Saturday, March 1, 2014

Good vs. Evil

A wise man once said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

We hear huge sums of money, hundreds of millions, billions, in financial news every day - while the kind of research important to the continued survival of humanity - e.g. space habitats, nuclear rockets, fast breeder nuclear reactors, controlled nuclear fusion, controlling aging, etc., are getting a pittance in resources.

Many people would say it's because the financial industry is greedy. But there's another perspective to look at this...

Who allowed the uninteresting people - the kind of people who cannot change the world for the better even if they want to - to run amok with our society's precious resources?

It is us. We ended up like this because we did nothing.

Saying "Y is fucked up because X is greedy" is just a way to push the blame to other people while riding on a moral high horse.

The fact is, everyone is greedy. The important difference is, whether the stuff you're going for is interesting or not.

Are you just looking forward to owning your house?

Or, are you looking for a 3D printer that can print carbon fiber or other high strength materials?

How about an automated aeroponics system? Can we automate food production?

Could somebody solve the email problem?

Could the entertainment industry and the financial industry be decentralized?

How is it possible that people still get sick and die from flu after hundreds of years of medical research?

Why can't I live forever? Why shouldn't I?

There's "greed", and then there's Greed. Same word, yet they live in entirely different dimensions.

The question is, how did the uninteresting kind of greed permeate our society? Thousands of years of intellectuals, philosophers, scientists, artists, musicians ... and we ended up with people wanting just a house? Who the fuck allowed this to happen?

A lot of interesting things happened back in the 1950s to 1970s. We've had plans to build spaceships that would travel to Alpha Centauri within a human's lifetime. It could also travel to Mars in a month. We've had designs for space habitats that could house hundreds of thousands of people.

None of that happened. It all stopped. Not even small scale experiments ever since we came to the 90s. We didn't even try.

How did that happen?

While the interesting people were doing their research, the kind of people who cannot make sense of changes... took control of our economic resources and public opinion.

And so we ended up with a world that's immensely boring. A Ferrari appearing in the streets of Bay Area isn't a triumph - part of the rich geek's mind is asking, "0 to 60 in 3 secs, a marvel of modern engineering - press on the pedal for 3 seconds often enough and a cop pulls me over - that's it?"

A few years ago, people were mostly complaining about Wall Street being too rich and dangerous.

Now, because Silicon Valley seems to be getting a small share of that power - people are beginning to complain about Silicon Valley too.

To a lot of people, the two don't seem very different - overpowered villains coming to destroy your livelihood. However, there is one very important difference.

In the modern Silicon Valley, it is the interesting people who take control of economic resources.

There is always someone who'd be in control of a larger share of economic resources. There're people who'd ask whether it should happen or not - and they became communists - the kind of people who'd like to pretend gravity doesn't exist. The correct question to ask, is who should end up with the control.

If Silicon Valley entrepreneurs don't take up that responsibility, it could very well fall into worse hands. The uninteresting people from Wall Street is one alternative (e.g. a certain think tank who just asked a certain tech CEO why he's doing new things rather than focusing on ROI, yesterday) - but there're other options far worse than these two.

Thus, the way things are going in the 2010s - young men taking control of economic resources because they're interesting - is arguably the best thing that could happen. The way I see it, if you want a Stanford Torus to happen within your lifetime - this is how it should be done.