The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show or Serge Faguet. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.
Jim: Today’s guest is Serge Faguet, an American Russian Ukrainian serial entrepreneur and self-describe transhumanist and crypto maximalist.
Serge: Thank you. Thank you, Jim. I have been a listener to the Jim Rutt podcast since I think episode two with Robin Hansen, which I randomly found on Apple Podcasts. And Jim is not putting me up to say this, but it’s been one of the top sources of just learning about systemic thinking and all of these things. So, thank you Jim, for putting this together and the way you like saying. I think share it and give it ratings because the more people listen to this kind of stuff, the more allies we will have in building a good future for humanity.
Jim: Wow. I love that. Thanks, a whole bunch. That’s good. I’m glad it’s getting out there into the world and having in effect, that’s why I do it. We’re going to have a great conversation today. We’ve been chatting what for, I don’t know, a year? A year and a half, something like that.
Serge: Couple years. Yeah.
Jim: Couple years, you’re off channel. And it’s always just so damn interesting. And we decided that we are going to focus it a little bit and do it in public. So, today we’re going to talk more or less about Serge’s ideas about emerging transnational networks of cooperation for humanity. And he’ll fill in the details quite a bit. So, take it away.
Serge: All right. So, I’ll start with the Fermi paradox, which Jim likes talking about on the show. And I think that where we are as humanity is this point when our technological capabilities are exponentially increasing and at the same time our ability to cooperate and our ethics and a lot of other things are just not good enough and not increasing as fast, not changing as fast. And it feels like that is a candidate to be a great filter that prevents a lot of civilizations from appearing in the universe because they basically implode. And so, I was having a conversation with Eric Drexler, who you should also have on the podcast. He’s the founding father of nanotechnology, a really brilliant thinker about AI and a lot of the trends there. And he’s essentially saying, “Well, we’re going to be getting to something close to human level AI potentially as soon as five years from now.”
And the consensus is really moving earlier and earlier in the AI researcher community. We’re not talking about AGI, but we are talking about something that certainly puts salespeople or marketing people or doctors and lots of other people out of work. And that is the kind of thing that is going to cause a lot more chaos in society because society has already been plenty chaotic for the last five or six years and it’s going to increase further. And this is really dangerous. This is why we’re having these things where people are discussing nuclear war or an explosion in genetically engineered viruses or all kinds of other things that are real risks for humanity, because we haven’t updated our cultural and social and ethical code. And there are a number of people, I think that the community of Game B or really a lot of other ways that we could call these communities, these communities are appearing around the world where people want to work on governments or on longevity or on all kinds of other things on privacy, et cetera, rapidly appearing.
So, there seems to be a lot of demand from the world to actually make change happen. But we are not really united across the world across all of these different communities, even though we have a shared set of values and beliefs. As Jim mentioned, I’ve been a technology entrepreneur for a number of years and I’m at this point where I’m financially successful and at the same time figured out a lot of my own psychological issues along the way. And I’ve really… I’m decided to jump in on this full time to figure out how we can have a good singularity because this is something I’ve been thinking about ever since I was reading science fiction as a kid. How do we have a good singularity? And I used to think that the way to do that is be Elon Musk, so start your own company and make it really successful and build some core set of technologies.
And recently, I realized in part through listening to this podcast and in part through seeing a lot of other similar signals from around the world, that what we need to do is really not start a company but start a movement. Or rather the movement is already started but unite that movement around a core set of ethical beliefs and unite us and get us to corporate, get people to help each other and understand each other even if they’re focusing on different things. Like someone could be focusing on longevity, someone could be focusing on artificial intelligence, but if we share a central core of ethics, we should be working together. We should be helping each other find resources, find new collaborators. And really, that’s what I’m thinking about the most. That’s what I want to jump in on a full time.
Jim: Yeah. It sounds very timely, shall we say. Because as you say, there are many, many groups of people working on lots of things and most of them don’t even know the others exist. And so, in our pre-game you talked about the idea of metacommunities, the idea that there are many groups out there working on different things with different approaches and even different concepts of the good, which is all right, right.
