DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF : "We have a plan B..." Understanding the billionaires mindset | Sismique #107


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you want you want to start with your French experience sure I was at um something called ours Electronica which is a big interactive digital Festival they do in Lynch Austria every year and they bring brought a bunch of us out I was still pretty young I had just written this book called media virus which launched the whole viral media thing and um Paul varilio was there I don't know if you've heard of him he's a very big French post-modernist philosopher media theorist and um he was actually there up there on a big screen and um another intellectual Manuel de Londa said um to him so what do you think of um you know Douglas just rushkov Douglas rushkov's ideas about you know viral media and virulio goes he goes rushkov he's an idiot and I was so thrilled I was so pleased who I was right of an important French I mean to me he's like derida you know one of those important French uh uh or beaudryard or somebody Paul varelia is like that um that he knows who I am and second that he thinks my work is worth uh that level of anger even just you know what I mean he was like rushcraft huh whatever yeah who cares or rushcuff I think he's okay that's not as good as RushCard he's an idiot and he said it with with like enjoying taking me down to that and I was like my God this is that was the moment that that was very that meant you were important to him in some way yeah and I thought that was like I felt like I had arrived on the intellectual stage when this important French post-modernist just had disdain for me man this is great I'm I'm in the game did you get to talk to him after or did you decide no he wasn't actually physically there because he was so important even back then this is you know the 90s but he uh went in through you know satellite or whatever they used as the equivalent of we didn't have zoom yeah like that yeah I guess so so well that's a nice introduction you know like to the to the your IDs I guess you know like the fact that uh you say some stuff that people you know may disagree with which is always a good sign I would say and um well let's start that you know I always find interesting also to start by you know trying to understand where IDs come from and also what glasses my guests you know tend to wear you know what are the angles can can you well briefly introduce yourself and explain to me where you are talking from you know what important elements experiences or finding would you say shaped the most your vision of the world yeah well um right now I guess I'm a a I'm a media and Technology theorist and thinker um which means looking at the impact of media and Technology on people and society and culture and necessarily looking at the way that capitalism and domination Express themselves through technology the way they get Amplified by these Technologies and my my sensibility comes from theater I was a theater maker and director since I was you know 11 years old I was I got seriously involved in theater and by the uh late 1980s I started to get upset about theater it was very expensive to do only wealthy people showed up and theater always had a very traditional narrative Arc to it you know crisis climax conclusion I I called it the male orgasm curve of Storytelling where every story yeah yeah exactly reaches that Climax and then collapse and you get to go to sleep and I felt that audiences were were seeing plays as a way of not taking action as a substitute for Action rather than seeing plays to motivate themselves in the world so while I was upset with that and and uh trying to break through to make theater more participatory and more interactive um the internet happened and it was really early I mean it wasn't even the internet it was computers happened and I believed perhaps naively in the late 80s and early 90s that computer others and Rave and the Psychedelic Revival and fantasy role-playing and hypertext and lucid dreaming and you know uh States Of Consciousness we're all part of the same cultural movement toward giving people more uh Power and autonomy over the creation of the reality in which they live and while originally I thought theater was the place to experiment with reality creation I believe that oh now with computers we can reach real people and have non-elitis non-business-like uh approach and of course within just a few years business came and tried to take over the internet and used it rather than unleashing the creative potential of wild humans they looked at how do we use this technology to control people to make human beings more predictable and extract even more value from them so for the last really 20 or 30 years now I've been looking at that interplay that Dynamic that struggle over the power unleashed by these digital Technologies and trying to um help people be the the programmers rather than the programmed well what I'm trying to do with this uh podcast now for for five years is to investigate on you know what shapes the world and uh try to unpack the different structures and Dynamics and to see okay why things are happening this way you know and you mentioned technology the structure uh you've got the economic capitalism which is another structure with its rules and the rules uh make makes that things happen in a certain way and then you have events you know happening that we know this Etc uh you mentioned the fact that you like you started reflecting on stories and uh and on the fact that you know it's very much influential and and then technology is a way of dealing with stories and telling stories in another way I would like to start there you know how would you describe today's dominant story today today's dominant narrative you know that really through technology a little bit but we'll get to that a little bit later but that is shaping the most our culture and then our lives and therefore our behavior in the west at least in the West um I think the dominant story that we're living is um you know the story that took us out of the late Middle Ages into the Renaissance that story that we got you guys got it in France I would say around the time of Philip the fair you know when Philip the fair outlawed local currencies and got the Knights Templar to kill anybody who was using them and instituted his his bizarre Central currency and kept devaluing it in order to be able to extract money from people um it was really that it's it's that that moment um is when they they uh embedded a a set of different stories so one of them that was that we we live in nation states rather than city-states you know city-states where these organic uh uh uh communities of people that built around markets and needs nation states were artificial you know uh boundaries created around territories and then mythologies were imposed oh you're not Venetian you're Italian you know he's like what's that yeah that's what you are that's an here's your myth and that goes all the