Jim Rutt (Is GameB the new operating system for society?)
In this episode of the Judgment call Podcast Jim Rutt and I talk about:
- 00:02:10 A look into the distinguished life and career experience of Jim
- 00:14:04 What is GameB all about? What are the main tenets of this new operating system for society?
- 00:21:01 Is GameB setting a limit of the growth of society? Should population size be limited? Why the ‘West’ need to reduce resource consumption by 80%.
- 00:29:03 How Jim envisions citizens to be enticed by GameB?
- 00:35:10 Why do we see the decline in productivity growth? Is that a sign of the GameA coming to an end?
- 00:43:59 Jim’s thoughts on the singularity.
- 00:51:30 What role does and did religion play in human and economic development?
- 01:07:57 What happened to the voice of the Silicon Valley CEOs in the Free Speech Debate? Why wokeism won’t overcome the forces of competition.
- 01:21:01 Why the influence of the Frankfurt school has grown so visibly in the last 10-20 years? Why is the draw to socialism to strong lately?
- 01:29:21 Is an America with ONE Billion people a good idea?
- 01:33:13 ‘America is the best thing that ever happened to the human race’. Who said it?
- 01:38:01 Are we headed for a single global government?
- and much more!
You may also this episode on Youtube – #51 Jim Rutt (Is GameB the new operating system for society?).
Jim Rutt is the former CEO of Network Solutions. The New York Times once referred to him as “the Internet’s bad boy” due to his reputation for creative mischief. He sold Network Solutions at the peak of the Dot Com boom and then went into scientific research. Jim has been affiliated with the Santa Fe Institute since 2002, serving as Chairman from 2009 thru 2012.
Torsten Jacobi: So Jim, I’m really excited to have you on the podcast. I’ve been reading about you before and you have been one of the early internet pioneers you were involved into in the internet in the 80s and 90s and you were really early to the game. You were held considerable leadership positions in internet companies over the years and then you went to start the think tank and then now you started the podcast. How did this all happen?
Jim Rutt: Well, there’s a hell of a story. I actually got involved with what we now call the internet in 1980 when I went to work for a small company called The Source. It was literally the world’s first online consumer online service. It started in 1979 and by 1981, we had much of what we have on the web today. We had email, we had chat, we had shopping, we had news wire, stock prices, even some rudimentary precursors to social media, but it’s a big but. It was text mode only. Typical price was about eight to $10 an hour and that would have been $1980 worth about two and a half dollars compared to the current dollars and it was very slow, 30 characters a second, 300 bought as we would have said in those days. So it was kind of ludicrously low tech and yet functionally, it fed many of the ecological niches that the web does today and that was literally the starting point. Soon thereafter, hang on, that’s just a video. I’m back. Okay. All right, there we go. Yeah. So I did that for a couple of years and the company got acquired by a big dumb American publishing company called The Readers Digest and they did not understand the business. They thought we were a publishing business and forced us to invest heavily in content, these big dreary businessy databases that nobody used and were very expensive and hard to put up with the technology today. And when my view was that, and I presented this to top management, that our product was actually connecting people. And if we looked at all the services that actually did good business and the people liked, they were email, chat, bullet boards, the precursors to social media, something I invented called user publishing, which was a precursor to blogs and in some ways to medium and sub stack. But anyway, I concluded these people don’t know what the hell they’re doing. So I quit and went and started a company with a friend of mine to take what we had learned about how to build massive scale, relatively low cost online services and target them to higher dollar marketplaces, mostly Wall Street and corporate America. So I built a series of companies and the series of products that were quite successful in those categories. In 1986, we sold a bundle of companies to Thompson Corporation. And about six months later, I retired last about two days. I got talked into helping a friend of mine launch the cell phone industry company that’s one of the companies that eventually got rolled up into T mobile. I never did join that as a full time employee, but I was a consultant to them fairly regularly. That was a very interesting project. I did a couple other interesting small startups. And then I got retired again after I sold the last one of those. And then I got talked into doing a two day consulting assignment for what is today, Thompson Reuters. A friend of mine was running a division there. And I ended up staying six and a half years becoming their first CTO and their internet strategy guy. That would have been 1992 to 1999. And it was a lot of fun because here I was kind of the lead technologist for this very large $8 billion diversified professional publishing company. And probably 80% of our revenue was from print or CD ROMs might have been 90% 1992. And by 2000, we had moved that to about 90% online. So that was you know, right there at the pivot of publishing going from offline to online. And that was a lot of fun to help drive us just a little bit faster than the other guy. And we were a little faster than our competitors. We went from number four in our category to number one over about a 10 year period by being maybe 18 months faster than than our competitors in really understanding what the internet was about and getting there just a little bit faster than they did. Then my last gig in big corporate world was I was recruited away from Thompson to be the last CEO of Network Solutions, the company that actually ran the domain name system for the internet back in the day as a monopolist. We controlled comnet and org and we then we also ran the root where all the other domain suffixes the dot UK’s and the dot de’s etc originate. And the company was frankly a piece of shit. It was very poorly run amazingly badly run in many of its functions. And people asked me what the hell did you go there for? And I go well, they have an amazing franchise and it’s frankly easier to fix things than it is to build things fresh and worked out well. Part of my job was to manage the transition from monopoly status to competitive status. I was intimately involved in the negotiations that resulted in the creation of ITAN which is a governance not for profit which has control over the domain names and internet numbers and things of that sort. We came up with a fairly business friendly way of instantiating those and then a year later I sold the company and retired for good.
Torsten Jacobi: And you started a think tank? I feel like you must have read Play Do.
Jim Rutt: I did not start the think tank. The Santa Fe Institute which I’ve been associated with. People somehow think I was started. I did not. It was started back in the 80s by three Nobel prize winners. Way above my pay grade. But I did go out there. I’ll tell you a story how I got there. But first, very important to disabuse that story that I’m one of the founders of the Santa Fe Institute. Those were people much more distinguished than I who did that. People like Murray Gelman and Phil Anderson and John Holland. These are legends in the world of science. I’m a mirror midget in comparison. But anyway, when I retired from business in 2001, I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall back into my bad habit of going back into business again, which had happened before a couple times. And so I said, what are my interests that will last? And I conclude that it’s not business. I concluded that I loved evolutionary computing. That’s the discipline where software writes itself via Darwinian competition. Some of the subcategories are genetic algorithms, genetic programming, simulated annealing. And the area I decided to work in was neuro evolution, where we used genetic algorithms to evolve neural nets. And this was very cutting edge stuff in 2001. There was a small group of people at University of Texas doing it. Otherwise, it was the wild frontier. And so I, you know, I retired on April 1, 2001, went down the hall to my lab, which I’d set up a computational lab with lots of computers and stuff and started writing evolutionary software. And this came to the attention of a writer at the New York Times, and they wrote a story about it. Internet pioneer does what? And it was kind of fun. And that came to the attention of Santa Fe Institute. And they invited me out to visit. And I did. And we really hit it off. And, you know, our ways of thinking were very similar. I’d been reading some of the works of their people like John Holland and Melanie Mitchell, and Stuart Kaufman. And so I was, you know, relatively up on their approach to the world. And so anyway, our family, for various reasons, decided to move out to Santa Fe. And I joined up at the Santa Fe Institute as a joint, a junior researcher. And really enjoyed that. But alas, as often happens, I got sucked into the governance side of things, you know. Oh, you know, there’s someone actually knows how to run things. Maybe we can get him to help us run this place. And I probably should have said no, but I ended up saying yes. So I ended up as on their board of trustees, and then as the vice chairman, and then as the chairman of the board of the Santa Fe Institute, continuing some research, but not as much as I had been before. And in 2012, I stepped down from chairman and moved back to Virginia where I was from, though I am still closely associated with the Institute on their board of trustees, participate in scientific meetings out there from time to time, and, and, and such. So that was essentially, you know, my business tale and how I then pivoted to being an amateur citizen scientist.
Torsten Jacobi: I think it’s very interesting to see how you more through these different phases. And when you read Plato’s Republic, right, he describes different roles to people. There’s a warrior role, there’s the person who’s in business, and the person who starts the family, and then there’s the person still the same person. But over a certain timeframe, the role, once you have a certain set of experiences to be the philosopher is to be the teacher, to teach the young generation. Is that one of the goals you have in mind for the podcast that you started two years ago?
Jim Rutt: Absolutely. Yeah. And in fact, I would say around 2012, I said, all right, I’ve done a lot of stuff. It’s now time for me to be less a principle and more a catalyst for other people to take the world forward. And our Game B movement was certainly in that, in that sense. And definitely my podcast, I have a podcast, the Jim Rutsch Show, available on almost all known podcasting apps, also available at JimRutschShow.com, where we interview all kinds of interesting people about science, technology, radical social change, philosophy, you name it. And I do definitely do that as a service to the community to bring forth voices that I think would benefit from having more recognition.
Torsten Jacobi: Yeah, I’m a big fan of your podcast. You have some really eclectic voices on there. I was just listening to your podcast with Alexander Bart, who I think has quite, he’s quite different than any other guest. He has that disability to see the world through a very different prism of reality, which I feel is relatively rare, because we are all for some reason or another, are conditioned to believe and make sense of the concrete reality we live in, but we don’t really look much beyond that. Maybe because it doesn’t pay off, maybe we don’t want to run against certain barriers that we have with other people around us. You, when I want to want to find out what it means for you with game B, you are undertaking a complete new operating system for society. And I was curious, A, what’s wrong with society or was wrong, maybe it’s already being solved and B, what are like the main tenets, how are you going to solve these problems?