So, long as we say in the Game B world establish what we like to call coherent pluralism, which is a small core of inviolate ethics that anyone that wants to be building this new world needs to adhere to while at the same time leaving lots of room for people to find their own way to live the good life. And so, many reformers to my mind, most of them ended up as nightmares. Let’s be honest, right? I’m sure Lennon actually thought he was doing good, probably Hitler too, even Pol Pot, right? But they all thought that there’s one way people should live. And that to me is the core. It’s not the root of all evil, but it’s certainly a big piece of it.
Serge: It’s a root of evil.
Jim: Yes. One of the roots of serious evil. So, the idea of metacommunities where people can find their own way and we’ll talk a little bit about people and transhuman as well. So with that, take it away. Let’s go back to it.
Serge: Sure. So, the current mental model that I have is to build something like a biology and network state. So, a decentralized system connecting across many different communities around the world. So, like a metacommunity or metacommunity network state, where we can have conversations around these core values, like what you were saying, coherent pluralism is a good name for it. And essentially, align on that, we trust and respect each other to trust and respect each other. That has to be at the core of the whole thing. So, for example, I think that I personally, I’m very interested in what happens after the singularity. And I would at some point no longer want to be a human. I would want to be some entity that’s living in a larger body with larger processing capabilities and just exploring the universe or in exploring my own consciousness. And I think that we should be open to people essentially going into such a state, but at the same time really respect the rights of other people not to do it and respect the rights of people to move between these states.
And that’s really like at the core, I think of a metacommunity network state that we have to be thinking in terms of respect for each other’s passions and pursuits as long as we agree to in inviable core of ethics. And even that core has to evolve over time because nothing is forever. For example, I think that the founding of the United States, when the founding fathers got together and synthesized something really powerful, it was a tremendous breakthrough in the history of humanity. But 250 years later or so, it’s out of date. A lot of stuff is just not… You couldn’t expect the changes in technology that have happened since then. So, we have to update, but we can’t update it at the level of the United States because there’s just a lot of entrenched vested interests that have captured the institutions by now. The only real way for us to do things is to do them from scratch or to find another layer, another dimension on which to create it.
Obviously, you could start a sovereign physical country and work towards that. And I think that can and should be part of this metacommunity network state because it’s really important to have physical presence. It’s really important to do experiments in governments. But at the same time, we have to exist on a transnational level. And you could call it, I don’t know, there’s this good book I’ve read called The Ministry for the Future, where the concept was that you had this ministry founded by a bunch of governments that is managing the climate crisis on a global level. I think it’s that except it’s not founded by a bunch of governments, it’s going to be founded by us, by this transnational community of communities. And really some of this comes down to that. We have to take responsibility for the world that we live in. We have to make a decision. What do we want the world to be like? And then actually go and make that happen ourselves because no one’s going to do it if we don’t do it. So, we have to go and make it happen.
Jim: Yeah, that last one I always say is the gateway to our thinking, right. And most people unfortunately, because they’ve been conditioned by their education, by their media, by their neighbors, et cetera, somehow think that our institutions, our structures, our economy, our politics all somehow came down from Mount Sinai with Moses on stone tablets, when in reality every one of them was a contingent, and often accidental decision that was locked in sometime in the past. And it’s continued to clank on. For instance, listeners know that I’m quite fascinated with monetary systems. Our current monetary system didn’t come into being until 1913, right. Relatively recently and yet we act as if money, the kind of money that circulates is some real thing when it actually, it’s merely one of many possible coordination signaling systems that we can as humans say, “This one isn’t working for us, let’s try something else.” As you talked about the American governance.
Well, the constitution, totally no surprise that in 1781, 81, 82, 83, 84, when the constitution was being worked on, we were in the very beginning of the great exponential, but we were very early just up a bit. And it’s no surprise that a set of governance modalities created in the 1780s would be completely at sea in the 2020s, where the rate of exponential were way up past the elbow. We’re in the really fast-moving part of it, which be completely outdone. It’s like the difference between racing a horse with a Ferrari that’s kind of a horse trying to catch a Ferrari, it’s just not going to happen, right. And so, that’s where we are and we need to rethink these institutions. And also, because of the inertia in the systems and the vested interests as you point out, and also the interlocking deep weave of the status quo.