way back that that style of doing things went all the way back to the Torah you know when the uh Israelite tribes got a myth that oh each of these tribes is the descendants of one brother of this one man Jacob and that's where we all come from and that's why we are allowed to take this Canaan land and that's who we are it's like okay um but myths that's the way so there's those those myths so the nation-state myth combined with the myth really of of capitalism that's when we got uh Central currency which is is loaned to people at interest and then paid back to Central authorities and when we got the corporation or the chartered Monopoly so rather than people working for themselves and trading back and forth in a peer-to-peer Society like at the end of the late Middle Ages when we were doing really quite well we talk about it as if it was the Dark Ages it wasn't it was a very prosperous time people were healthy and working three or four days a week it was wonderful um the we we instead got chartered monopolies or Proto corporations where now we sell our time rather than our value so that's really the the story that we've been living ever since and each different field of inquiry is dominated by the same understanding of uh controlling people and getting value out of people rather than letting people um create value and exchange it with one another so even uh we look at the birth of science um you look at Francis Bacon when he was uh same period early Renaissance or actually mid-renaissance I guess um when when he is the founder of what we now call empirical science and when he was selling the idea of empirical science to the uh you know to both the church and the Academy of uh uh a Royal Academy of scientists he said you know empirical science will let us take Nature by the forelock hold her down and submit her to our will so science was born as a way of dominating nature control I mean it's a rape fantasy right holding down nature like it's a woman hold her down by the hair and submit her to our will so we're living in a view of reality in a view of the world where uh business technology and science are all ways of controlling people controlling nature and submitting everything to our will so we we conquer we Vanquish that's how we got um colonization you colonize places you you follow Hobbes who said don't worry about the uh Native Americans they're just like trees or shrubs you can dominate those and I think we're still there we still look at um at the world at population at markets um through this militaristic um Colonial end to win and you look in popular culture and this is the the Marvel movie it it where does it go the Marvel movie requires an end game they even have the movie End Game infinite you know and uh you you can only follow it to uh uh vanquishing the other side and that's not uh that's not working anymore right that's I think we've gotten to the end of that story is it um I would like to say a little bit on the origins you know of this because uh just to understand do you think it's uh its derivative of Western values of you know like the Adam and Eve myth where you get separated from nature and then you have to populate the worlds and go out there and populate the reproduce and populate the world and then it was reborn again with Descartes at the Renaissance you know in France where you you think that with reason and then science you can understand everything and therefore you know like you know see nature as something separated from us and therefore you can Conquest it and dominate it or is it something that's kind of always been there you know since the beginning of civilization where there is something inherent to civilization uh linked being linked to separation I don't know if you reflected on that yeah I mean there is something slightly different about humans you know the human beings are a bit more aware of ourselves and our predicament you know we're a little bit less in the moment but I I would love along with others to blame you know white male toxicity or like rhianne Isler I could blame the the Metallurgy you know the the the and the invention of the sword and chains you know for Domination and slavery that that empowered you know these people over those people but I was watching the um they made a new print of um 2001 Space Odyssey the Kubrick movie and you know in the beginning of that movie before they go to space and all they show the uh kind of monkey people yeah and and they're all fighting with sticks and things and Stones whatever but there's a um there's a scene when the monkey people I'm sorry for calling them that I don't know whether they're monkeys or people they're sight in between you know humans where the monkey people yeah proto-humans it's it's night time and there's like four of them sitting against a little cliff at night awake and you hear somewhere around them you hear like the saber-toothed tiger [Music] and they're sitting up in fear and when I saw that I was thinking how many tens or hundreds of thousands of years did our ancestors sit in fear of being eaten by something like that how uh uh how embedded how innate ingrained is that in our Consciousness and I can understand after spending a couple of hundred thousand years sitting up at night worried that you're going to be eaten by a tiger you're gonna build as many walls and fences and antibiotics and other things as you can to protect against against that it's it's really hard to it's really hard to get to a place where you say okay I feel safe enough to stop because we're so I feel like we're so uh programmed is a bad word to use because it's so computery but I feel we're so inclined to to uh remove as many existential threats from ourselves as possible it's just now we've gotten to a place where in the effort to remove as many existential threats as possible we've created second order effects second order existential threats you know the the the the walls that we created to block out the saber-toothed tiger are falling on us now so all right there's a happy there's a balance we need to strike so yeah we can do a little bit on this because there is this I find very much interesting to start with the ID that we are it's a great motivation in everything that we do to escape that fear you know to to fear of death fear of not belonging fear of uh you know not having food you've got like Primal instincts that you know Clinic instincts that are all there and we can reflect on that and also we mentioned the fact that we have a an instinct or actually we're in that culture I don't know if in an instinct of conquest of going to other other places looking for what's next yeah yeah that instinct for Empire I don't know yeah how how instinctual that is um and it's interesting to see and I don't know enough about everyone's history to see how that uh how that emerges um you know I mean Genghis Khan did it there's people did it other than you know Napoleon and Western Alexander and those it's it's happened in other places there have been you know Japanese uh uh Empires so it does it