“You live in a deranged age — more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.” — Walker Percy
“Our species is 300,000 years old. For the first 290,000 years, we were foragers, subsisting in a way that’s still observable among the Bushmen of the Kalahari and the Sentinelese of the Andaman Islands. Even after Homo Sapiens embraced agriculture, progress was painfully slow. A person born in Sumer in 4,000BC would find the resources, work, and technology available in England at the time of the Norman Conquest or in the Aztec Empire at the time of Columbus quite familiar. Then, beginning in the 18th Century, many people’s standard of living skyrocketed. What brought about this dramatic improvement, and why?”
We are told that technology takes our jobs, reduces our wages, increases inequality, threatens our health, ruins the environment, degrades our society, corrupts our children, impairs our humanity, threatens our future, and is ever on the verge of ruining everything. We are told to be angry, bitter, and resentful about technology. We are told to be pessimistic. The myth of Prometheus – in various updated forms like Frankenstein, Oppenheimer, and Terminator – haunts our nightmares.
Technology is the glory of human ambition and achievement, the spearhead of progress, and the realization of our potential.
For hundreds of years, we properly glorified this – until recently.
Techno-Optimists believe that societies, like sharks, grow or die.
We believe not growing is stagnation, which leads to zero-sum thinking, internal fighting, degradation, collapse, and ultimately death.
There are only three sources of growth: population growth, natural resource utilization, and technology.
Developed societies are depopulating all over the world, across cultures – the total human population may already be shrinking.
And so the only perpetual source of growth is technology.
Economists measure technological progress as productivity growth: How much more we can produce each year with fewer inputs, fewer raw materials.
We believe this is why our descendents will live in the stars.
We believe that there is no material problem – whether created by nature or by technology – that cannot be solved with more technology.
We had a problem of starvation, so we invented the Green Revolution. We had a problem of darkness, so we invented electric lighting. We had a problem of cold, so we invented indoor heating. We had a problem of heat, so we invented air conditioning. We had a problem of isolation, so we invented the Internet. We had a problem of pandemics, so we invented vaccines. We have a problem of poverty, so we invent technology to create abundance. Give us a real world problem, and we can invent technology that will solve it.
We believe the market economy is a discovery machine, a form of intelligence – an exploratory, evolutionary, adaptive system.
We believe free markets are the most effective way to organize a technological economy.
We believe rich is better than poor, cheap is better than expensive, and abundant is better than scarce. We believe in making everyone rich, everything cheap, and everything abundant.
We believe that if we make both intelligence and energy “too cheap to meter”, the ultimate result will be that all physical goods become as cheap as pencils. Pencils are actually quite technologically complex and difficult to manufacture, and yet nobody gets mad if you borrow a pencil and fail to return it. We should make the same true of all physical goods.
We believe we should push to drop prices across the economy through the application of technology until as many prices are effectively zero as possible, driving income levels and quality of life into the stratosphere.
We believe our planet is dramatically underpopulated, compared to the population we could have with abundant intelligence, energy, and material goods. We believe the global population can quite easily expand to 50 billion people or more, and then far beyond that as we ultimately settle other planets.
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