Because the status quo is woven from money, from media, from culture, from public school education, all kinds of things. Weave together is very strong memeplex in multiple dimensions and trying to break that in the short-term is going to be impossible. Now, I do believe we can flip it in the long term, like two generations, 50 years, something like that. But we can’t start there. And so, this idea of a network of metacommunities that are working together to address these things seems to me like a reasonable way to start. And then one last thing before I go back to you is you mentioned climate change. I think it’s also important to note that climate change is just one of many aspects of the meta crisis. And I will say it’s the one that will bite our ass if we don’t fix it, eventually. But there are other ones that might get us well before that.
Serge: That’s right. On the subject of climate change, it’s a fascinating area, because we have to take a more reasonable approach to it than the extreme approaches of like, “Oh, let’s go back to the stone age kind of stuff when the earth tolerated us and all that.” Because no, the way out is through, we have to go and use the abilities of our technological civilization to actually build the future and rejuvenate the world and to live more in harmony with nature, not by pausing on technological progress and on social progress, but by accelerating it.
Jim: I don’t know about, I mean accelerating. Yes. Because I’m absolutely with you. We’re not going to become hippies in mud huts. That would be just stupid. And it would also squander humanity’s mission, whatever that is. I’ll lay this one out there. And this is probably sort of compatible with your mission for the Fermi paradox. I believe that humanity has a fork in the near future. And it’s around the Fermi paradox. If we let’s say in two or 300 years conclude that we are alone in the galaxy, which I now believe is possible. When I was a 14-year-old nerd reading my science fiction books, oh there’s got to be tens of thousands of civilizations out there, some naive solution to the Drake equation. But now, I’ve really thought deeply about things like how did prokaryotic cell come about? Right. How did the particular form of multicellularity that happened in the Cambrian explosion come about?
How did the evolution of neurons come about? How probable were those? And if you put conservative numbers on each of those steps, you go shit, it is possible we’re alone. And if we’re alone, the burden on us to not blow it is huge, right. Because I would suggest if we’re alone, our destiny I would argue is to bring the universe to life. It’ll take hundreds of millions to billions to bring the galaxy to life. And that’s assuming no magic, faster than the light. But if you can move at 10th of speed of light, you can actually bring the galaxy to life in 10 million years, amazingly enough, which is not very long near humans existed 6 million years ago. But the other side of the fork, it’s always important to keep this fork in mind is let’s say we’re not alone. The other interpretations of the Fermi paradox is that we’re not alone, but for lots of different possible reasons, we just haven’t been able to detect them.
Either they’re hiding or they’re, let’s say they’re speaking in ways we can’t see point to point lasers, or they’ve all retreated to the borg on their home planet and they’re jerking each other off in cyberspace for whatever reason we don’t know they’re there. But in a few hundred years, or at most 10,000 years, we ought to be able to figure that out. And if we do find that there is a galactic civilization that’s going on, then our destiny is to join the galactic civilization. And in the meantime, it strikes me that we have to assume that we’re alone. Call that the precautionary principle. Because if we blow this the first advanced life in the universe, which we might be to blow that would be just the most ridiculous lost opportunity ever. And so, that’s the rutty inversion of the mission for humanity up to that fork.
And then we’ll have to redefine the details whether on which side of the fork it is, join galactic civilization or bring the universe to life. And I would say life broadly construed to mean our post life as well. A number of people argue that biological life will never be suitable for interstellar travel. I think they’re wrong actually about that. But our silicon descendants or our gallium arsenide descendants could be well designed to go out into the universe and do their thing. And I suspect actually it would be a combination of the two. So, with that back to you.
Serge: Actually. So, my view on this is exactly the same and part of it is just also my own curiosity and desire to personally live until the end of time in this universe and explore it and all that. And I think that we are living in a moment in time when that is actually possible and there’s a decent chance that it happens during our lifetimes. And that is just amazing, because we are at this juncture where we could go one of, I think three broad ways. One is we could go extinct. So, it’s possible that we do not manage to deal with the challenges that our own technological capabilities actually cause, because we haven’t upgraded our ethical and cultural and social code. Another really bad direction is if it goes in the direction of a totalitarian techno dictatorship, which is something that it feels like a lot of the governments around the world are starting to go in that direction.