does happen I mean what I'm I'm interested in I guess is is is more how how we come to see it as the only possibility you know how we when when do we accept these rules as conditions of nature you know I see my my primary job I mean I talk about I try to do four things in my work I mean the first thing is denaturalize power you know how do we make these systems that disempower us how do we help people see that no capitalism is not nature it's one set of rules that were put in place a long time ago you know once so I my four rules I mean my four things I'm trying to do are to denaturalize power to to trigger agency that is to make people feel like they can recode the world in which they live you know third is to resocialize people to create a camaraderie and and uh uh Rapport and finally is to to cultivate awe a sense of awe and connection because when you experience awe you no longer want to dominate the thing you want to be uh uh you want to you want to experience it but the first thing to denaturalize power you know and that's why it's interesting we start history you have to say oh look you know this is not money this is something that was invented in the 13th century by some Kings who are looking to to solidify their power in the face of a rising middle class and they outlawed everything else and Philip hired the knights to to to uh then I Templar to to uh reinforce that and now because we were born in that world that's all we see it's like if you were raised in a world where there's only the Macintosh computer uh only Apple you wouldn't know what an operating system is you would just say that's computer you know unless you so how do we help people understand that there are other cultural operating systems available to us that you don't need necessarily A revolution to start um deploying new cultural strategies so I would like to deconstruct a little bit what uh this you know our our what is shaping our our system of belief today because as you said it's important to you to realize that there are beliefs that sometimes we tend to mistaken with laws you know love of nature of you know or human constriction or natural construction versus human constrictions so you mentioned the fact that we're always looking for the next thing that we you know as you say after after life uh there is death but then there is Paradise after you know when we end up and with the resources on Earth there will be Mars and uh you know the Can you can you can you tell us about the importance of this narrative and how this is shaping our today trajectory according to you well when we're we when we use stories that have Beginnings middles and ends we become intolerant and impatient of the middle you know we want where's my cookie where's my ending where's my orgasm where's my thing where does it how does this end up and we have a society now that is so addicted to endings that people would rather the world end in a fiery apocalypse than just keep going in an indeterminate way you know they they they would they would rather believe that there's some big evil you know uh conspiracy of Democrats and Jews you know uh uh sucking blood out of people who will get punished then the world is complex this is awful It's Tricky we gotta you know they they're which is why it's so hard to adopt a sustainable uh a model of sustainability because sustainability suggests that this just keeps going it keeps on going you know they can't they can't do it that's why I've been talking a lot lately about Tantra I feel like if people learn Tantra you know how to just it's okay you don't have to come it's okay just stay with it stay with it there's other there's other places to explore there's things you just don't need to get there um then it would be easier but the problem is it's the the the model that we have now is the in technology is the startup model right you you come up with your idea you raise some money you blow it and then you have an exit strategy where you sell the company to someone else and you leave with a billion dollars and you make you know a thousand X or a million x your original investment it doesn't matter what the company does you just pivot and keep pivoting to whatever's gonna get you the exit and then people certainly in America we have um we have no you know social state in America so we um the object of the game is to earn enough money while you can work so that you can pay for yourself to live when you're old that's the way it goes because we set it up so that old people are not taken care of your kids won't take you no one's going to take care of you your community won't so you have to I mean what creature in nature ever does this you have to save enough food right Wally you can while you're young so that you store it up and then just eat it then until you die um so that creates all of the anxiety around I need a job I need a retirement plan I need to save this money and then when you save this money for your retirement where do you put it you put it into the big corporations because they are the stocks that will return your money and those are the corporations that are exploiting you in the first place that are demanding you live like this so we all uh play into the same Narrative of you know this life Arc rather than um you know it's really hard for people to look at one another and Community as the source of of of of power so I want to explore you know how why this is problematic um because and that's related to very much also the the structure of the tech economy today and the fact that people that are in charge that have a lot of power are shaped in part by these narratives so I mean I would like to start with uh with tech because I'm not sure you know how much people that are who are listening understand how things work and how much we are influenced so today you know we spend a great share of time with I mean looking at screens interacting with algorithms and uh and this is shaping is our the shaping our world use and then and then our behaviors right choices can you reflect on the place digital technology in particular now occupies in our lives how important this is and actually how much this is changing us and shaping us and and setting up our trajectory you know what do we need to understand about these tools and how it works that is uh unknown to most people um well It's tricky to talk about because when when we do talk about what's going on it can sound so bad and so scary that it makes us sound or feel powerless and I don't want to go there so there's a movement in the U.S called you know Humane technology that some of the people who were involved in building social media and and some of the uh more manipulative uh platforms out there they you know finally realized oh we're hurting people and they decided to change their ways right but they they believe that they are Wizards who and they believe their Technologies really do control human beings and human behaviors so now instead of using their massive wizard magical technology powers to make people buy things now they will use their