Benefits of the Black Death
This article is not about Covid-19. This is about the bacteria Yersinia Pestis, also known as the Plague/Black Death and its effect on wages, rights, and innovation.
In 14th century Europe, the majority of the population was made up of peasants. Many were relegated to working as tenant farmers, or serfs. By the 1350’s, the Black Death rapidly spread through Europe, decimating the population. It’s estimated that 33% of the population was lost as a result of the Plague and its aftermath.
While there are some parallels to be drawn to our present day pandemic, a more interesting insight can be pulled from the change in the labor pool.
In the 1300’s labor was cheap, wages were stagnant, and the cost of living continued to rise. If you’ve consumed any amount of media lately you recognize something similar at play in the present day.
After the Plague, when the workforce was depleted, the power dynamic changed. Peasants began revolting, wages increased, the feudal system fell into rapid decline, and innovation skyrocketed.
We find ourselves in similar circumstances today.
The world around us is changing rapidly.
We can see how social unrest, and dried up labor market, rising inflation and living expenses are causing challenges today.
These challenges will lead to innovation that will make things better for all of us. We’re already seeing these innovations pop up in our schools, event venues, and homes.
We are experiencing a convergence of technologies in artificial intelligence, robotics, drone technology, battery storage and charging capabilities, internet from space, blockchain, augmented reality, virtual reality, automated vehicles, and so much more.
Brian Mastrosimone of Lincoln Hill Farms is working to bring emerging technology into his events business. He wants to see smaller bands make more money so he’s creating another company that will use the power of blockchain technology to run their ticketing. The tickets will be “non-fungible tokens” or NFTs. These tokens will work the same way as a ticket but will retain value after the show is over. Where we used to throw ticket stubs away, these NFTs can be used, traded, or resold because the band can continue to provide value for those that hold them.
Imagine if your favorite small band told you that if you had tickets from their three previous shows, you could meet them backstage. People would scramble to get their hands on those old ticket stubs. That is the way NFTs will work. Because it is based in blockchain technology, those NFTs record the monetary transfers that happen when they move around, pushing a portion of the proceeds back to the band.
Brian will also be implementing virtual reality at his farm for certain events, allowing anyone in the world with a VR headset to attend.
The possibilities and applications for these emerging technologies are endless. But we face real challenges today. The workforce is changing, and many jobs have been vacant for years. Many businesses are running chronically understaffed. In the short term, it is painful, but in the long term we’ll be primed to turn to whatever solution works.
After the Black Death decimated Europe, the middle ages came to an end, and the Renaissance began. Innovations in farming technology changed how much food one person could produce. Wages rose and the standard of living for the non-nobility drastically improved. As the bounty of food and capital grew, the arts flourished elevating Leonardo Da Vinci, Donatello, Michaelangelo and many others to prominence. Many of these changes took almost a century to truly take root.
In medieval times, change happened over decades and centuries. We live in a fully integrated global society where massive change happens in days, months, and years.
Don’t be shocked if the world we live in ten years from now looks very different from the one we live in now. The first iPhone came out in 2007. Within 10 years everyone had some form of smartphone.
What do you think is coming next?
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