I don’t think that anything will save the world in the sense of bringing Utopia to Earth. But I think the world could be improved, and that would be the version of the question that I’m very much interested in.
I think at a fundamental level I just believe in human agency. And I think that everyone should feel like they can participate and shape the economy, rather than feel like they’re experiencing symptoms of the economy. When the recession happened, there was all this chatter around well, the Fed is going to do this. Or the banks are going to do this. And government is going to do this. And there was no narrative around what people are going to do.
I come here today because I’m excited about data but also because I’m terrified. I’m terrified that we are having progress without culture in the world of data. And as we’ve seen with these failed industries before, progress without culture does not work.
We don’t have a concept of balance. Not only do we not have a concept of balance, but we have a very distorted sense of social justice that has been reframed to justify a society that is fundamentally anchored around the concept of imbalance. The resources of the world cluster toward a handful of very very powerful countries, one country having an even greater share. In order to justify this greater share, it’s made them believe that this higher concentration of power is normal, and that anybody in all countries can have it, and that all countries should aspire for it.
You’re dealing with timescales that are beyond humans’ interest. I mean, it’s sorta like global warming. The heat that we have now built up, that carbon was burned thirty years ago. It’s going to take a while for the correction process. So, if you have the elements of the phosphorus, the potassium, the manganese, and so on, it can be built back pretty fast. But a shorthand way of putting it is that soil is as much of a non-renewable resource as oil. And, more important than oil. I mean, we’re talking about stuff we’re made of. So that’s why I’ve said that the plowshare has destroyed more options for future generations than the sword.
So long as we’re limited to one planet, ultimately our resources are limited. And therefore every person in the world is competing with every other person in the world for a piece of a finite pie. Okay, and every new person born is a threat, every nation is fundamentally the enemy of every other nation, every race of every other race, and the only question is how do we kill them.
I enjoy clean air and clean water as much as the most rabid environmental person. I just think we can have the products of society, as well as having these things. Progress is a good thing. I’m just simply a realist. And I’m just trying to enjoy life, enjoy family, enjoy friends, and contribute to society as best I can. And I think providing energy, I think providing the metals that society consumes, that people have in their their iPads, in their iPods, in their iPhones… I think that’s an honorable thing to do. What else would you do? You know, why fight that?
I think the saddest thing is if you ever stop wanting to learn new things. And it can be about anything. That’s just really heartbreaking. I don’t know. It’s just so much part of like who you are as a human to learn new things constantly. And so to not be curious, not want to learn new things and not create new patterns and connections…you’re pretty much giving up your human self.