So, that’s a huge risk. And then, the third possibility is this great flourishing where we can, as you said, bring the universe to life and solve the secrets of longevity and solve all diseases and figure out what happiness means to us and really spread throughout the universe. And I think that that is just so fucking cool. There’s nothing else that is quite as interesting as that sort of vision. And we are at this point where it might happen soon, or it might end up in some dystopia where our destruction. So, it feels like this… The reason I am jumping into working on this full time and dedicating all of my time and resources and network and persuading other people to do this is that this is existential, this is in point in time. The last few years are actually showing us that things are accelerating because I think that all of the unrest and upheaval in society and with humans in the past few years, that has some set of causes, common causes that partly have to do with acceleration of the pace of technology, especially things like social media.
And partly, it has to do with other issues in society like defects with money and the rate of return that forces you to very, very, very short-term thinking and many other things like that. And essentially, I am quite convinced that we are at this point where we are defining the future of humanity in really the coming small number of years and defining where amongst these three possibilities we are going to go. And so, now is the time to really focus on this and to figure out what we can do together to increase the chances of a successful transition into the next phase. And what I find really cool about this idea of a metacommunity network state is, it’s quite decentralized and it just feels like people are much more passionate and really able to go and deliver interesting results on things they’re passionate about when they are doing this as part of a movement and some community and not being recruited into some company and given a job description and a KPI.
So, it’s something I’m seeing happen around myself all the time. Yesterday I was having a call with someone who was like, “Oh, I love this. I want to help recruit the best brightest college students from across US campuses and kind of sell them on a lot of these ideas and try to get them to join into this kind of a community.” So, that’s cool. Someone is thinking about how we recruit people. I have another friend who is interested in starting conferences around this. I have another friend who’s interested in starting a movement to get people to migrate into one location, people who care about longevity, which is his personal passion and essentially influence local electoral politics to help fund longevity research and to help longevity get more traction.
I have another friend who has built his own city in Bali, which is really funny. He found a way to get some level of local political autonomy by piggybacking on traditional village elders councils, which apparently in Indonesia have a lot of local political rights because we used to have the village elders get together and they can tell the government to not interfere in their affairs and apply some local taxes and things like that.
And so, they have used that even though none of them are really even from Bali, right. So, it’s a community of technology entrepreneurs from all over the world. So, they’re thinking of like, “Okay, we can create a local community that has some level of political autonomy by piggybacking on this.” So, it just feels like all over the world there’s a lot of people who are feeling the same things, feeling some level of just dissatisfaction and the sense that something is wrong. We know that something is wrong with our society and with our institutions and some people just seem to be taking responsibility for this and actually going and making change.
And I agree with you, Jim, about what you said about our institutions, the fact that they are contingent and they are meant to evolve and change and transform. And I think the other thing frankly is that when you purely rely, when you take the world as given, when you rely on existing institutions without thinking about how to transform them, I think it’s just a infantile and immature view, because that’s like the little child that is saying, “Well, the parents know best, they figured it all out and I’m just along for the ride.” And it is the mature adult that says, “This is the way I want the world to be and I am going to work on making it be that way and I am going to live with the consequences and understand what the consequences of my decisions are.”
So, I think that that’s really one of the most important things that are happening in the world right now, and that this is the way that we get to a good future where we colonize the galaxy rather than have some crazy totalitarian dictatorship or destroy ourselves. This is the time.
Jim: Absolutely. I love that the adult perspective. And it looks like if you look at the pulses of history, seems like a lot of times people just follow their nose through life, but every once in a while, there are these incredible times when people see that something needs to go to the next level. And probably the previous one at the same level was the enlightenment from the middle of the 18th century to say 1800 where amazingly people overthrew, millennia, superstition divine rights of kings, feudalism, all that just in a very short period of time. And by the way, they also started the technological revolution, the financial revolution, and the democratic revolution, because they somehow were able to reach that perspective, that adult perspective. But then, we’ve been working through the implications of that for the last 220 years and now it’s time for a re-enlightenment to step up to probably shouldn’t even say re, because it’s not going to be doing the same thing again.