massive powers to upgrade the human brain you know to nudge us to be better people and both models are are equally stupid right you don't use technology to change people you that's that you don't program people you don't we're not computers we are living sacred beings don't program don't program people um so this with that with that caveat I guess before um these digital Technologies were were potentially um rescue us from industrialism they they mark an entirely New Age like a Bronze Age and uh uh uh you know a digital electronic age and a broadcaster there's a digital age and digital is different digital is a symbol system digital is like a a meta architecture it's it's like language you know imagine the first people who if you didn't know you're a caveman who doesn't know how to speak who doesn't know that speech exists and you Wander over to your neighboring tribe and you see in that tribe someone goes blah blah blah blah blah and then other people do stuff You're Gonna Go wow what's that what is that stuff that's right so the blah blah blah blah is this layer it's like software it's a it's a layer over reality it's the first virtual world right it's this map that people use in order it's not the world but it sure does influence the world right digital is that big a thing it's this other layer it's this other platform that we use to represent reality and then to even dictate a lot of what happens in reality so those of us who saw that in the late 80s and early 90s that we were going to build a second skin on our world a second skin of symbols just like the people who were writing originally said oh my God we're going to represent the world in text in scripture what is that going to mean and how does that change and it changed everything right the judeo-christian Insight of how to use well if we're going to have some if we're going to be able to write things down let's write a contract with God that's what the Torah is it's a covenant Let's Make a Deal all right what are what do you expect of us what do we have to do for you and let's get it down it's a contract let's write our history let's write our future let's create who we are I mean it was really an interesting let's write laws we could write down laws they're written down now you people got to follow it if you go into my yard you owe me this you know that it was and it changed everything right we had now a virtual representation of our world well digital is like that so many of us saw it as oh this is an opportunity to rewrite the contracts rewrite the contracts between workers and bosses is probably the big one between citizens and government that we're living in a a read what what computer people would call a read write Universe we used to live in read-only media like books and television where you could read them but you can't change what's on TV computers is read write meaning now the user can change what's up there you can re reprogram it everybody can be a writer now so that that possibility was was so powerful to those of us in the early era that we thought this is going to be interesting we're moving into a much more consensual relationship with one another to build society as some kind of a collective organism which is why Rave of all things it seems silly now to look at it but the Rave dance seemed like a great symbol for what we were doing instead of going to a rock and roll concert and worshiping some long-haired guy masturbating with his guitar on stage now we're all together looking at each other the DJ back then was Anonymous you didn't even see them it was just music so the the you turned to other people you're just dancing with other people it was a different thing and the internet seemed like oh wow instead of sitting and watching TV we're going to be in a media artsy media dance with one another creating reality together now the problem was of course this was so many of us started doing it and playing with it big business came along Wired Magazine came along and said oh no no no no this is not about people playing with each other this is the best tool we have ever found for extracting value from people right we can manipulate people in real time so they took really the best techniques they had from Freudian Psychology from from uh pavlovian psychology and they turned the internet into a Skinner box which is a a behavioral control mechanism and they used everything they knew about behavioral Finance which is really just the science of how do you get people to do things that are against their own best interests and embed these platforms with that so on the one hand we are empowered you know with GPS in our phone to get somewhere without using a map but on the other hand we're disempowered now because we follow the route that they want us to take which is the route that's going to go by the McDonald's and the Dunkin Donuts and the you know what restaurants show up on the map are the ones that have paid to be there you know the ones that are participating in the culture that they want us to to pay our money to um and and they understand it to use these Technologies to make us more predictable increases their profits the the less outlier Behavior the less Innovation the less mutation there is Among Us so it's it's it's serious to me that we are living on a digital landscape that most of us don't even understand how it was programmed we are mistaking it for nature and it is designed to get us to behave against our own best interests and the way it does that is by increasingly alienating us from one another you know when you make eye contact when you engage with another human being your whole Psychology and Physiology it recalibrates to a healthier place you know that's your your mirror neurons fire the oxytocin goes into your bloodstream you experience bonding you experience Rapport and your your stable the existential fear goes away when you're stuck in Facebook and Instagram and these Services they are designed intentionally to create the opposite effect to make you feel untethered and alone and Afraid and anxious so that you click on things desperately trying to buy things and share more of your more of your data and and behavior with them so it's a very um it's a powerful tool and and one that creates a self-reinforcing feedback loop of anxiety alienation and then more digital use we become addicted to the digital because it doesn't work if it did work we'd be satisfied and then could go home and have sex but because it doesn't work we keep clicking find another thing another thing and we are now at a time where we can't afford to do this anymore you know we can't we need to establish um uh that kind of a collective sensibility we'll go into that I would like to understand also why this is like this I understand that this is about making money because you want to twist people's behavior into extracting value from them as you said you know attention but you know like this big Tech big Tech is controlled by just a few number of individuals you know mainly uh in Silicon Valley or in China it's different