Douglas Rushkoff is a professor of media theory and digital economics at Queens/CUNY. Named one of the world’s 10 most influential academics by MIT, he has been researching, celebrating and lamenting the advancement of technology since the early 1990s. He will handle it. Group of people He has produced a podcast and 20 books.
Below, Douglas shares 5 key insights from his new book; Survival of the Rich: Escaping the Nightmares of Tech Billionaires. Listen to the audio recording—read by Douglas himself—in the Next Big Idea app.
1. Don’t fall for The Mindset.
I gave a talk to small tech billionaires who wanted to know how to prepare for “the event” – a civilization-destroying crisis. They see such destruction as inevitable, but for a select few – survivable.
So instead of putting their energy into keeping the world from collapsing, they are looking for a way to escape the danger they themselves created. This is what I mean. thinking: The belief that with enough money and technology, rich people can live like gods and overcome the suffering that befalls everyone. It’s a way of applying the Silicon Valley startup’s “exit strategy” to its own civilization.
The mind is based on empirical science: reducing nature and complexity, the dominance of others, and extracting matter and energy from the real world and converting them into symbol systems like money. Digital technologies have expanded and broadened thinking, creating tech billionaires who believe they will lord it over us and then leave us behind as they migrate to the next phase of human existence.
What I discovered in my strange meeting with them is that the billionaires at the top of these imaginary pyramids are actively seeking the end game. In fact, as a It’s amazing Blockbuster, The Mindset is very structured He asks One last game. Everything must settle to one or zero, winner or loser, saved or damned. Disasters, from climate emergency to mass migration, support their myths and provide an excuse to live out their escapist fantasy.
2. Be careful of the insulation equation.
Epson says that there is an internal sponge in your printer that contains extra ink and that once it becomes saturated, it can cause an electronic fire. This is not true – and even if it is, the sponge can be replaced. The company wants to get us to buy more printers, even though we’re piling old ones into a mountain of toxic waste.
“Much of humanity and nature cannot be discarded like the first stage of a rocket ship.”
Human executives somehow believe in the faults of their own doing. But the only way they can do that is by getting rich and building bunkers, coastal communities, rocket ships or computer clouds that can host their brains. They quickly engage in reckless business practices to make enough money to survive the apocalypse. It looks like they are trying to build a fast car to escape their own fumes. They are doing what I call Insulation equationHow much money do I need to escape the risk that I am bringing by making money this way?
Unfortunately, True Danger doesn’t respect the parenting boundaries on their Oculus VR. Much of humanity and nature cannot be dropped like the first stage of a rocket ship. In the old days, if you lived in a bad neighborhood, you would try to earn enough money to move to a better place. But what if the world itself turns into a bad neighborhood? You can’t go far; You have to solve the problems.
3. See Meta as you go.
Tech billionaires have one thing in common: they run out of ideas, wealth, or status. Go meta. This is what Web 2.0 originally meant: Instead of competing with all the internet businesses, go meta on the industry and create a platform that includes all these businesses and their competition. What Peter Thiel means when he says “go from zero to one”—you’ll do “orders of magnitude” better than the competition. That’s why when Facebook’s user growth starts to decline, Mark Zuckerberg literally announces that he’s going meta, creating an as-yet-undefined virtual world that includes everything.
Going meta is a hallmark of the digital economy and mindset. The Industrial Age was all about linear growth. Industrialists were able to overcome the externalities of their businesses. Chartered monopolies colonize a territory, conquer the people, extract their wealth, and move on to the next territory. Businesses can thrive as long as there is more of the world to conquer. But in the end, they ran out of room.
The financial sector was the first to understand this. That’s why they developed abstract stocks to represent physical ownership, then derivatives, derivatives, credit default swaps, etc. that go meta on stocks. The derivatives market is so much bigger than the stock market that one derivatives exchange actually bought the NYSE in 2013. The stock exchange (which was already a stock market draft) was consumed by its own draft!
“People who are committed to meta-quotation often believe that it is okay to sacrifice real reality for these symbols.”
Digital technology allows us to go meta over physical reality. It is a sign system. A map, not the actual state. Although removed from reality, it is limitless, and a perfect landscape in which to try to balance money without limits. But because it’s not grounded in reality, those devoted to meta-quotation often believe it’s okay to sacrifice real reality for these symbols—burning the planet to demonstrate our trust in digital representations like bitcoin.
4. Wealth drives out compassion.
Research shows that billionaires don’t identify with the pain and feelings of others. Part of their head doesn’t light up when they see someone else in distress. You cannot read the emotional state of others. It’s like they’ve damaged their frontal lobes – they have brain damage.
This is possible because in their plan “winning” means leaving others behind. What they want is a superyacht—not just a superyacht, but a second superyacht—to set them apart from the rest of humanity. They have the technology to meet this need for isolation and perpetuate the cycle of isolation. As Timothy Leary commented when reading Stewart Brand’s book about MIT’s Media Lab, “These guys just want to recreate the womb with technology.
The technologies they build and use are informed by this anti-human, anti-emotional understanding. Thinking comes down to us—especially in times of crisis—and Amazon Video makes us receptive to doorbells, doordash deliveries, and zoom calls.
The more connected we are to magnification, the less self-conscious we become. On a zoom call, unlike in real life, we can’t see if someone’s pupils are getting bigger when they engage us, if their breathing rate is synchronizing with ours, or any of the other dramatically enhanced social cues we use to establish others. relationship. The mirror neurons in our brain don’t fire, the bonding hormone – oxytocin – doesn’t get released and we don’t feel connected. If anything, when the person agrees with us and we don’t get physiological confirmation, we become anxious and distrustful. We destroy our own emotional circuits.
5. Accepting the reality.
We should not succumb to the idea that the planet is doomed and only rich people will live. We can still do it. Don’t believe them. They are only afraid because their own business plan calls for the destruction of our world. The tools and platforms they are working on are amazing, but the real world is coming and the people who make these screens know that they are the only ones who are the cause. They think that our last good hope is to double down and implement more technocratically and comprehensive solutions to the world’s problems.
“We are in trouble only because the map has replaced the state. Virtual reality is more important than real reality.
It’s not the easy way come outBut go through. We can stop supporting their companies and the lifestyles they promote. We can work less, eat less, travel less – and make ourselves happier in the process. Buy local, participate in mutual aid and support cooperatives. Use monopoly law to break up anti-competitive behemoths, environmental regulation and organized labor to advance the rights of gig workers. Change tax policy so that people who earn passive capital gains on their wealth pay more for their income than those who actively earn it.
Everything on earth would be fine if we weren’t burdened with satisfying the needs of the sketchy map we’ve created for the benefit of the immorally rich to represent our world. We are not up against the limits of our physical reality, but the limits of our digital scales. We are in crisis only because the map has replaced the state. Virtual reality is more important than real reality. Rather than providing for our security, our financial and technological systems are now the greatest threats to our collective security.
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