It’s going to be doing something different. But stepping up and saying we own this, right? We own this and let’s start with the givens, human nature, technological reality, all the things we’ve learned from the last 270 years I guess more realistically, and what do we do next? And it does feel to me like this is one of those moments, and I talk to lots of people about this all the time and I’ve definitely sensed 10 times as many people willing to listen and engage on these issues in the last two years. And COVID I think opened up a bunch of people’s thinking that status quo is not going to get us there. I’m with you, this is the time we got to get organized people,
Serge: That’s right. And the cool thing is also that this organization is quite decentralized. So, every one of the listeners can think about what can I do to really join the movement? And it’s not like we have a particular party card that you have to get. You can just start doing things someone should think about, how do we improve the mental health of humanity? I think that’s one of the key issues is a society where everyone is getting mental health and counseling and development is going to be healthier than a society where that is not happening, and people are dealing with their trauma and psychological issues by themselves. And frankly, I think this is one of the major opportunities of the next few years is to develop things like psychotherapy and education and ethical, almost coaching for many different groups by using AI and large language models because GPT-3 is already pretty decent at giving answers that seem reasonable from a psychotherapy perspective.
And because these models are really trained on the corpus of what people say and what different groups say, I don’t think they’re necessarily going to be that good at creating original research beyond what was in the learning data set and truly be general in that way. But I think they’re going to be quite good at sales and marketing and frankly if the right values is something that they are educating people about and selling and selling to different groups. Because for some people may be the keyway to talk about values and ethics is around God. Whereas for some it can be in terms of science. And for me actually it’s in terms of both, because I feel like if God exists and I think that that is possible in one way, shape or form or another, then God would want us to discover the secrets of nature because that is the laws of the universe that we are finding ourselves in.
And essentially that could be a persuasive argument for people who have a more religious background and something completely different could be relevant for people in China who think much more in terms of tradition and respect for tradition from beyond, but also encouragement from the previous generations to the next generations. So, we essentially have to find a way to reach as many people as we can and unite around a common core set of ethics. And there’s so many things that have to be done for that, from media to technology to just thinking about tools for communities. I actually think, so if someone is quite entrepreneurially inclined and wants to build essentially tools that are going to become very successful technology companies over the next few years build tools for communities that is a new kind of entity that has its own requirements.
So, for example, just a tool to gather membership dues, that’s interesting. A tool for essentially some identity so that when I show up in San Francisco, I am told like here’s the 20 communities with relevant interests to you and you can come and stay at this co-living, if you give a talk about singularity ethics or whatever I am known for. So I’m also, like Jim mentioned, I am Russian and Ukrainian and I’ve seen the exodus of people from Russia and Ukraine over the past year. And so, a ton of people have suddenly spread around the world and started forming these communities everywhere. And everyone’s constantly traveling, so people start building telegram bots to see who is where, when, et cetera. So, this is an entire stack of software and tooling that is going to be very useful for all of these communities and they have a unique set of requirements. So, that’s like something to work on because it’s both make money and it will enable more such communities to be started and to build this metacommunity network state.
Jim: Yep. And a huge opportunity. And there’s nothing like that really out there, at least with that focus. So, hey, entrepreneurs get on it. Right. That’s great.
Let me also talk about what you spoke about earlier here in that rift, which is the need for things like therapy and counseling and coaching, et cetera. I would argue yes, but the need for those things have increased exponentially over the last in my lifetime, 30 years or so. And I believe that that’s a signal that we are seriously off track and that our society is literally driving people insane. When I was a lad says the old boomer say in 1975 or 1980 when I was, well, I was 27 and say in 1980, the epidemic of anxiety and depression that was very fringe. That was a couple of percent of people who had serious issues, a lot of them probably biochemical.
Today, it seems like 40% of people are suffering from psychological issues. And I’d argue many of those, most of those are caused by the insanity of our society that it is not focused on human wellbeing at all. It’s maniacally focused on exponential growth of financialized capitalism essentially with no concern at all about human wellbeing. And in fact, the latest, and to my mind one of the worst manifestations is this thing called TikTok, right. As a person who’s been designing or managing online products for 41 years, which is quite a thought, soon as I looked at TikTok, I go, holy shit, this is the best design thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And the most evil, right. This is-
Serge: Digital fentanyl.
Jim: That’s exactly what I call it, digital fentanyl. And literally people should be marching to the headquarters of TikTok going in, pulling the executives out and guillotining them on the street and then burn the fucking building down. Right.