but you know for the West all the tools are already in the same place but the same types of people like engineer Engineers mostly men and they are taking decisions related to how it works what it should do and what it shouldn't do right and therefore what these people think believe you know have a huge impact on on the world so you know that a consistent yeah that ecosystem very well what can you tell can you can you tell me about the that Tech culture and what you call also I think the mindset you like the system of belief and that willingness also to go meta you know as you say like you to have these layers what for what's driving that well it's funny originally I blamed capitalism right so here we are we we have this beautiful internet we're trying to you know create a new Collective Consciousness with this thing and then the business people come along um and on the one hand that's true you know uh we we didn't realize how powerful they would be and there was a guy he was actually The Lyricist for the Grateful Dead um named John Barlow who um he wrote something called the Declaration of Independence of cyberspace and what the document said was was it was it was very seductive it said you know governments of the world you know beware you know we don't need you anymore we are creating a new space we don't need you and your laws and your governments and your nation states we're going to build a new thing you know leave us alone and we all we all the Counter Culture embraced that because government had cast itself as the enemy of Technology back then I mean they they were the FBI was raiding the houses of hackers who were really innocent kids who were breaking into different computers you know but you you could stop them but you don't need to come out 10 years yeah yeah but even before that these were 14 15 year old kids they would break into their Apartments you know put their family down on the ground you know and handcuffed them you know it was big because they were afraid the government didn't understand what a kid a 14 year old kid was doing with his computer um so the government had cast itself as the enemy and we thought great let's get rid of them what we didn't realize is if you get rid of the government then corporate power grows you know that government and business balance each other in the world a bit like fungus and bacteria balance each other in the human body you get rid of one and the other grows rampant so we got rid of government and then business happened so you could look at that as the story and then business came and used these tools to exploit people and that's that and then the most successful people are the billionaires you know so you get your Elon Musk and Peter Thiel the Libertarians it was a Libertarian mindset that they're gonna win and that's partly true but I remember I was with um I was with Timothy Leary when he was reading one of the first books about this internet world it was called um the media lab it was written by Stuart brand who was a great counterculture figure from the 60s was one of the merry pranksters um he wrote this book about mit's new media lab where they were starting to do digital work and Timothy Leary you know great psychedelics uh uh patriarch he's reading this book with a felt tip pen and he's circling things and I'm thinking oh he must be loving this book when he gets to the end of the book he slams it and he throws it across the room and he goes like what what Tim what happened and he goes first you know less than three percent of the names in the index are women you know what does that tell you and then he said you know these technologists at MIT they're trying to recreate the womb their own mothers were unable to anticipate their every need and now they want to build a digital mother that they can live inside who will know everything they want before they even know they want it they can have everything sex and food and never have to talk to an another person again and where it begins all day yeah but not really deal with real people right other people are the threat technology is more predictable than people and women and nature and girls and and soil and darkness and the moon and you know all the stuff that Francis Bacon was afraid of when he said let's take Nature by the hair and hold her down and submit her to our will is the same stuff that these guys were it's the same um trajectory so you have guys who maybe had more of a propensity towards Spectrum uh Behavior who already had some uh because it was it was very characteristic of people who were in computers a lot a lot of us you know have little social anxieties that maybe were a little bit magnified compared to other people you now you have oh we can build out this utilitarian fantasy where everybody is predictable and does what they're supposed to and you know you can kind of that's why you call the meta Universe like The Meta world that layer well yeah I mean in a way it's that it's that yeah I can rise above everybody and operate the world as if like I'm a puppeteer one level above but the other thing about meta um you could look at these guys as perpetually really since the beginning they're trying to do damage well they're trying to to dominate things but escape the damage that they're doing themselves you know so um like the billionaires I I spoke to who are uh uh yeah story that you're telling you know in your letter spoke down yeah yeah I mean it's it's instructive for the for this mindset I I was invited to do a talk for a wealthy um Tech investors um and technologists and it turned out they didn't want me to do a talk they just brought five men into the Green Room Where I Was preparing and they started asking me questions about their bunkers their their bunkers for the event their Doomsday um you know one of them wanted to upload his Consciousness to the cloud but most of them were building facilities in New Zealand or Alaska where they would go to after the event so they all believed that an event was coming either a nuclear disaster climate change uh uh pandemic social unrest um some kind of or electromagnetic pulse that would collapse civilization and require them to build a fortress that they would defend and I mean for me I realized if the wealthy and most powerful people in the world or at least the ones that I had ever met they're not just preparing but they're almost actively fantasizing for that reality it's almost like they want that to happen they want to escape from the rest of us and that's what I what I mean in a large to a large extent by going meta you used to be able to escape what you did by going further west conquering more people you know if if you're running out of money you find you know uh you know the people of color in some area of the world that hasn't been exploited and Enslaved the people take their stuff build some factories and you know call it a economic success to pretend that you've developed a new place when really you've just colonized but I feel like once we got you know to the end of California in the end of