Joseph Raczynski’s job title of “technologist and futurist” is exactly as advertised: it’s to understand where technology is going and how it relates to industry. He’s worked for Thomson Reuters for over 15 years in the legal field.
“I tinker with technology to understand the core aspects of how things work,” he says in a Plumia Talks live interview.
Raczynski explains how the cultural shift from remote work will impact the world and the role of cryptocurrency in its future.
Remote work and cities
Before the pandemic, the prevaling mindset was that in order to get work done, you needed to be in an office. Any paper pushing or time wasted at the water cooler was in service of the all-important office-serendipity theory.
Then came COVID-19.
Overnight, people had to pivot to remote work. Beyond the debates about the future of cities or population changes, Raczynski says the key cultural shift was believing that remote work was possible – and even preferable. “It's forced everyone to recalibrate what makes sense and how they're going to work,” he says.
And yet, while many people now have more control over their time, they’re somehow working more than ever. “People have the flexibility of working remotely, for better or for worse,” Raczynski says. In his own life, Raczynski says that despite doing less business travel, he can still end up working 12 hour days.
Rather than work-life balance, Raczynski strives for work-life intergration. “I need to be able to look at the scope of what I'm doing and cut out what I need to versus what I'm doing,” he says. “I think it's fantastic that we can do that at this stage.”
Crypto cities and nation states
A $1 trillion hidden economy was built upon the assumption that people commute into cities each day to go to offices. “The worry [with remote work] is that is New York or San Francisco’s tax bases are at risk,” Raczynski says. “I actually don't think that necessarily will be the case.”
Echoing previous Plumia Talks speaker John Surico, Raczynski believes cities will always have a cultural draw. This, coupled with the net positive effect of people moving to more rural areas, will create an evening out effect. “I don't think anyone's really going to lose out in the bigger scheme of things,” he says.
Raczynski predicts that niche hubs will emerge in new locations that are welcoming of specific industries or innovations.
This has already happened in El Salvador, where bitcoin was made a legal tender in 2021. “We've already seen an influx of people in the industry move down there because it’s a haven for people that are interested in this currency,” he says. (A year on, El Salvador’s bitcoin experiment looks rocky).
As people question how they work and where they live, Raczynski says that some are beginning to question the entire nation state model. Nonetheless, he thinks that the vast majority of people are still in favor of the nation state system – if only because they don’t quite understand the alternative.
The way to get people on board with the idea of a global legal system is by demonstrating the potential of technology. He acknowledges it’s still “a ways out,” but he’s excited for how new innovations on top of blockchains like decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) can help people make decisions and codify physical ownership in the virtual world without nation state architecture.
He admits the concept of living between a dual physical-virtual world doesn’t feel natural to many, but at the same time it can be quite exciting. “You start thinking about the metaverse – which is coming. And that has us connected to this world of virtual land. I think it’s very powerful ” Raczynski says. “It’s a little creepy sometimes, but also very fascinating.”