Jim Rutt: The main tenet of game B is that game A, while being very good in bringing the world a long way over the last, let’s call it 300 plus years, we can argue on the start date for the final phase of game A, but I would call it 1700 approximately. And, you know, if you go back and look at the data, most of humankind was remarkably poor, unhealthy, war ribbon, et cetera, in 1700. And now the number of people living in deep poverty is surprisingly small compared to even 20 years ago. And in the advanced countries, you know, a welfare mother lives better than Louis XIV in many ways with all the things that the modern world game A has brought to us. However, game A has no breaks. Game A did not know that it had limits, right? The idea of limits to growth in any serious way is really about a 1965 idea and didn’t get much traction until about 1975 and still is not the underlying ethos of game A. Game A is trapped in this cycle of money on money return that drives everything that you can think of from, you know, the strip mining of resources to the clearing of tropical rainforests at an accelerating rate to the exploitation of our cognition by the social media platforms so that they can sell us as advertising. And so the game B thesis is that while game A was indispensable in bringing us from backwardness and poverty and ignorance, it is not the operating system we need to go forward. We need to harness things like science and rationality, but we need to inform them with returns to our native human ways of living, typically in smaller groups with much emphasis on quality of life and on security and on developing ourselves as a person. You know, I think one of the things I’ve said about game B is wouldn’t it be great if rather than he who dies with the most toys wins is the winning metric as in game A, he who dies, he or she who dies with the most skills and has given the most back to their community is the winner. And those are some of the directions and ethos that we think of about this new social operating system. We also believe that the hierarchical command and control structures that epitomized game A and got better and better and better and more and more efficient also have no breaks in them. And that we need to develop new ways of organizing our work and our communities and our governance that are typically self organizing, network centric and decentralized. And this is hard work. And frankly, we do not know the answers. This is a work in progress. You know, there are ideas out there like sociocracy, holocracy, some others, people doing their own homebrew attempts and things like this. But none of them are yet what I would call proven operating systems at the community and the enterprise level. And game B is all about that. Game B will also very soon be launching proto bees, which are on the ground communities that will be operated by in game B principles, you know, actual communities on earth. And they will be coupled to the game A world. We are not hippies living in a hippie commune. We’re living in our proto bees, but we will be engaging the world. In fact, we believe we can outcompete the world in the game A world. We call it parasitizing game A by doing game A stuff better than game A itself and taking the resources and building game B in a much more humane fashion. Then that of course leads us to being able to win the competition for the hearts and souls of young people. When people, you know, turn 20, 21 years old and say, how do you want to live? Well, I can live in a small box in a big city and have a crushing job that I hate, where I can live in a beautiful place with compatible people, work 20 hours a week, have complete security, never be homeless, and participate in the growing of a new and better world. We suspect that pretty quickly, we’ll be outcompeting game A for the recruitment of the next generation and over a period of, you know, we’re willing to take 80 years to get there. Game B will just keep getting bigger and healthier and learning more and exploring the space of how does one build and operate a lovely human operating system designed for human flourishing and that we’ll be proud to leave to our children. Am I proud to leave game A to our children? No, but that’s one of the design goals of game B, is that we’re proud, not just tolerate, we’re proud to leave it to our children and our grandchildren, and we believe if people think about everything they do with that context, we’d have a very different world than the one we have today.
Torsten Jacobi: That’s really fascinating. I think there’s so much in that philosophy. On one hand, I think it’s really exciting and it wipes with a lot of people right now. I saw an essay that was written about it, I don’t know if you wrote it, where there’s some real life advice in there, like sleep more, control your finances, figure out how much you want to be exposed to certain advertising. That’s called a journey to game B and it’s available on Medium. It’s a very good introduction to the game B philosophy. Yeah, and that I think wipes immediately with pretty much any advice I would give to anyone, so to speak. We had guests on the show about digital nomadism, which involved a lot of these things. You need to take control of yourself, your skills, your own business, your own life, the place where you want to be, the relationships you want to have. I think this is, the old Greeks maybe would have given a similar advice. They would have formulated it differently. One thing, and I’m not sure I understand this right, when you talk about the limits of growth, right, it’s something that we hear or we associate with the Club of Rome, for instance, or in my mind, the bell immediately rings, that’s a Malthusian argument. Is that what you’re saying, meaning that there is a limit on the amount of people on this earth, there’s a limited amount of resources we can use in order to not pollute us even more. So we need to basically look into a future where we consume less, where we produce less trash, where we consume less energy, because it’s healthier for the planet, or I misunderstand you there.
Jim Rutt: Yep, you’re approximately right, though it’s somewhat ironic. The first thing I ever wrote for publication was a partial refutation of the Club of Rome report, and this was in 1974. Their problem was they were thinking linearly. Everything they did was based on linear forecast, and in reality, the universe is nonlinear. And I also pointed out humans are adaptive, we will learn things. And the Malthusian prognosticators of the 70s, the population bomb and things like that, turned out they were wrong, because humans in part adapted. And we were able to do things like the Green Revolution and GMO agriculture and intensified our uses of fertilizer. However, that doesn’t mean that they were wrong. It meant that they were wrong in the short term. And so the Game B perspective is that we want to use science and use technology and understand that the universe is nonlinear and that humans have ways of finding solutions to their problems. However, with the exponential continued acceleration of everything, we believe if we’re not careful, we’ll nonetheless overrun the limits of growth with things like obviously climate first. I think this was 1975. It wasn’t even on the hit parade of possible ways. I think it was called ozone layer at the time. And that’s something different, right? But much smaller and easier to fix. But at one far out limit, you have the problem of greenhouse gases. You have the problem of soil depletion around the world. You have the problem of financial instability. Even that alone could get us. Look at the debt we’ve built up since the pandemic. How are we going to manage that? That’s a very interesting question. Now, that’s a less severe problem in some ways than climate change. I can give you a formula for how to manage a transition away from our current debt ridden money supply. But all those are potential collapse points for Game A. And so our view is that Game A has reached its limits in many dimensions and not just one or two. And it’s hard to say which of those will bring it down. But we’re pretty convinced that if there isn’t serious, very serious reform, more than just tinkering, Game A will be reaching at least one of its limits by the end of the 21st century. And we need to build Game B, and maybe a lot earlier than that. We need to build Game B as a place the society goes to. And part of that is finding a lighter way to live on the earth. Those people who look really carefully at so called ecosystem services have calculated that unless there’s some new magic technology, which there might be in the future, and we do keep that in mind, the West needs to reduce its consumption of earth resources by about 80%. That sounds, oh my god, 80%. That still makes us richer than most people on earth today. And Game B will be, in part at least, about designing wonderful ways to live that are smaller scale. Do we really need 300 square meter houses? No, we don’t. This is an anomaly in history that two adults and one child have a 300 meter, 3000 square foot house unnecessary, and indeed probably unhealthful in terms of our real human beings. We’d be much better off in a much smaller house, call it, let’s try to do my metric math there, 10 square meter house, right? In a village with our neighbors nearby and shared infrastructure, shared vehicles, local farm on the property where we can grow our food, built in child care, so that we have people in the community whose job it is compensated by the community to take care of kids when they need care. And the same is true for education. So we think that we can actually build a better subjective way of life at a much lower impact on our ecosystem resources. Now, over time, as our technology continues to advance, we’ll have more ecosystem resources and more capabilities. For instance, we get to fusion energy or we really do solve electrical storage for batteries, etc. We may be able to ramp up the amount of electricity and power that we use in our society and we intend to do so. We’re not, what would be the word, ascetics, not necessarily ascetics for the sake of being ascetic, but rather for, you know, that it’s in congruence with the limits that are actually out there in the world, and it is congruent with a better way of living. So I think I want just to add nuance. Yes, we accept the idea of limits to growth, at least in the short term, but we’re nuanced about it, and we believe we can do so in a way that will actually produce a better way of life, not a worse way of life. And that’s the problem with so many degrowthers, you know, they make everybody think they need to be hippies living in a mud hut or something. That’s not at all the case.
Torsten Jacobi: Yeah, you know, some of what you just said, unfortunately reminds me of my past. I grew up in Eastern Germany. And there’s always, I think, a big appeal in asceticism with the intelligentsia. You know, it is something that the old Greeks found of interest. And I think with the very educated monks in the Middle Ages, they were all about being closer to God and giving up material possessions, because it is the better route for them. Nobody forced them, right? So it is something that is very popular. And I think that’s that we feel in ourselves is something where we can maybe live a better life, where very few people actually go to extremes with it, like live on a column, right? So just never move and stand on one leg for the next 20 years. Some people did that. And so that’s one side of it. And the other side of that is, it’s somehow in my experience, it never really scales. So when I think of Eastern Germany, it was very ascetic, right? We had one kind of bread, we had one kind of car, and none of them were great, but they all worked to some extent, right? The car drove you, but it was terrible. You had one kind of bread, you had one kind of meat. You didn’t starve to death, but it was great, there was no choice, there was no enjoyment. Unless you went to the library and read books, the ones that were available, you could enjoy them, right? So it was all like a forced monastery. And what I felt is, it’s not something that 90% of the population is interested in, 90% of the population is interested in, in a relatively narrow defined game, as you say, game A, right? A place where they can build a better future, where there’s lots of opportunity, where they see there is probably a better future for themselves and also for their children, that isn’t defined by the, by the big idea of, of, of what’s correct, what is the correct usage. It’s kind of like Adam Smith invisible hand, but it drives 90% of the people because they don’t want to go to the library, right? They want to buy a boat, they want to buy a bigger car, they want to buy a bigger house, they know it’s not necessary, but they still enjoy it. And what I always feel is, the 90% of the population might be, there might be a different ratio over time, whatever solution we come up with. And I agree with most of the criticism you’ve got, and some of the solutions also, whatever we want to design, we need to design for some, in a way that the 90% of this, this world buys into it voluntarily, right? Because if it’s not voluntarily, then the productivity goes down even further. So that would be my question, A, how are we going to do, how are you going to envision this? And B, why do you think human ingenuity has helped us with these crazy innovations with the way we’ve already changed productivity over the decades and over the centuries? Why do you think we can’t solve the issues that we now have had, like climate change or pollution? Why can’t, why does human ingenuity stop now? Well, it’s worked so far, but now it stops, and now we need to change the paradigm slightly.