World War II we really ran out of places to colonize so digital technology became a way of creating new surface area yeah on the market a new place to colonize rather than colonizing other people will colonize human attention we'll colonize human uh uh human Minds but the object of the game has always been for them to really build a car that can go fast enough to escape from its own exhaust to how do you escape the externalities of your own processes you keep going and when you run out of room when you can't keep doing that fast enough you go meta you rise one level above everybody else so there's one Tech billionaire named Peter Thiel who started palantir it's the biggest spy Network and he helped start PayPal and some other things and he's a very strange man but he wrote a book called zero to one which is really purely going meta the idea is everybody else is competing down here on the ground if you want a successful business or a successful anything you rise one level above them he says one order of magnitude above them and you create the platform on which everybody else competes so if if you know if everybody has all these little stores or something you create the platform that Aggregates those stores you create the website that Aggregates the other website you move one level above you know uh Mark Zuckerberg when Facebook stops working Facebook was already Web 2.0 they called it what you know Facebook went meta on the original web everybody had their own websites so he says no I'm going to make a site that lets everybody build a website it's what really a Facebook page is let's build their website but it's all on my thing so he went meta on the net when Facebook stops working what does he do he starts a new company called meta literally early meta one step above so he's labeling he's labeling the idea of going meta you know Stuart brand when he was talking about the internet he said it will let us be as Gods one level Above the Rest of humanity so it's really all of these folks even Zuckerberg when he talks about um what he's doing he he his role model is um is Augustus Caesar you know it's it's a that's what he does when he went on his honeymoon that's all his wife says he complained that all he wanted to do was look at the the you know the the artifacts of Augustus Caesar he his haircut is is to look like Augustus Caesar that's what he does it's intentional and we should be thankful that it's Augustus Caesar and not Caligula right that would be worse but it's still a Roman dictator right that he's modeling himself after and that's because they want to be a level a level above an order of magnitude above everybody else and that's to be safe that's to be as Leary said you're safe in your digital womb one level Above the Rest of humanity architecting and directing Humanity through digital symbols rather than on the ground with everybody and that's why in the end it requires a full Escape you upload to the cloud you go to Mars you move to a an island in the middle of nowhere that there they understand that their impact on the world is so destructive that they are going to require a way out you know they're once it literally do they realize this do they realize how much you know like arm they are doing or are they actually thinking that they are doing good or you know how much cynical are there related to this according to you um it depends on which one you're talking about some of them believe both you know some of them believe that they they're doing a great thing they're probably saving the world but if the world is not up to the challenge if those horrible governments don't let us you know replace all the cars with automatic cars and replace all the energy with our kind of energy then and clone and use Nano and build robots then those poor humans are going to die but I'm gonna have yeah they have their way out it's always about so the edging you know hedging like the they're hedge fund people right so they hedge that was what one of the billionaires I spoke to said look my uh analysts say there's a 20 chance of a catastrophic event in my lifetime so I'm spending 20 of my money preparing what do you say it's uh that attitude you know like that mindset is related to billionaires or Tech you know what shapes this the most because you can argue also like the that's the meta for example you say I like the mid the idea of going meta would you say for example something like depth is meta is something that's a virtual layer that we put on reality that you know does things always just about technology in the end oh debt is definitely debt is the first I mean financialization is going meta so debt is the first layer of financialization so that here's these people doing business together now I can make money off the fact that they're doing business together if I charge them for the money that they're using you know that was what Philip the fair figured out I'm going to charge them to use money so I'm going to make money off every I'm going meta on the economy you know that's what the stock market does but then the stock market went meta by creating derivatives so now you don't buy a stock you buy a derivative of a stock so I went meta on a stock now I can buy a derivative of a derivative so I've gone meta on derivatives in in in the U.S the derivative is exchange became so much bigger than the New York Stock Exchange that the New York Stock Exchange was purchased by its derivatives Exchange in 2013. so the stock market which is already an abstraction of the real Market which is an abstraction of the social reality was consumed by its own abstraction right that's how meta works but so yes it's true capitalism and financialization is purely meta but it never had digital technology along with it so when you marry a a meta yeah technological environment a medical media a a meta media environment with a meta Financial environment they catalyze one another and you end up in this crazy um in this crazy world that we're in today and so can you talk about team human is it related to that like the confrontation of technological development Ai and human project somehow you know you ended up coming up with that view that they had a kind of uh not a fight but yeah a challenge between these two narratives and these two tribes if you say you can can you explain this to me interestingly my my idea for team human came up when I was um I was on a like a TV special with a famous uh transhumanist scientist named Ray Kurzweil who's at Google so he has Google basically building computers for him to upload his brain that's what he wants to do upload his his Consciousness before he dies to the computer and he believes that technology digital computers and AIS are our uh evolutionary successor that you know first there was atoms then molecules then one celled organisms and monkeys and everything else then humans and humans have been the best most complex organisms so far but that once computers are more complex than us then we pass the evolutionary torch to computers and we Fade Into the background and we