There have been a few recent changes in my life that has caused me to be increasingly interested in that ugly, hairy topic beneath all our noses: Will our luck run out and we end up all killing each other?
My wife gave birth to our daughter, Charlotte, almost two years ago. Soon thereafter we started attending Wasatch Presbyterian here in Salt Lake City each Sunday. Christianity is a somewhat divisive subject in the west, so I will lay out the caveat that I am not a Christian and have not been for a long time. But you don’t have to be a Christian to get a lot out of going to church. It of course depends on the church and community. We are fortunate to have a stellar Reverend who gives exceptionally uplifting and motivating sermons. These sermons have coalesced with my ongoing gratitude practice of the past few years to make me realize: So far I’ve had about as fairy-tale a life as a human being can have on this beautiful planet. It’s time to take advantage of that gift and give back to this world that has brought forth such beauty and wealth for so many people.
I’ve spent the last couple of years (and the past decade to a lesser extent) fairly immersed in Startup Culture. This has had its share of positives and negatives (for another post), but after watching yet another Andreessen Horowitz video about their predictions of some technology, it hit me: Why isn’t Silicon Valley taking on the issues that really matter? Why are the brightest minds in the world talking about a future of roaming self-driving fleet-owned cars, and not about the very real possibility of catastrophic climate change in the next 15 years? Or exponential technology increases causing ever more dangerous negative externalities to which we’re completely blind? Why wouldn’t we spend our time and money trying to avoid the sorts of risks that will lay to waste not only all these future developments, but everything human beings have ever done or will do? Surely even the tiniest of progress on this front would pay off handsomely even in the myopic arena of financial returns in our late-stage capitalist culture?
This has started me on quite a journey. I decided to take it upon myself to leverage this instant, infinite source of knowledge we all possess (hint: you’re using it now) and start to come to understand the state of the planet in 2018. This, of course, is just the tiniest tip of the iceberg. I started with the current global environmental crisis and loss of biodiversity and quickly expanded to several topics heavily discussed in the excellent Future Thinkers podcast: Exponential technology development, Super-intelligent AI, isolationism in global politics, and the utter unsuitability of modern capitalism on a planet with eight billion people.
The goal is to gain some intuition about a path forward. A path that is unique to me. A path that utilizes my unique talents and broad-ranging interests and expertise. A path that allows for reasonable comfort for myself and my family while providing deep meaning and a profound commitment to a better future for humanity. I’ve been incredibly fortunate these thirty-some years on this planet, now how can I do my part to give back?