Jim Rutt: Yeah, good question. It’s interesting you’re from East Germany. We often use the example of how the Eastern Bloc fell by a seduction, right? It was actually quite amazing in the history of the world that this very powerful, scary, totalitarian system collapsed because the people realized it wasn’t delivering the goods and that there was a much better way of life just across the line. And for the Germans, you know, it was most dramatic, right? They were right on the line. They could look over the, watch TV, listen to the radio. It was perfect A, B sampling, so to speak. Exactly. And the West, Game A was way better than Game C communism, right? And they were seduced away. And we actually use that analogy and say that over time, Game B will seduce people away from Game A by showing that there is a better, more colorful, more vivid, more humane, more secure, more psychologically based way of living than this rat race of Game A. I mean, I was a bit to being a Game A motherfucker, right? I was a hardcore player. You know, I was, though I was never into the fancy toys in the big houses. It was sometimes surprised people. You know, even when I was a big famous government, you know, corporate executives still live in the same old house I’d had for 17 years. I just didn’t, I still drove an old pickup truck. Just wasn’t interested in that part of the game. I did like to play to win though, no doubt about that. And, you know, Game B will have games to play to win, collaborative games at scale. We certainly don’t believe that innovation stops. We believe that Game B people will be better innovators because they will have a more humane life that they’re living. And they won’t be, frankly, driven crazy. I mean, have you ever been to Silicon Valley? A place is a nightmare, horrible place. You know, I’ve been, God knows how many times I was asked to join companies or organizations in Silicon Valley. I always said no, I wouldn’t live in Silicon Valley on a bet. And yet here’s some of our greatest creative minds, so called, living in Silicon Valley and what do they create? But nightmares like Facebook, right? And I think the next time you’re here, Jim, I’ll show you around. There’s some good places, but you gotta know where they are. I’ve spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley. I probably know them, but, but nonetheless, it is not a humane place to live. It’s a horror show, actually. And at least that’s our view. And that when people do see that you can still compete in innovation, in scholarship and research, and have a wonderful supportive community of good values, clean air, clean water, local food, et cetera, they’re going to look back at Game A, just like the West East Germans did, except for some of the old folks who I think supposedly have nostalgia for the old, the old ways and say, what in the world were we doing? And I think that if we do our job in Game B, you know, 60 years from now, people will be looking back and say, can you believe we would, we were working 60 hours a week and commuting an hour each way, and so that we could live in a, you know, box out in Livingston and what the hell, that was nuts. And that’s our view. And now to your, to your, to your point, but a lot of people are going to find that not an obvious transition at first, that’s okay. You know, we’ll take the first 10%. You know, we’re still talking to the 2%. You know, we’re great believers in the Jeff Moore crossing the chasm curves on how adoption happens. You know, first, there’s a 2% of innovators who are willing to try something new and think it through and see if it works for them. And then there’s the early adopters, the first 12% after that are thereabouts. And we’re not even close to getting to that stage. If we can get the early adopters to start to love game B and start to move over, we’ll get to 15%. And 15% is a known tipping point. If you have a social change undergoing, and particularly if the 15% are the thought leaders, the people other people look to for social signaling on how to live, then you’re, you’re actually already at a point where the transition is within sight of occurring. And then just gradually starting adding more people, and then we think that over time, eventually the world trans transitions to a game B world, not assuming no crisis. Now, the other side of it, and that’s what we call the long road to game B. And then the journey to game B, I explicitly caveat that this is the long road to game B. And this is where a game A does not just collapse somewhere along the line. The other alternative is that game B is moving along and has, you know, a few million adherents here are scattered around the world. And game A starts going into cardiac arrest around, you know, financial crisis, maybe an epistemic crisis, it may be social media is literally driving our country insane, all our countries insane. Could be war, could be plague, could be famine, could be the beginnings of climate change impact, hard to say what it might be. Then we believe that there’s an opportunity for game B to step forward and say, here, we have a template, we’ve been working on it for 15 years, it works at scales. There are five million people living it. And we invite other people to take our publicly available templates and go to it, folks. So that’s the short road to game B and either one’s possible.
Torsten Jacobi: A lot of people, when including me, are really looking at the last 50 years with a kind of a sad eye, and that might speak to your theory. The initial argument you made was that it’s kind of the limits of growth, but the limits of growth, we didn’t really talk about where they come from or what constitutes them. But one thing that a lot of people have noticed in an outside of Silicon Valley is that there is a declining productivity growth. So GDP growth is either driven by you increase the amount of people you have in your country or once you count, you can obviously change the accounting standards to what let’s assume they state the same. And then the other factor that comes into play is productivity growth. And outside of the Silicon industry, that also has spread now via software to other industries. And a few places in finance, especially investment banks, people who were able to use computing power to just leverage finance basically create money. That’s what they did, they created money. And that’s what banks can do. And then there is the courier case of China, but outside of this is a lot of industries that look today exactly like in the 70s or 80s, airplanes are the same, the cars are very much the same. Again, it depends on the abstraction level a little bit. And there’s more cars, certainly there’s an electronic display, but they do the same thing. They don’t go supersonic and they don’t fly around. And we have the building industry, for instance, that looks like 100 years ago. So all they’ve changed is that they have an iPad where they look at their plan, but they literally have still a guy working there doing the actual work. Nothing has changed in 200 years, probably looks like the Bronze Age in many areas. So they are ripe for disruption. And the massive parts of the economy, they’re probably 50, 60, 70% of the economy, healthcare too. But they seem to have been able to resist that change for good for them, right? Because the jobs didn’t change and people were still in the same jobs as they were 30, 40 years ago. But the economy has lost out on that. Why do you think that is? And if would game be change that?
Jim Rutt: One, I’m not 100% sure that that’s true. I know Elon Musk likes to talk about it. Where are my flying cars? Oh, I got 140 characters, I think was his quote. Yeah, Peter Thiel said it eventually first, but you know, it’s a theme now. Yeah, yeah. And in reality, there’s lots of improvement in all kinds of fields, right? Agriculture has continued to increase its productivity by 3x since I was a kid. I mean, that’s a lot in an area where you’re manipulating atoms. Chemistry has improved at least 3x on average. You know, the energy inputs, the raw material inputs, et cetera. You know, cars are in the process of making a big transition, it so appears. If I look out 15 years from now, transportation as a service may well replace the privately owned vehicle. That’ll be quite remarkable phase transition in personal transportation. And on the other hand, it’s a mature industry, and I still use this as an example about how amazing Game A is. You know, look for what you can buy for $25,000. I remember when my daughter bought her first car when she graduated from college, she paid $25,000 for a fairly neat little car. It was all wheel drive, had a turbocharger, had an air conditioner, had a really good sound system, and I stopped and thought about $25,000 is about six months work for a skilled workman. Could a workman in six months, how much of this car could they build by themselves? I said, maybe one seat, right? They could build one car seat in six months, even with a very nice shop. And so somehow the aggregated learnings of the previous 100 years had produced this amazing artifact for the equivalent of six months wages of a upper working class person. And that is indeed truly remarkable, and of course, is a stopper for alternatives, because you have to compete with this accumulated productivity learning curve if you’re going to displace it. And of course, the electric car business has found that to be the case, that it’s been slower than they would like, though it is starting to accelerate. In fact, I’m having Jim Hackett on my podcast in a couple of weeks. He’s the former CEO of Ford, and he’s the guy that put Ford on the path to becoming an all electric company. And I’m very, very interested on his vision of what those steps are and what the missteps are. Why is it taking so long? But it’s happening. And some of those areas are, you know, frankly, a matter of, you know, essentially, the laws of physics. You know, how much better can an airplane be? Though again, airplanes have gotten tremendously more efficient in terms of their fuel consumption, again, by a factor just a little bit less than a factor of three since 1960. So the, you know, the argument that nothing’s happened, I think, is actually not correct. Though it’s not, there hasn’t been like the kinds of domestic changes that happened in, say, my mother’s lifetime. My mother grew up in on a tenant farm in very rural part of America. They had no electricity, no running water, and no central heat. And during her lifetime, those things became what everybody had, but also things like refrigerators. They didn’t have any refrigerators. They had an ice box with a block of ice in it. You know, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers. We didn’t have any of those things when I was growing up as a kid. But by the time I was a teenager, we had most of those things. And so that domestic realm was revolutionized between, say, 1920 and 1965. And it’s just been refinement since. I think the only real major domestic invention since 1965 is the microwave oven, right? Everything else has been refinement. Because what else do we really need in terms of domestic things? Though, again, to come back to my theme, that for a while, things look like they’re stopped in the domestic side, we’re probably that far away from domestic house cleaning robots. It’d be more than 15 years, but probably less than 50. We have simple things like Roombas today, which in their own little way are kind of cute, but they’re obviously not strong AI. So again, we’ll see punctuated equilibrium and things like household automation. We’ll see punctuated equilibrium in the auto industry. Whether we’ll see that in the aerospace industry, I don’t know. One of the things we’ll probably see is unpiloted vehicles for a lot of things. Again, once the self driving cars, true level five self dropping cars, turns out to be a really hard problem, probably a lot harder, certainly a lot harder than doing the same in aerospace. And so once that particular nut is cracked, I think you’ll see a floodgate of new innovation that will bring back the sense that new things are happening. Let me add that though. They also add the, because I know you said growth, growth, growth. It’s a grain Bism that growth in terms of nominal GDP is not necessary. And certainly growth in terms of consumption of the macro sphere using more raw material, cutting down more trees, using more water is not necessary and is not necessarily good. We can grow instead into the microcosm. We can instead of having 140 shirts, like I own 40 shirts, that’s ridiculous. I can have five, but imagine that each one had beautiful embroidery on it. And I went to the local embroidery person in my village each week and asked her, well, what new ideas do you have to embroider my shirt with a new additional pattern to add to my shirt? There’s a way to grow into the microcosm where my life gets richer every time I have a new beautiful embroidery on my shirt without needing yet more shirts and this fanatical crazy idea called fashion, where the clothes that I have that are perfectly useful need to be thrown out, new ones bought just because some manipulator or influencer has convinced me that’s the thing to do. So I would say game B pushes back at the concept of GDP growth as a goal in and of itself. We need higher level metrics of well being and growth into the microcosm of richness of our life, which does not have to have anything to do with so called GDP growth.