Metaphorically only people don’t actually do that. But if you’re an adult with kids, make sure they don’t have TikTok on their thing. TikTok is the inevitable application of our understanding of human nature, relatively advanced machine learning. But as you point out a long way from AGI turn to pure monetization with no consideration of virtue ethics at all, this is an example of what should not exist but is inevitable that it would exist. And further, it’s just the beginning. It’ll get worse if we’re not smart about the ethical considerations and essentially the bounding of technology. We don’t want to stop technology because there’s still so many things technology can give us. Wouldn’t it be great if we had an energy source that was essentially unlimited and not producing hydrocarbons that’s probably within our grass. I actually used to be a scoffer at it, but a madman VC, I happen to know, and he is proud to be labeled madman, by the way, has convinced me that even things like orbital solar collectors may now actually be feasible or close to feasible and fusion.
Yeah, it’s always 20 years in the future, but I suspect one day we’ll figure it out and there may be some others, deep rock, hot rock geothermals, a gigantic possibility. But anyway, we don’t want to stop the movement of technology, but we need to have each step, particularly in its application under the guidance of what people like Daniel Schmachtenberger call omni consideration. Is TikTok something some people want? Yes. Check. Is it good for those people? Mostly no. Is it good for the community? Definitely not. Is it good for humanity? No, no, no, no. Is it good for the earth? No, because it incites consumerism and rewards consumerism and all kinds of bad things. So, if you looked at TikTok from an omni considerate perspective, no sane person would say yes, let’s do TikTok. But if you look at TikTok from the perspective of the collapse signal, and this is one of the worst things about late stage Game A, is that everything has been collapsed to the money signal.
Is it profitable and is it arguably legal? Those are the only standards that apply. And of course, as we recently seen with things like SPF, even the arguably legal part has now been thrown out the window, is it profitable when that’s the only signal that our creativity responds to? You get things like TikTok and the SPF scandal instead. And you were alluding to this, I think indirectly that a return, and this is the way society used to be, a return to focus on human wellbeing, can get us out of a lot of these traps instead of exponential GDP growth as the measure of all things good, are we living a more happy and sane life in our somewhere Game B work, we’ve sketched out that Americans can probably cut our material and energetic resources by a factor of three until we do get those more advanced technologies for energy.
And yet at the same time increase our human wellbeing and keep our technological search going. But not if we’re driven by the single monetary signal. Signal monetary single will never go on that trajectory. So new institutions, new signaling modalities are going to be necessary and the current nation states are too captured by at this point by late stage financialized capitalism. So, we’re going to have to build these outside of the nation state and then come in from the bottom and flip the nation state over some period of time.
Serge: Yeah. That’s right. The other thing I wanted to mention connected to what you were saying about TikTok is also, I think as pernicious is mainstream media. The fact that they have this business model where they’re optimizing to shock, to threaten, to essentially create anxiety in people because that is what generates clicks plus to be divisive because they’re trying to each create their own niche audience. And the best way for them to do that seems to be to ponder to relatively extreme views. And a lot of that, that is happening on the pages of the New York Times for sure, and a lot of other mainstream media is taking their cue from that. And that’s a constant signaling to all of society that things are bad, things are scary, other people are out to get you, the evil technology billionaires or something like that. Personally, I’ve met very few people who are actually, actually evil.
And mostly, it’s about incentives. It’s about incentives and that’s what really causes TikTok, which is a Chinese company called ByteDance, which is worth $300 billion or something like that by producing this product, which is actually a net negative for society. I completely agree with you also about the aspects of financial capitalism and the especially fascinating thing here is that we are on the cusp of tremendous technological abundance. This is again, something I’ve really picked up a lot about from Eric Drexler with his thinking about molecular nanotechnology. Obviously, lots of challenges with it. I’ve really dug into it for a few years. For a few years I was trying to start a molecular nanotechnology company and I was essentially looking for an early application. We were thinking about designing atomically precise protein sensors of a particular kind that when integrated with a neural network plus a lot of variability in the sensors could generate signal that then could be deconvoluted to figure out essentially a fingerprint for anyone’s blood.
