How will my family and I fare in the globalizing market for intellectual labor? Reflecting on this, I’ll try dividing history into 3 stages:
100th millennium BCE: Intelligence defines the species:
Against a backdrop in which physical attributes (like strength and food efficiency) were the primary determinants of survival, humans differentiated themselves by being smarter than other primates.
Intervening period: Intelligence affects local status:
Intelligence, not just lineage, affects placement within local society/village (leader/smithy/engineer vs. farmer/miner/driver, etc.) -- increasingly so in the 20th century, as intellectual labor becomes a significant fraction of all work done.
2000 CE+: Intelligence affects global status:
Intellectual labor becomes geographically fungible thru networking and software technology. Mental abilities now define placement within the entire global socioeconomic hierarchy. Whole countries will rise and fall based on how thoughtfully they work. Individuals now compete in an order-of-magnitude-larger labor market.
Thus if you are of medium abilities in a country that has historically been elite for independent reasons (e.g. USA), you may find your economic status reset to that of someone of equivalent abilities within the global pool, significantly reducing your economic position. For instance, if you presently make $50k/year doing medium-skilled knowledge work in the usa, you may soon find yourself making $5k/year for the same work.
Similarly, if you have been among the elite-most 3 people in your field in Germany, a country of 82 million people, you may soon be only 1 in 250 people among the globe's 6,800 million, especially as the education gap in the between the West and everyone else continues to close.
What does this mean for my family? I should encourage/support my family members to either (1) be fulfilled providing locally-bound physical-labor-based services, or (2) to be globally preeminent in some increasingly useful area of intellectual work -- with the latter option being my preference (based on lifelong biases), despite it's possibly being the riskiest of the two. This may be mean more than just scoring high on standardized tests (which millions can do), but rather nurturing special and uniquely creative viewpoint and skills.
ideas from joe betts-lacroix meant to evoke ideas from you