Torsten Jacobi: Yeah, GDP is certainly just one proxy. I agree with you. And there is a lot of excess. And sooner or later that excess usually falls off because it’s just not people get excited about things. They go into certain rabbit holes and then 10 years later they discover man that was just not worth it. But in general, I feel there is this technological progress that you can you can see over thousands of years since the beginning of civilization. And wherever you put yourself on that graph of technological progress and obviously there’s different ways to measure it. It is predictive of GDP growth so far. You know, this might change in the future. But it’s been so far a pretty stable trend. One thing that I always ask and I’m really curious what you think about that. A lot of people here in Silicon Valley especially, we’re really excited about the singularity. It’s kind of a nerd stream, right? So the idea is that we get so much cheap computing power that all these things that we couldn’t put our hands on because it was still too expensive in terms of computing power will be easily accessible. So we can measure all the cells in the body. We can influence the cells in the body with nanobots. For instance, we have the and I think David Orban told me this. It’s the the measurement stick is about a thousand dollars and in spent. So $1,000 in $2,040 or $2,038 will buy you enough of an artificial intelligence for a billion human brains. Well, again, we will look at narrow AI. We won’t have like people who talk to us or AGI that will talk to us. But just it will be the sheer amount of power that is able that we can harness to look at the world’s problems and innovate or just make things slightly better just slight evolution. But this instead of having nine billion brains who are connected or not, you know, some of them are more connected than others. We will add a few billion brains every day, so to speak, and narrow AI that can help us solve these problems. Do you think there’s optimism that a lot of people here have is realistic or that’s just nonsense?
Jim Rutt: Well, I think there’s a great quote, which is that people tend to overestimate technology in the short run and underestimate it in the long run. I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about the singularity. I’ve spent time with Ray Kurzweil talking about it. Good friends with Ben Gertzel, who actually coined the term artificial general intelligence. I’ve been associated with his OpenCog project and a little bit more loosely with his SingularityNet project, which are both aiming at artificial general intelligence, i.e., broad and deep AI. I have found no re… And I’ve also, in my research, spent a lot of time thinking about what are the limits to human cognition? And there are many. In fact, if I have one quote I hope to be well known for, not being the inventor of snail mail, damn it, which is a friend of mine warned me what would be in my New York Times obituary if I don’t do something more interesting, is that humans are, to the first order, the stupidest possible general intelligence, because mother nature is seldom profligate in evolution. And so we’re almost certainly just over the line. We’re the first general intelligence in our evolutionary tree, and there’s no reason to expect that we’d be very far over that line. When you look at human cognition, there’s a million bottlenecks. The purpose of the most famous is Miller’s 7 plus or minus 2, our working memory size, which has huge impact on language, on reading, on all forms of symbolic communications. And it’s actually smaller than seven. It’s more like four when it comes to things like images or mathematics, et cetera. So that bottleneck alone tells me that human cognition is a very baby form of AGI. And further, our memories are famously bad. They’re limited. They’re corrupted. Every time you access them, you actually end up changing them in a random fashion. They’re not well indexed across each other. So in the longer term, I do believe that super intelligence is within humankind’s grasp if we don’t destroy advanced civilization before we get there. On the other hand, in the short term, think about self driving cars. What we are, 2021, four years ago, people were projecting today there would be level five self driving cars coming out from all the major manufacturers, not even close. However, they probably will crush that problem in about 10 years. With respect to any given example, you have to look at the details. Are you dealing with fundamental problems of quantum mechanics, for instance? And by the way, there is some real wins there in something as prosaic as the manufacturer of ammonia. The only reason that humanity has 8 billion people today and not 2 billion, which is about the carrying capacity of the earth without artificial fertilizers because of the Haberbash process and its descendants, where we take nitrogen from the air and turn it into ammonia and then make it into fertilizer. Turns out that’s a $60 billion a year business even today, just the manufacturer of the ammonia, the first big energy intensive step. It’s thought that there are some very significant optimizations possible if we have quantum computing that can actually quantum simulate the catalysis that goes on. The reason it works is there’s a catalysis that Haber invented and Bosch industrialized that allows the extraction of nitrogen from the atmosphere to be reasonably efficient, but it’s not that efficient. And if quantum computing could find a better catalytic system than the ones we’ve been able to find by trial and error, basically, we might be able to double the efficiency of that process, which would be a pure win of $30 billion a year to the human race. And it would not shock me that that happens in the next 20 to 40 years. I guess it’s a long answer to a short question. I believe there are some really huge deep wins for humanity if we can survive this century. However, are we going to have level five self driving cars in 2021? Hell no. In terms of your friend’s projection about 2039 and the ability to manipulate the molecules in our body, I don’t know. I don’t know enough about it. Something like that will probably happen someday for sure in 10,000 years, probably in 100, but in 20, I don’t know. We’ll see.