only really stay around as long as we have to to keep the computers going and then we can go extinct we've we've done our job and we should accept that that's how it goes and I said to him no but I remember I said no human beings are special you know where we're weird we can do some things that computers can't we can Embrace ambiguity we don't need to resolve everything to a one or a zero we can stay in that strange in between space I remember I said a human being can watch a movie by David Lynch not understand what happened and still experience that as pleasure you know what is that you know human beings I said you know human beings deserve a place in the digital future and he said oh rushka you're just saying that because you're human right as if it was Hubris and that's when I said fine I'm on team human and the the I the The Fray the team human uh uh phrase it sort of stayed with me as like team human versus Team machine I guess team human versus Team robot but that team human it doesn't even have to be at versus anybody but we are the second meaning of Team human for me was that human beings really uh only being human is a collective activity right that that that evolution is a team sport they're not a sole individual human you are part of humanity that we are together and that no matter how much capitalism and computers try to convince us that you are an individual right this is a iPhone you have it's an iPhone not an Us phone it's an iPhone right it's your of your individual thing you know that that this whole landscape is set up with your own user account as individuals no being human is a collaborative thing what we learned in the Rave dance you know we are an organism together and uh so then I started working with that and and deciding that really anything that makes us feel or behave more alone is anti-human and anything that helps us collaborate and and um connect to one another is is pro-human and that I am pro-human and that I'm trying to help people recalibrate to the the physically scaled reality because everything digital partly because they go meta all the time everything scales up every company when you evaluate a digital company can it scale is it Global even the ones who think they're saving the Earth they only want solutions that are huge they call them you know X prizes or Moon shots they have to be scalable or they they won't fund they want to give only a hundred million dollars to one person rather than a million dollars to a hundred different people doing a hundred smaller Solutions it has to be giant you know so team human is about no no no stop with that meet your neighbors share things you know look into somebody's eyes walk around you know that experience yourself in human scale with other people rather than thinking that you have to operate at this digital global scale with with you know that you need a million followers on Instagram in order to be satisfied so how do you see these unfolding because you have these very powerful guys with this mindset that are already preparing for the end of the you know the collapse of the civilization I don't really do don't want to do anything to avoid it even though they could a little bit you know somehow and on the other side you have you know team human and people like you that are trying to alert people on the dangers of you know spending too much time with technology Etc and you have this difference in terms of of power and you see also States losing the power to companies or individuals you see tensions you know especially like in country like in the US but not only in the US where people don't understand each other and that's related to the structure of technology and to the structure of the mindset Etc what's the battlefield like how do you see things unfold and what will be the important the most important you know like tipping points or or points of tensions that we have to pay attention to um I mean the the I think the most important thing or the the initial point of attack on this problem is to uh help people be less afraid of one another you know to get people and I don't like saying I get people to do this or get people to do that because then it sounds like another um social programming I would say to help I would like to build uh uh I would like to build mechanisms and offer stories that engender more sharing and connection between people so the solutions are much easier than we want to believe so right now if you're in America let's say someone uh your daughter graduates high school right my daughter's graduating high school and you get a portrait when they graduate you know all right I want to hang the portrait on the wall and how I don't have a drill to drill a hole in the wall to put it what do I do I'm in America I drive to Home Depot I look for the minimum viable product drill you know but 39 I'll go buy this piece of drill that was manufactured you know took rare earth metals out of the ground from slaves in Africa and assembled by children in China and shipped here with all this pollution and plastic and crap and maybe it works once then maybe I six months later I use it again but it doesn't recharge whatever I throw it out what I should do I need to drill one hole in the wall should go to my neighbor's house go to Joe's house and say Joe can I borrow your drill I need to make a hole in the wall to hang a picture of my daughter sure Doug here's my drill and Joe's drill is nice because Joe builds things he's like that's why I went to Joe's house because I always see him make Joe has a real metal drill that he got maybe got it from his dad or he got it from his shop you know and I drill this big hole it's nice I bring it back to Joe until sure anytime Doug and then Joe feels welcome to say you know Doug my daughter's having problems in math you're one of those nerdy people would you come over for an hour and show her how to do this calculus thing because she can do of course I would Joe you let me your drill and then I go over there and then I meet Joe's wife and she cooks stuff and I'm like oh my God this is so good Could you teach me how to cook that and then we're friends and then I have a barbecue and they come over and it's like that's that's what Marx actually meant by socialism he didn't mean what Lennon did he didn't mean this giant spreadsheet managed Nation series he meant that our our economic inter yeah our economic interactions were local and social so I think that that's the beginning is to be willing to accept and ask for favors from other people most of us are willing to give favors to other people the the hard part is it really is for people to be willing to accept them because you feel like you owe something it's transactional uh oh you know what do I what do I owe them for them for for them giving me this so that's I think the beginning and then that rebuilds the fabric of our society it the argument against it and I've heard this what I've done talked about this in a talk someone got up and said well if everybody's borrowing drills from their neighbors what happens to