I couldn’t make it work. It was complicated for various reasons. But I do think that we are going to very soon get to a point where money is going to be quite irrelevant just because we are going to have much more resources and much more productive capabilities from an industrial perspective and from an energy perspective. And really in all of these cases is just up to our own creativity and up to our own ability to design incentives to create new technologies and to deploy them in the right way, in the way that’s aligned with the rest of society. And money’s not going to be very meaningful. I mean I have friends who are… This is entirely shocking to me because these smart people, someone who’s a billionaire and who’s saying like, “Oh, yeah, my main objective is to grow my wealth, so that I can give it to my kids in 20 years.”
I’m like, “What? What the fuck? First of all, whether you have a billion dollars or a billion and a half or two or whatever, that’s not really something that will really transform the lives of your kids. And secondly, 20 years from now, I mean this is just connected to our human inability to think in exponential terms. So, many people are just expecting that the future is going to be more of the same except I guess we’re going to have iPhone 30 plus as opposed to whatever we have now. But actually, the future is going to be very different and betting on capitalism continuing in the way that it is continuing right now, seems misguided because it seems like it’s going out of whack and it will either end up in our destruction or it will end up in radical abundance the way that Eric Drexler describes it, radical abundance where money is going to have no meaning, because we are going to be in some post-scarcity society where we’re mostly going to be trying to pursue whatever we’re passionate about.
And we talked about this in the pre-game, have essentially multiple dimensions on status where every person is finding some way to be interesting to other people, because we are social beings and even if we end up being some kind of post-singularity, post-human, godlike entities that are traveling the galaxy or exploring cyberspace, we are still going to want to be with other beings. We will want to have a society because it’s just going to be really fucking boring if there are no other people to really live with and to have fun with and to have sex with and develop new modalities for crazy experiences plus figure out how the universe works. So, we have to be thinking already because the way that we organize our society right now and the way we’re thinking right now is going to have an impact on how, because this is the seed function out of which much of the future is going to grow.
Jim: And that’s again the same point that we are at this inflection point where people need to stand up and say, “We’re going to take ownership of what comes next.” And yeah, it’s very, very interesting. Yeah, it’s interesting we talk about post singularity, but the other one that we’re approaching but we’re not there yet. And that’s what makes this such an interesting epoch is the post-scarcity epoch, right. And whether post-scarcity happens before the singularity, after the singularity, I’m not sure. We’re going to have to manage this transition, that’s essentially the challenge for this next period.
How do we get through this century without ending ourselves? And we’re not actually, we probably don’t end human life, but what we could easily accidentally do is collapse the high stack right of a complex society back down to hunters and gatherers, a couple of million people on the earth and maybe a little bit more than that as they rummage through the refuge the wreckage, probably support 5 million picking through the wreckage for a while. That would be a huge shame. And instead, how do we hold things together until we approach post-scarcity? And I would suggest on the other side, one of the keyways we need to do that is a culture flip, so that we don’t feel like we have to consume so much. Right?
And America at a third of the current level of energetic input, let’s say go from 11,000 watts continuous power society and where we’re at today where we’re burning about 11,000 watts continuously, both in what we use and the products we consume. Now to say a 4,000 watts society, which by the way is more than many, many countries in the world, right. It’s on par with Argentina. It’s the perfectly nice place to live. And with good, better design and better thinking, a 4,000 watts society would be great and give us the base to do all the things we want to do and yet give us a greater probability of surviving to the transition of post-abundance technology.
I followed Drexler’s work since he published that first book. I read it a month after it was published. And that is a promising approach to post-abundance. On the other hand, the progress has been way slower than he thought it was going to be. I didn’t ever talk to him, but I talked to his wife at the time and other people around him, there was a circle of people around him and they were all thinking the AGI crown, it’s going to happen in five years.
They thought the molecular machines would be there in 10 years, self-replicating molecular machines. And they aren’t there yet, but they may be there in the future. I think maybe we can think about this current instant as how do we manage the transition to post-scarcity and then how do we manage the transition potentially at least, which we’ll talk about it. Oh, by the way, we’re going to talk about this in another episode. We’re going to go really deep into singularity and post-singularity, but to get past the singularity into a survivable and wonderful future for humanity. Because that’s like it’s so important. The future can be wonderful, but it can also be a fucking nightmare.