Yeah, I’m usually optimistic. There is so much potential to not just change. And I think in GDP terms, it doesn’t have to mean that we are very pollutant in that way, and that we really just see our GDP grow 100 times, 1000 times. And when you look at the energy that’s necessary to just go to the outside of our own solar system, we need to have a lot of clean energy. There’s just no other way around it, right? It’s either fission or it is some other form of nuclear energy, most likely that we have kind of mastered, but we kind of haven’t really scaled it up. And if we still have that dream in our minds that we are going to the stars, if you’re going to Mars, that we’re going to the moon, we’re going to Saturn, we need to solve those problems, right? But I’m extremely optimistic that and that will happen relatively quickly in the next 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 years. It is an amazing scaling up of GDP. Seemingly, we will see the biggest growth in economies that are the richest now. So we are used to these high GDP numbers. If you use this proxy and I understand there’s troubles with this proxy, we will probably see 10, 20, 30, 40, 50% GDP growth rates per year in the developed countries because AI can just simulate these problems and can solve them in relatively short amount of time with little energy required. That’s at least the science fiction behind it, right? So there’s a lot of stuff in the meantime that might go wrong. And obviously, we don’t want to choke ourselves to that before we get there. But what role do you feel in all of this innovation and the way we’ve developed over the last 10, 15,000 years? What do you think is the role of religion and specific religion also? What do you think what role has it played and what role is left for religion? Do we still need it? Well, my personal view, and this is certainly a minority view in the Game V world, is that we don’t need religion anymore and that we went through the enlightenment and I call that childhood’s end. And we no longer need to be superstitious or believe in magic. And so I push back against religion, at least any religion that includes anything that smells of magic. On the other hand, every cultural anthropologist I’ve ever talked to, every time I run into one, I ask them this question, the culture you study, either an existing culture or an archaeological culture, what are the chances that a smart ass 17 year old, and I’m thinking about myself here, would have gone to the village elders and say, you know, instead of always doing this rain dance and all the expense and distraction around it, why don’t we do an experiment? Let’s do the rain dance in this village and not do it in that village and let’s measure the rain for five years and see if the rain dance had any impact on rain. And the answer, from now about 40 different cultural anthropologists and archaeologists, is that literally would have been unthinkable in any pre modern society. We did not have the epistemic framework to understand that we can actually assess reality with a relatively high level of fidelity through something called science. And now that we have gone through that, the Enlightenment was it, right, literally ended 200,000 years of darkness, I call it the Enlightenment, that we no longer need magical thinking to move humanity forward. But the warning sign is that every culture has had this. And, you know, we are now what, 250 years past the Enlightenment, and large parts of our world are still plagued with adivistic religions. And so there must be something deep in the human genome that resonates with these particular hacks. And there must be bugs in our cognition that makes us susceptible to these hacks. And so that’s my take on religion. And then what do we do about it is there’s some folks who are affiliated, I would say adjacent to Game Bee, people like John Vervake, one of the Game Bee founders, Jordan Hall, have been working on a concept called the religion that’s not a religion, which is to craft something that has functional attributes of a, you know, a set of tools that make life simpler to navigate, that have the aspect of myth and narrative and a lens that takes complexity and reduces its dimensionality very substantially, provides ethical frameworks, et cetera, but does not include any magical thinking in it. And whether they can do that or not, I don’t know. But that would be the direction I would hope that what comes next after religion is what happens. Yeah, that’s a very interesting perspective. And I think it’s one that has gained a lot of following over the years, the last couple of years especially. What I think is important to consider, I think your colleagues might be after this, if you don’t, there’s still a lot of things we can’t explain. Lots of things we don’t know how they worked, or we can either say, well, we just don’t know, or we can give them this idea that there is a benevolent being out there, like a God, right? We can kind of talk ourselves into this illusion and you say, well, why would I do this? Why would I mislead myself? Why would I mislead my community? And I think the answer is, is that if you build this religious framework, it creates this enormous reduction in anxiety that people have. And instead of having this cold, dark space out there, you have a benevolent God who looks after you. Now, this might be an illusion, but once you start believing into this, you create faith. And what faith is, and we see this especially with Christianity, it’s this, I look at the world way more positive than I should. I’m actually not as realistic as I am. And you think, oh, why would I do this? You kind of paint your life more pink in a way that’s misleading first to yourself, and you will do probably, you will not be able to make the right decisions. But what happens in this complex system called society is that we go to someone and are positive, are bringing up an attitude, a friendly attitude with the Christian love, right? Then the other person is much more inclined to engage in use for conversation with us. So what that does, it makes it much easier to share knowledge, to have a common trust, to gain productivity, because we can all specialize more, because we trust more people. And again, trust, it isn’t a zero sum game, right? It needs to start with someone who has the trust of someone else, probably no good reason. And then this just has this network effect goes through society, we all trust ourselves way more and other people around us, we can specialize, we become more productive. And I feel that people underestimate the role of religion, especially if you don’t have a nation state, I think the nation state and modern institutions to some extent fill that gap, that religious instinct, and the same kind of motivation would be filled. And that’s a relatively recent problem is that a lot of people are questioning these institutions, questioning a lot of beliefs behind those. And they’re asking, why do we have a certain way of thinking? Why is it? And I think, especially in the US, look back to the constitution, what I question is, why do we need a constitution? Why do we even need a written constitution? Why doesn’t the constitution just change, right? So there’s a lot of answers we just don’t have if we imply, if you just imply religious values into seemingly secular institutions. And that’s how we look at them right now. We say, well, we actually really don’t know that it’s like someone called John Locke, who had these ideas. But when we follow this guy, when we follow someone else? Well, I would, that’s a great question. And this is something I’ve thought about a lot. And you actually gave the answer, which is we have to elevate the statement, I don’t know, to an almost holy level. You know, I read a lot of scientific papers, and the best papers by the best scientists say it is not known X, Y, and Z all the time. It’s the, it’s the essence of the scientific call it the enlightenment view is there is an awful lot of things we don’t know. And there are frankly a lot of things we may never know. For instance, does the universe have some purpose? I just find it astounding that people who invent these religions invent purposes for the universe. I mean, why would you think that today, our tiny little selves on our tiny little planet in this small solar system, in this vast galaxy of 100 billion galaxies, would have the standing to assess what is the purpose of the universe, right? Well, Karl Marx said, you know, religion is the opium for the masses. But I think it’s the coffee for the masses. It kind of gives you the ability to think better and to look into the future in a much more positive light than you otherwise would. I think there’s some empirical evidence that would dispute that. Probably the least religious countries in the world are the Northern European countries. You can basically Scandinavia plus the Netherlands and the UK. The Danish typically rank number one on human happiness. The Swedes are right up there. And they also rank the highest on disbelief in religion. So the very religious countries from the outside, if you go to this church is everywhere. It’s kind of like Germany. These churches everywhere, but people say I’m not religious. And I’m like, but everything in your country, everything that you daily on a daily basis interact with is basically Christian and Christian institutions. And they look at me and say, no, no, no, that’s the secular part. But I’m like, you can’t separate this. You can’t just pretend you’re not religious, but you live in a deeply religious state. It’s kind of like saying, you know, you live in a very Muslim country, but you don’t take the inspiration from the Quran, but from a book that is exact copy of the Quran, but has a different title and say, well, no, it’s not religious. It’s the state document, whatever you want to call it. That’s just, I don’t think it’s right. And if you look at a lot of modern innovative countries, you know, Israel, the US, they’re quite religious. Though Israel is less religious than you’d think, majority of people in Israel are nonbelievers. And the US is the fastest growing religious group is the nonbelievers. It’s still a minority, but it’s the fastest growing. I would dispute that actually. Yes, Scandinavia and Germany, etc. are full of churches, but guess what? They’re all empty, right? Nobody goes to them. And yes, we all had to come from somewhere. And Christianity was actually useful in being a precursor to the Enlightenment in that, in particular, it highlighted human autonomy and human kind of deep equality, at least in the eyes of God, which allowed further thinkers like Thomas Jefferson to say, we are just all equal, period, right? We don’t need the, we don’t need the hand of God to tell us so that we may have used some mildly religious language to say so. He was not a believer in Christianity. And in his letters, he’s very clear about that. So I think it is an error to attribute the fact that the most advanced countries on earth have had religious backgrounds to say that they are now religious. We all have whatever background we came from. Our societies were built from our paths, and some of that had some religious content in it, but we’ve repurposed it. And I think that is my takeaway, that we are sovereign. Humans are now sovereign upon the earth, and it’s our duty to create a social operating system that works for us, the humans, and not to take the shortcut and say, oh yeah, Santa Claus makes children good, therefore, we must tell people Santa Claus is real. That’s the exact equivalent of saying, all right, saying the white guy in the sky is looking out for us will make people better. So therefore, we should tell everybody the white guy and the white bearded guy in the sky exists. I just find it a, you know, something we need to grow our way out of, and the most advanced countries are doing so. Did you tell your grandchildren or your children about Santa Claus? I did. How long did they, did they believe in it? Until about seven, age seven or so, though I did get my daughter good when she was just starting to be questioned. This was when a second phone line was unusual. I happened to have one for my computer, and so I called our home number from my basement office and put on a deep, oh, oh, oh, I’d like to talk to my daughter, you know, and I chatted with her. You’re guilty in perpetuating that myth. Yeah, so I was guilty, I added one year to her belief. Just because I liked it as a cultural thing, not that I was a believer in either Santa Claus or Christianity. And so I think we can take the good things from Christianity and Judaism and Islam and Hinduism and Buddhism, and we are in control. We are the, we are the first general intelligence. It’s our job to formulate a social operating system that works for us as homo sapiens. And I think we should not take the coward’s way out and appeal to the guy with the white beard in the sky and put the words in his mouth that we want. But Jim, you’re still doing this. We just, we just have a different mental picture of that thing. Like I’d say it’s AI or it’s the singularity for you. It’s the way to live in harmony with nature with Gaia, right? So these things don’t really, we can say, oh, well, religion isn’t good, but