LF32 | A modest suggestion for a three-country collaboration to reinvent how our societies adjust to, and thrive, in an era of rapidly changing demographics
In lands both near and far,
A creature roamed without a scar.
The Laukus was its name,
And living forever was its game.
From the beaches of Australia,
To the streets of the USA,
And even in the UK's cloudy weather,
The Laukus roamed on, forever.
With scales as bright as gold,
And eyes that shone like diamonds old,
The Laukus was a sight to see,
A creature of immortality.
Author: OpenAI’s ChatGPT
‘Aukus’ is a military partnership, with the UK and USA and helping Australia spend bazillions buying nuclear submarines and generally spurring trilateral investments and innovation in the important job of war and deterrents.
It’s not the place of this newsletter to dive into questions of whether or not Australia needs nuclear submarines, can afford them, can afford to wait until 2050 to get them, has the ability to build them locally, or whether this deal limits Australia’s flexibility with regard to China (others do that).
However, it is the place of this newsletter to wonder whether there may be another strategy for these three magnificent countries to explore that is less Boys Own and less Imperial throwback.
Longevity. So a L-Aukus, if you like.
Could there be trilateral partnership to explore how our three countries, which are all aging rapidly, should best prepare for and adjust their societies to changing demographics? This would be a research and action collaborative - drawing on the best researchers across the three countries and then investing in prototypes / proofs of concept that could test and validate innovations. Insights and best practices could be shared locally within the trifecta and also shared globally, as a contribution to accelerating innovation globally.
As the graph below shows, all three countries have a fairly similar demographic profile (17-18% in 0-14 years and 15-18% in 65+ cohort).
They all speak English, are obsessed by sport, have a shared, complex history of colonialism, have strong research and tech sectors, have a number of well-known innovators in longevity and are all facing big questions about the sustainability of their health and social care systems.
Why longevity and not ag(e)ing? Longevity is about ensuring that societies adapt across the life course - including investing in childhood and middle-age transformations - whereas ‘aging’ is generally seen by politicians as being more about how to cope with a broken aged-care system, and it’s generally too late to move the needle and impact society.
With an estimated AUD $300bn+ being spent on nuclear submarines over 3 decades, I’d politely request just 1% of that - $3bn - to be invested in resdesigning our societies around our disruptive demographics. This will have immediate and future benefits across all age groups.
And shuttling between California and Australia as I am now, I can also see this starting off as a more localized ‘OzCal’ to test the ideas. I’d settle with a mere $1bn for that.
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I'm sure the Money would be well spent.