the workers in the drill company they're going to start losing their jobs what about the old lady who's whose pension is dependent on the uh dividend that she gets from her stock in the drill company and then that's the crazy thing so you're saying that the human beings need to serve the economy at this point that that's how important the economy is so rather than the economy serving us we've got to now remake Our Lives to serve that and that's where again where I go back to we have to denaturalize power we have to let people understand that the systems by which we're living were invented by people a long time ago for reasons that were very particular to their situation but that may not apply to us let's bring out to your neighbors you know means accepting uncertainty accepting that you can be rejected accepting that uh you know taking the risk to that's going to get back to people want to precisely want to avoid in the first place now and or are convinced that they need to avoid it because it's about right but but I French think about making love yeah I know but think about but you probably do actually you're you're one of the most uh capitalist resistant places that we have um well you were um but but you think about making love it's like do you want to know everything they're going to do and when they're going to do it or isn't part of the excitement you don't know where their hands and mouth and you don't know where they're going to go next right it's it's it's that's the joy of the thing that we're trying to avoid that uncertainty is actually the thrill of life that's being alive if you get rid of the certainty or get rid of the uncertainty then you might as well that's what you're talking about one in the end you know or Ray kovitz said but but yeah there's something about that that we tend to forget which is about when with insurances and with uh the fear of uh of death also in the end is to accept the fact that life is all about mess big mess and uncertainty and and in the end it's uh we don't know right so but but I guess this is this is why it's so interesting what you say about the mindset because it's interesting to know where this all also individualistic culture that we are being brainwashed with uh come from you know all the fear the original fear of being rejected the original fear of being needy uh and and I I don't know if it's uh do you think this is I'm still wondering you know how we are going against this in a powerful way looking at the structures and looking looking at who is in control you know what what are the yeah I would say the the don't be fooled into thinking that we have to respond to this at scale it's possible that scale is the problem so I understand we as humans say okay we've got to create a movement so we can fight these dragons with our own kind of giant virtual scaled Avatar but that we may always lose because that abstracted space of scale is the home field of these corporations and Abstract institutions our home field advantages here on the planet is here on Earth as we are most powerful as Earthlings you know as earthlings because that's where we live so I would rather defend the Earth from the abstract gods that are now attacking us then try to go be an abstract God and fight for that space in some ways it's like if they want the internet let them have the internet you know let them have that and let's take back take back the land but it's scary because they're buying the land the biggest Farmland owner in America is Bill Gates right now so you know they're buying up physical reality they're buying water rights they're buying air rights so when they're buying their Bitcoin is what it's converting atoms into bits they're burning the planet for their token you know that's where we have to fight is for for the the app where do you started is it is it starting with I understand the scale thing because it's always uh it's the same you're getting back into the same game trying trying to to go meta because you need to fight with the the same weapons you know the same game you know you always hear this also like we you have to play by the rules if you want to beat the game but do you start you think this is about starting at an individual level and not first you know like working on yourself and not paying attention to the whole thing or is it [ __ ] you know like again individualistic yeah different people different people are going to work on different levels and write different books about different aspects of this so you know my friend Corey doctorow a science fiction writer he wrote a great book about choke point capitalism looking for him he says the place we have to work is breaking the monopolies of these companies and creating regulations that prevent them from doing this and that and he's right he's right and he's out there and stumping for that and some people will do that you know other people are going to teach children how to to you know think about themselves and and uh uh you know do education in classrooms that doesn't involve the iPad you know that that makes eye contact so that people can develop socially I'm going to be arguing for what I argue so there's there's so many different approaches there are political ones there's economic ones there are educational ones you know and I'm working on a a uh almost a a philosophical storytelling one that informs the work of lots of different people you know right now but my main my main message for 99 of us is that we can just do this where we are on the ground with with people you know we don't need not everybody needs to weigh in on every freaking thing not everybody needs to understand how the you know the startup economy works because they're they we will take the power away from Walmart and Amazon simply by sharing things with each other you do more 99 of us will do more by by aiding one another than you know posting Facebook posts about what's wrong with Amazon's uh business strategy what what gives you hope the most today when you look at the trajectory in the world what's going on around you if anything I guess what gives me hope is how young people will use whatever is at their disposal to uh nurture one another you know they really will that that yes there's all the bad things happening on all the social networks and everything but I remember when um Ariana Grande did this concert in Manchester a few years ago and someone bombed doing a bomb in there and some people died it was really bad and I saw my daughter was young when that happened and I saw all the girls on Tick Tock and Instagram were all consoling each other in such a positive way and deciding to use this to manifest something else they all talk about magic and manifesting and um and I look and I go you know it doesn't matter you know I had some of the best experiences of my life in the parking lot behind the 7-Eleven it's a horrible little grocery we have in the U.S so you find you know Love and Hope and social and creative uh urges find a

2023-04-17 13:15

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