we behave in the same way it might not be. And, you know, we probably 100% degree on what happened to organized religion, especially to Catholicism. But I think this religious instinct is still there. And I think we have to respond to it. And when I think we all do, right, so we have to come up, maybe it’s just a vision of the future. But I agree with you, we’ve got to stay flexible on what I’m after is kind of this does matter religion, you know, what do we, what is the excerpt on what is kind of the best thing that we learned out of each individual religion? How do we, how do we combine it? How do we make it sexy? Because if you don’t sell it, then, you know, it nobody cares about that. But I think this was the great thing about Christianity is took something that was really heavy, but working well, and made it sexy and packaged it, it’s kind of like what America does to Silicon Valley does to a lot of tech, right? People come here to raise money, they commercialize it, steal someone else’s technology of thought process, and then they get all rich. Yeah, by the way, I’ll tell you an interesting story, which I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I like it, which is why is the United States the most religious of all advanced countries? And it’s because it’s the one that had no state religion. You know, in the places that have state religions, religion got lazy and not very good at selling the sex, shall we say? United States, all the religions were always in ferocious competition. And they had to make themselves sexier and more efficacious if they were going to compete in the marketplace for souls. And so the US is actually the beneficiary, I want to call it that, I’d say the victim, of very virulent religions that have been tuned by competition in ways that the religions, in most parts of the world, have not been. Yeah, I mean, I think we can agree 100% on this. Wherever you introduce competition in the marketplace and you use regulation, as long as you don’t start killing people, the results are usually very nice. And it’s funny that it even applies to religion. We have such a good example for that. I want to talk about a different aspect about Silicon Valley. And it’s something that I personally found really strange to witness over the last couple of years, two or three or four years. There is a lot of talk about what the role social media plays and how, well, it works not just as a platform, but as a way to accentuate certain opinions. And these opinions seem to be pretty binary. So that might be the AI that does that, or it might be because people have gotten so polarized. I’m not sure what the actual reason is, maybe you know more. And the other question that really vexes me is what happened to all these Silicon Valley CEOs that started out of Don’t Be Evil, of democratizing the access to knowledge, of trying to create something positive, kind of like the Berkeley style of the internet. It seems to have gone away. And when we had these free speech debates in the last couple of years, none of these people showed up. They never put their voice out there. And they had, from my point of view, nothing to lose. They’re already billionaires. They’re companies have grown up. They could basically do whatever they want. If they’re CEO or not, their life wouldn’t change at all. Well, there’s one exception. Zuckerberg, who otherwise I loathe, did give his free speech speech at Georgetown University. And those who want to get an amazing sense of where the direction we should be going, Google Zuckerberg Georgetown University speech. And you will find a guy who actually did step out and try to do it. But he got crushed by this wave that is building that the time has come to suppress speech and to mold the discourse. And all the Silicon Valley oligarchs, I call the peculiar oligarchs, have knuckled under to this and are now rapidly attempting to distort discourse in an extraordinarily bad fashion. And Facebook is amongst the worst now, even though Zuck himself knows it’s wrong. They are succumbing to what I call the woke disease, essentially, the mind virus that has penetrated 15% or so of Americans. And unfortunately, 15% of Americans that are exceptionally concentrated in areas of influence in media, academic academia, and corporate America. And this has resulted in something that those of us have been doing the online world since the beginning, find incredibly wrongheaded. In fact, I personally was a victim of Facebook’s banning technology. It was an error, I presume. The three admins of the Game B group were all simultaneously banned with the death penalty ban, the one that’s not appealable, non reversible, etc. And fortunately, we have lots of friends and quickly there was literally six million people on Twitter calling for us to be reinstated. We knew people at Facebook, they looked into it within 10 hours, it was reversed. And I believe it was an artifact of Facebook’s campaign against QAnon, even though Game B and QAnon have absolutely nothing in common. In fact, they have the exact opposite from an epistemic perspective. The fact that we’re both exploring ideas, we use our own languages, etc, probably triggered some deep learning algorithm that said, these people are like QAnon, even though the semantics are entirely different. It’s important to remember that these deep learning AIs have no semantics at all. They’re essentially statistical pattern matches, and it’s all they are. And for Facebook to have let loose hunter killer AIs with death penalty power on sloppy algorithms tuned on QAnon is criminal negligence, in my opinion. And this must stop. And, you know, so the interesting thing is how biased they are. They go after QAnon, but they don’t go after, you know, say the people who were claiming that Trump was in conspiracy with the Russians, which was not true. The Mueller report demonstrated pretty conclusively that while Trump may be a vile piece of shit, which he is in my opinion, he did not conspire with the Russians. And those who continue to maintain that he did are just as guilty of conspiracy theory thinking as the QAnons. Is Facebook going after them? No, it’s not. And that’s because the motivation for censorship is not an objective attempt to clean up the epistemic commons. It’s a point of view perspective being waged by the wokeys. Yeah, there is, there is, I think we fought these battles over the last couple of years. And I think the only way out of this is once that people realize they’re being manipulated every day by the way the feed works and what stories are presented to them. And I think this message has made it to most people finally. It took quite some time, but it’s something that I think all of us didn’t know two or three years about or we didn’t care about it. We just, we felt there is some kind of algorithm going on and it’s kind of engaging. But it was something that is deeply addictive. And it’s really weird to the human brain, but I think people are finally waking up to this. And it’s very quickly becoming the new norm that you have that knowledge. So I think that’s really good. The human mind is capable enough to wield itself of these addictions on average, right? There’s always people who have more trouble with this than others. Maybe. I mean, it’s very, very powerful. And I agree. People know, I mean, the social dilemma. It’s an amazing movie. If you haven’t seen it, please check it out on Netflix. I was an informal advisor behind the scenes to some of the folks that were creating that. And I think it is an extraordinarily accurate portrayal of how Facebook in particular, and it’s clearly based on Facebook, manipulate us in profound ways. And yet the number of people quitting Facebook is tiny. However, our Game B group did quit Facebook, even though we got reinstated when we still have a group there. We built our own site that those interested www.game.b.org. And most of our community has now moved there. And we’re finding more and more people are no longer willing to build their communities on these platforms and rather building their own communities. The tools are now very inexpensive and very good. You can actually build a better community than Facebook tools provide for relatively trivial amounts of money. And so but that’s only beginning. It’s just the tiniest bit. This is again, we talked about the 2% innovators. It’s only 2% of people who are moving off of Facebook or getting rid of their smartphones or turning all notifications off or all the digital hygiene things that one ought to be doing to, you know, get themselves out of the clutches of these dopamine miners, right? That’s what they’re doing. If Bitcoin miners are wasting electricity to find binary digits that meet a certain pattern, you know, Facebook is burning electricity to mine your dopamine to get you to buy things otherwise manipulate you. And only a very few people have seen the life and that Game B is a big part of that is how do we collectively make sense of the world and not become manipulated by these behemoths who have gone bad, in my opinion, and have given up on the internet ethos. A lot of people say that the appearance of vocism typically means your business model has reached the end of its lifespan and you’re trying to create more PR, you’re trying to kind of still justify your existence. And it’s a good indicator, good predictive indicator, the future of that business. And I don’t know if you remember, there were a bunch of these super woke websites that came up 2013, 14. And they did very well initially on Facebook and then posted their traffic into Facebook. And Facebook tinkered with the algorithm and eventually their traffic died down and they had literally no traffic anymore. The stories say the same, but it was no traffic. Nobody seemed to be really interested in that, at least going to the through the different portal to access them through their website instead of just going through Facebook. And I feel this is correct, right? When you when you look at universities, the ones that are most woke, they, their cost structure doesn’t match the marketplace needs anymore. When you look at journalism, we see that we see this even with individual journalists, the ones who seem to be super woke, they seem to have an ambition that doesn’t really match their success so far. Now this could be just because they are very smart, right? Maybe vocism is very smart, I would argue against this, but I guess you can make that argument. But I feel it is kind of a, a last straw ideology that you, that you try to, to use in order to prop up your dying business. But you know what? It doesn’t change anything. You might be able to extend the lifespan of your business for a couple of years, but your business model is dying. And that’s for me, the good news. So the good news is that opportunities, competition always wins. And if you just go political and go, well, this might help to create some PR and clicks, but it won’t change your business model and you will die anyways. Yeah, I think, I think there’s some truth to that. But I think it’s actually more insidious than that. What’s going on, you know, woke is not a movement against the right. Some, some people naively say, oh, but choices woke or Trump wrong. Woke is an attempt to take over the progressive side of the political discourse by a very specific ideology, essentially critical theories inherited from the Frankfurt School of Marxism. And so this is very much like Lenin, liquidating the Mensheviks in pre revolutionary and early revolutionary Russia, or Hitler killing off all of his collaborators in the night of the long knives in, in Germany. So don’t mistake what woke is about. Woke’s enemy is not the Trumpsters. Woke’s enemy is people who believe in the Enlightenment, who believe in universal liberal humanism as the route right to equality for all the Martin Luther King style of civil rights in the US context, the things that abolish slavery gave gave us women the right to vote. Feminism, the civil rights acts of 64, 65 and 68, and have been, and have been working consistently to bring the vision of all people are created equal to reality. That is not what the woke’s are about. They’re using that as a cover story instead to seize the progressive movement for what’s inherently a perverse, bad, and eventually totalitarian vision. And the fact that people like the Silicon Valley peculiar oligarchs have fallen for this shows me how little aware they are what’s really going on. And they are fearful because many of their employees have been converted to wokeism. It’s a very effective meme virus, memetic mind virus that for certain people, particularly those who went to school at elite universities where the diseases most progressed have had it subtly injected into their brain. And it’s really, really scary. And it’s something we all have to now those of us who continue to resist have to fight back or the progressive cause will be taken over by these people. At least in the United States, that’s going to mean the victory of hardcore conservatism. Because wokeism is not going to win in the United States at the national level. And if progressivism gets tarred with the brush of wokeism, you can kiss a goodbye. And that’s the fight we have to fight. A lot of people attribute that particular kind of wokeism to postmodernism and to Derrida and Foucault and actually picked up a couple of their books because it was curious. And I couldn’t see much of that in that they were kind of questioning what we talked about earlier these these assumptions that come from a much earlier age that are still in our culture. And we are not really talking about that. And that’s how I perceive them both. That’s how they talk about Hegel or Kant and Schopenhauer. And they’re trying to find out why do we have these assumptions or why don’t we think differently. But the I think you you attributed to the to the Frankfurt School. And it’s it’s something that that didn’t get a lot of it. It didn’t really get very far in Western Europe. There was a following but it never really took off. What do you think it took 80 90 years? And why did it take off in the US? Why is it suddenly so popular? Is this something we don’t see is a pattern? Is it just people are not happy with the current state of affairs? There’s not enough opportunities. But it has generated quite a bit of a following out of nowhere. I feel the last 10 years. It’s actually not out of nowhere. It’s been gradually happening. It’s not particularly well known except for those who went to an elite university. But the humanities departments in particular and the social science departments a little bit less so but not much less. So we’re essentially taken over by Marxists in the 60s and 70s. And they’re consolidated that position in the 80s. What happened? Marxism failed, right? And, you know, the straight up mark economic Marxism failed. And so those people were wide open. And of course, some of the inventor the later developers of the post modernist theories of which woke is kind of a lumpen, flattened version were also kind of disillusioned Marxists and needed something new to take the place of their religion when it when the God was proven to be false. And so this what people call cultural Marxism or neo Marxism had a ready audience in American humanities departments and social science departments. And so beginning in the 80s, it started to penetrate there. And then when Marxism as a going concern fell in 1990, 1991, that was perfectly fertile field for those people to adopt it. And then it basically has just grown since then. And so it’s not like it’s a magic infection that suddenly started 10 years ago, this goes back 30 years, at least, and that was the infiltration of the humanities and social science departments by Marxist, that was the the fertile ground for Frankfurt School to essentially blossom in when actual Marxism failed. But why do you think it gained so many followers? I mean, I understand it’s much older. I’m with you. But why does it keep keep getting so many followers? And now you say they’re they’re in more influential positions. So we see a stronger effect than actually that the numbers would suggest. But what I still can’t answer for myself is, and I’ve been thinking about that, why in the country that still has the most opportunities, we definitely have from my point of view, we have a dearth of opportunities over the last 20, 30 years, especially past and ideas. But we still have more compared for young people compared to pretty much anywhere else on the planet. Why is it still so appealing to people? Is it because they grew up with this kind of victim role? Is it because we we have kind of coddled our children too much? I think those things all play into it from my point of view. But I think if you give a young adult a great opportunity, be as an entrepreneur, being as someone who’s changing the world through philosophy, changing the world through a computer program, changing the world through a healthcare innovation, isn’t that always more appealing to people? You would think, but notice where I mentioned where they came from, they come from humanities departments and social science departments. Yeah, exactly. Further, and this is I don’t have proof. If anyone has proof, please forward it to me. But anecdotally, based on the people that I know who are infected with the woke mind virus, most of them came from upper middle class backgrounds, not from working class or lower middle class backgrounds. And for those folks, especially if you happen to come through the social sciences or the humanities, your life trajectory prospects are going to be you’re probably going to underachieve what your parents achieved. And you feel and you say nonetheless, I’m a smart person. And yeah, if you went to Yale and studied medieval history, you’re almost certainly a very smart person. But on the other hand, you’re probably likely to be a barista at Starbucks at this point in time, unless you went and learned Python or, you know, how to do what you said earlier, income, income isn’t what we should look at. Was that you said GDP is not a good measure because we should look at healthy GDP, but higher living quality, maybe that’s better living quality. Yeah, maybe. And if they were living in a game B world, whether across the living was low and the quality of life was high, it could work. And that’s going to be part of the sale of game B, which is for those of you who have chosen to not engage the GDP money on money return game all out, but want to have a really good quality of life. And oh, by the way, you know, the you can have a kind of a fun life as a 25 year old barista, but it is no way to raise a family. And a society that is not organized to optimize the life of young adults with children is a society that’s on its way to do its doom. And so one of the key design design factors in proto bees is will this be a great place for middle income and lower middle income young adults with children to raise their children. And so anyway, I think these a lot of Eric Hoffer wrote a great book called The True Believer. He wrote it back in the 30s and he was fascinated by the fact that many Nazis had been ex communists. And he goes, how could that be, right? And he went and researched and thought about it. And what he discovered was a lot of them were what he called frustrated people, people who were a relatively high nominal capability, but for various reasons were unable to get much traction in the world. And so they were angry with the world and they were therefore open to panaceas of all sort. And so if my hypothesis is correct, that the principal victim of the woke virus is upper middle class people who went to elite universities and studied non economically useful studies. They come out of the world resentful that they’re not getting their due. And so therefore they are true believers. And they were exposed at an impressionable age to wokeism. And so they are very ready for the virus to invade their brain. So that’s my quick and dirty view of how it’s happened. And I would say it’s happened gradually. I don’t, I haven’t seen a, you know, a one sudden step function. I think they’ve gotten a lot louder since Trump got elected. It was unfortunately, and this is the huge mistake of so many progressives, that they think the choice is woke or Trump. And it’s not, you know, the choice is woke or universal humanistic liberalism. And though that against Trump. And I think that the Trump phenomenon basically stampeded a lot of people into a greater openness for this mine virus, though keeping in mind this idea of susceptibility in the Eric Hoffer model that I laid out there. Yeah, I guess the actual political motivations are typically are typically more complicated. And we’ve been drawn into this strange binary world. And I think a lot of people who work with AI, they feel like AI is just not smart enough to really optimize in, because it’s all about cohorts, right? So it’s all about how do you basically in which bucket do you put people. And as many, ideally, you don’t have too many of different cohorts, because that makes it harder to, to find the right one for, for, for the particular person that you want to put into that bucket. So the assumption is that because AI is still relatively primitive, it cannot see nuance on what we see on, on social media. I think this is where this whole phenomenon started, is this very binary review just works very well in terms of engagement. And that draw that really gave us this, this polarization on both ends. I feel it’s over now, because people have realized that’s what’s happening that being manipulated and they’re hopefully going back to real problem solving. One idea that I wanted to run by you, and maybe that speaks to game B as well. There is this plan, not an actual plan, but it is. And something people talk about is to bring in a billion people into 750 million. So we would end up to add a billion people into the US and then extend to 20 years. So basically, we go anywhere we can, and we recruit as many new Americans as we can. There’s a couple of rules how this will work, what you should do, what you’re not allowed to do. But we would basically, in the terms of sheer population size, would end up like China. And we would also maybe propagate our American values to these new immigrants. That’s obviously a maybe. What do you think of this plan? I’d never heard of that plan. It’s kind of interesting. I’m going to think about it. I personally, personally don’t like it. I’d like to see the United States have a population of more like 150 million than the 330 million we have today. The US is less depleted than most places by its population. But a place would be a great paradise with a lot more opportunity for living the good life at 150 million than it is at 330. So on aesthetic grounds, I don’t like the idea of a billion, but I can see the idea from a global political competition perspective, you know, us versus China, having a billion Americans could be useful. However, I think you point on, you pointed to the biggest question. Could you actually acculturate them as Americans? Hell, we’re having a tremendously difficult time acculturating the couple of million a year of immigrants that we have now. Huge stresses going on, though I think actually the acculturation of immigrants is going better than a lot of people think. I’m very optimistic that the big Hispanic immigration in the United States over the last 30 years will work out just fine. A lot of the people were from very rural peasant backgrounds. And when peasants come to town, it takes four generations to acculturate them. That’s just the way it is. And it seems to be working more or less on track. So I’m not like some bothered by that or thinking that the American assimilation operating system has failed. But even this relatively low level of immigration has stressed it and been perceived to be not working. If you increase that to, you know, by a factor of 10, I don’t know. That would be one of several questions I’d ask. I really like that plan instinctively, but I haven’t thought it through in all its elements, obviously. Because we already work on this theory to make the world very American, right? We as Americans, we still have that idea. And that will be my next question, that America is something special. We’ve inherited a system that for better awards work pretty well. We have very high GDP that we arrived at. Again, GDP may be not a good measurement for you, but we have great living standards. We have an ideology that we present to the rest of the world that seems to be, as content from Hollywood seems to be something a lot of people want in other countries. So it sounds pretty well. We’ve been very adept at selling this cultural way of life, Game A, as you would call it. Is that something you would feel proud of? Like if I ask you, are you a patriot? For what reason would you be proud of America? Yes, I am a patriot. And I believe that in Game A terms, America was the best thing that happened to the human race. We are the ones who took the enlightenment seriously. We actually built the first government for and by the people. We banned religion from the government. We had no established church. And on the other hand, we were guilty of some horrible sins along the way. Building slavery into the Constitution was not a good thing to have done. Obviously, we had to displace the Indians. On the other hand, that’s what was done in those days. It was all societies were a test of strength between civilizations. And so within the rules of 1650, while horrible as it is, it was within the socially accepted laws of nations at that time. But all that said, some negative history, but I am an American patriot and believe that Game A would have been a shitload worse without America. And so I hope that America will take the lead or be amongst the leaders of making it to Game B. And I will say that one of the things I love about our Game B movement, we’re able to actually see where people are coming from who’ve joined our websites and half are outside the US. So it’s not a US only thing by any means. There are people from all over the world, a huge number, probably bigger per capita than the US from Australia, Canada, Germany, Sweden, UK, for a substantial number from India, but from all kinds of strange places. So it’s a worldwide idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised if America takes one of the leading takes the leading role in it. Along the line, it’s had a very interesting thought the other day, which is as we have looked at how the COVID thing has gone, it’s kind of highlighted to my mind the strengths and the weaknesses of the Anglo Saxon approach versus the European continental approach. England and the US were sloppy and chaotic in the early stages, didn’t do as good of getting people to engage in social distancing and wearing masks, etc. On the other hand, where did all the vaccines come from and who’s doing a great job in rolling the vaccines out? Good old Anglo Saxon states plus Israel. And so I think it’s exemplified both the weaknesses and the strengths of the American or broader the Anglo Saxon way of life. We’re sloppy, but we’re innovative. And give us enough time, we’ll produce a really powerful punch and knock you on your ass. Just ask Hitler, ask Tojo, right? Took us a while to spin up, but once we spin up, we whip their ass. And so I still believe America has some of that, less of it every day, unfortunately. And part of Game B has got to be a moral reawakening to our roots as free people who are not having our brains polluted by strange ideologies who understand what reality is, deal with reality objectively, empirically, and experimentally as we design what comes next. That I would say is the American way. I’m glad to hear that. I’m glad to hear that. I had Yannir Bayamon and Simon Anhold. And I think they want the right thing. They’re both really distinguished professionals in their places. But I think they are airing on the side of what you just said about COVID is basically we let competition go, right? So we had states and countries, they all chose their own way. Some of them did it better. And the US usually gets it wrong. And then we get it right. That seems to be our MO, whatever we do. And it seems to be working for us in the end. I think what a lot of thinkers are airing, well, maybe they’re not airing, what they’re pushing for is more collaboration, right? There’s more of a, not necessarily like a global superpower, or not the US as a superpower, but like a UN body, but something more informal that basically does collaborative work. So there’s this really interesting theory with COVID. The idea is if we all stay home, literally everyone on the planet stays home, we’d be buck or up food. I mean, we stay home for six weeks, then COVID must be gone because it will be gone, right? Because nobody can get infected anymore. That would work. If we had the ability to do that in the Chinese, we’re not far from that, right? We would all have to do it, right? Literally, we would all be sealed into our homes, get enough food, get some preparation time, and then we would come out and COVID would be history or pretty much any other disease that has similar statistics. So that’s one thing. Obviously, climate change, a lot of people have that same impression about climate changes. If we just all would do exactly the same, maybe for a year, maybe for two, this whole climate change thing would be over more or less, right? So there’s a couple more variables there. That’s not true, but let’s assume this for a moment. But I feel the American way has always been, and that’s why I came to this country is this trial and error, this finding the best solution, but having a certain body that you can control that might be just a state or a city, and then you find out which works best, that seems to be under attack globally. Most people are actually going to the other side and say, no, we should actually make sure we all do the exact same thing at the exact same time for those specific reasons initially. But a lot of people would say, well, where does this end? Yeah, that’s a very interesting and difficult question. I would say our game B answer is what’s called a subsidiarity. And this is something we borrowed from the Catholic Church. And the idea of subsidiarity is that every issue should be dealt with at the lowest possible level that is appropriate for the solution of that problem. And I would say that our decision making is way too centralized in the world today. And I know it annoys my friends and some of them in the UK at least. If I’d been living in the UK, I would have voted for Brexit, that the dead hand of bureaucracy, stupid, slow decision making, process bound far away from what the people really want is not the right way to go. And I would say the United States also has too much centralized and too much at the state level. Much more should be pushed down to the community in question. However, notice the second part of the definition of subsidiarity, which is at the level appropriate for its solution. Something like climate change is the exemplar. We have to solve it together. And so that means that we need to find some way to have governance, if not government at the global level. And I think there’s some very clever emergent ways to do that. I had a guy on my podcast recently, John Bunzel, and his simple S.I.M.P.O.L. solution of how we can maintain, and another one, Anatole Levin was also on my podcast, who talks about how we can solve climate change while retaining the nation state and having no global government. Because my view on global government is I’m happy to have global government once we have five globes, but not before. Because I’m afraid that we fall into a bad attractor in one of them, how the hell we’re going to get out. We don’t have the advantage of East of West Germany being the example to East Germany, and what’s wrong with Marxist Leninism. So I believe that there are indeed a small number of global issues. And let’s take the pandemic. The COVID pandemic was interesting. If we’d done absolutely nothing about it, humanity would have gotten along just fine. More people would have died, but it would not have destroyed advanced civilization anywhere. It would have been a kick in the ass, but that’s about all it was. However, there are epidemics that could be civilization threatening. For instance, smallpox. Most people in the West and rapidly in the rest of the world are losing their vaccination immunity to smallpox. The Russians created a vast amount of weaponized smallpox as a potential biological warfare agent. How much of that was saved and continues to be nurtured, we don’t know. But we could have a smallpox epidemic brought the bear by terrorists, in which the right answer is indeed, and the only answer indeed, is for the world to lock down for 28 days. But Jim, see, this is where I got into the same discussion yesterday with the Anir. We had the same problems 100 years ago. There were smallpox. There was spread everywhere. Nobody even knew what it is. Nobody could even classify it as a disease. And we still made it as a population. We’re still here, right? And we’ve done pretty well. We have 9 billion people now. So I don’t know what the next iteration would be catastrophic to humanity. Yes, it would be bad, and certainly people would die of 100%. And we should do everything we can to avoid it. But we’re getting to this point where we say, and usually these viruses are very deadly, what happens is a lot of people die around. So the virus hits the limits of spread relatively quickly, different than COVID. Most people didn’t even notice they have it. So I really want to contain this. The question is, I think there’s kind of a dark place. There’s this dark place of we tell you what to do, and we tell you what to do right now. And if it doesn’t work, we keep telling you what to do for the next 10 years. And it’s really dark to be there. And I really, I’m Friedrich Hayek, I want to be like the least level of coercion. But the least that’s obviously open to definition. What is the least necessary level of coercion that we need? And I think this is really tricky, defining where we want to be. And I think that there’s a lot of dark, dark matter on that one side where people say, well, now we have this prime example with COVID. Here’s what we should have done. So with the next epidemic, let’s just get ready for a two year lockdown. And then, oh, it didn’t work. Let’s do a 20 year lockdown. At one point do we say, is this too much, right? Nobody worries about 28 day lockdowns. But we had two weeks to stop the spread, everyone signed up for it. And now we have a year, and we probably soon have two or three years. Well, not in the United States, it looks like we probably should reach herd immunity by August. You know, in California, these things never seem to happen. Yeah, California is pretty fucking incompetent. I hope they recall that clown you guys have as governors out there. Let’s hope so. Let’s hope so. I don’t know if this will happen. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, it’s an interesting and difficult question you ask, right? Which is, of course, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts, absolutely. And so the power to mandate lockdowns is a power like any other. And if we’re not careful, it’ll be abused. And it has been abused in various countries where first class science really didn’t, wasn’t applied. And people didn’t think widely enough out of the box on what to do. And because various approaches work, I mean, the Chinese model worked. It’s astounding how well that worked. The Vietnamese model worked. At another level, depending on what you value, the Swedish model worked, right? Which were radically different, but you have to have a different value proposition. And if you do, then the Swedish value is okay. And so I think it is you’re right, it’s a dark attractor, power is an attractor, and people will abuse power. And so how do we have the capability, the capacity to respond when necessary, but yet have it not be captured by people who just like power for power’s sake, or who are overly alarmist, et cetera. And I don’t have an answer for that one. I just acknowledge it’s a damn difficult problem. But one more thing. Yeah, I’m a video. It’s just, I was really surprised how willingly people were ready to cloudify themselves in basically just stopping any kind of social interaction. And that was in May or June when we realized COVID isn’t actually that bad. In March, it was a different story. I signed up for this too. But maybe we knew the data isn’t as bad as there’s not four or five percent death rate, right? It’s zero point zero two. And that really surprised me. And that I kind of, that shook my foundation a little bit because people run, we still hear, you know, in San Francisco, they’re all a hundred percent on the line of Gavin Newsom. They think this is real. They don’t think twice about that. They don’t want to hear any statistics. That’s not even a debate. So I’m worried that there’s something going on that drives people and attracts people to this dark place. And it’s, it’s, it’s a democratic decision. It’s kind of like we wrote in Hitler, like, you know, Germany had strange experience with their tries of democracy after the first world war and even after the second world war. Yep, it’s, it is true. There’s no guarantee that representative democracy will produce good results. And you said something that I believe is the key. Doesn’t want to hear the data. This is the plague of our modern era. And we now have it on both the right and the left. You know, we have the anti science, anti reality Trump world. And now we have the wokies. The wokies also are not open to data. You know, you can show them the data that shows that there is no excess number of black males being killed by the police. It’s almost exactly maps to the rate of crime, differential rate of crime committed by blacks and whites, almost exactly. It’s amazing. But you point that out to a wokie and they’ll come up with a million reasons why that, oh, they’re not willing to look at data. And so now we have two wings of our society that are living in a non reality based world. And that’s exceedingly dangerous, particularly when we’re talking about, you know, power to order everybody to stay home for X weeks. And goddamn, if I wish I knew the answer to get people to move back to the enlightenment view to empiricism, to data driven to science oriented decision making. And, you know, again, that’s all all in the game be ethos is that we got to be better at collective sense making than we are. There’s some there’s literally an epidemic of nonsense in our society. Now it used to be just on the right. Now it’s the right and the left. And this this is terrible. Well, we definitely have our work cut out for us, Jim. And we hopefully we find the solution or next couple of years. Thanks a lot for coming on the podcast. It was fantastic. Tremendously enjoyed it. I learned a lot. Yeah, I really enjoyed it to you. That’s some great questions. Someone’s that caused me thinking throughout some ideas I never heard like I’m going to really chew on this America with a billion people in an idea. Yeah, maybe you’ll find you’ll like it too. It sounds like my initial reaction was very negative, but I can see the attraction. But if you can send me a pointer or two to anybody who’s talking about that, I’d love it. And I might even invite them on my podcast to talk about it. I think Matthew Glazier was one of the people talking about that. Actually, subscribe to his sub stack. I’ll have to take a look. Alrighty, it’s been good. Jim, thanks for doing this. Thanks for taking the time. Alrighty, I hope you get to talk soon.