Serge: Yeah. That’s exactly right. And this is really the other major aspect of what I’m dedicating my time to. And one is really this metacommunity network state that we have discussed. And the other one is… I’m calling it post-singularity ethics, which is really… The way I define it is a set of moral, cultural, social and religious views that in very practical ways lead humanity to post-scarcity techno utopian civilization in which each one of us reaches our full potential without infringing on the rights of others to do so as well.
That’s really, I guess we will dig into that in a next episode because it’s a whole separate conversation of how do you understand what is the core of this that we have to think about and it causes such interesting questions. For example, do we think about artificial intelligence as sentient at some point?
I would argue we have to. The question is where that point is exactly, but at some point, we do have to that. So, we have to think about all the things that are causing problems in our current society. Certainly, the pursuit of money and these toxic status games that are happening across society. That’s one of them. The desire to cover your ass by public officials and the… I mean, just the fact that ever since that thalidomide episode, the Food and Drug Administration, I would argue have been killing a ridiculous number of people by making it much more difficult to bring new treatments to market. There’s essentially a exponential, so like an anti Moore’s law in how expensive it is to bring new drugs to market and it’s growing exponentially. And this is absolutely shocking to me because I have an AI drug discovery company, I co-founded to essentially do multiomic analysis of metabolic disease causal factors.
So, essentially to identify clusters of different people who can be treated with one particular treatment or another particular treatment. And there’s been a tremendous progress in the amount of data and machine learning models and just computational capabilities and understanding of the fundamental theory of molecular biology and how proteomics works and how genomics works and all of that. And yet at the same time as we’re getting this ridiculous progress in capabilities because the cost of doing full genome DNA sequencing that’s been falling at faster rates than Moore’s law. But at the same time the cost to bring a drug to market has been exponentially increasing. And I would argue that the main issue is really the regulators and the fact that they are captured by existing interests or really symbiotically created a huge industry together with the big pharma companies where a ton of money is being spent on, I’m not really actually sure what, I guess on pushing paper around and on doing quite excessive regulatory compliance.
And that’s the case just because… I mean, no one is going to get fired from the regulator or from the pharma company if a drug does not come to market and does not save a large number of lives. But people can get fired if one person dies from something and the mainstream media starts going with a narrative of evil corporate interests that killed this person. And it’s just a huge bug in our society that is preventing very significant progress. And it’s sad. It’s disappointing. When I was growing up as a little kid reading about sci-fi and about how awesome the future is going to be, or when you watch kind of Star Trek and a lot of the original TV shows from that era, you see this optimism for the future and for how much we could do and for how good humanity can become.
And the actual results are just disappointing. It’s just sad. So, we have to, again, I think what Jim and I are saying this whole podcast is like we have to do something. It’s time to act. It’s time to go and take responsibility for fixing what is going on and not just relying on the existing social institutions. And we have to be smart about it. We can’t go at it head on down with the states like anarchy stuff that does not work because the state is quite powerful. We have to reform by playing a different game. You always have to be playing an entirely different game. And this is where I really like the whole Game B approach. I think that a metacommunity network state of this kind would create a lot of economic value and we have to figure out some way to get that value reinvested into that network state itself rather than essentially be siphoned off by the existing state into an incredibly inefficient taxation system.
Because I think actually think people would pay taxes pretty high taxes if they could see this tree in front of my house was planted with these taxes. There’s an awesome educational system for my children that is being paid for with these taxes and it’s evolving rapidly, it’s highly digitalized and all that. Or yeah, we’re getting proper preventative medicine, et cetera. And it’s actually would not be difficult to outperform existing nation state performance on the same or a much smaller amount of taxes just because so much less of it would be wasted and much more of it would go to highly productive well thought out pursuits.
One thing that also I’m hoping that we will be able to do as part of this metacommunity and a lot of people are already working on this, is to create some good examples of good governments by getting to essentially something like charter cities of the kind that Pottery Friedman and Co are talking about that goes to real sovereignty. And that then shows this as an example to the rest of the world. I remember Reagan had this phrase about America being the “Shining city on a hill.” And I really like that particular phrase, but unfortunately America is not in that spot anymore and we have to create a new shining city upon a hill. And that’s like one of the many, many things that could be done to advance the Game B movement or this metacommunity network state or whatever we want to call it really.
Jim: All right. I think we’re going to wrap it up right there. I think we had a very good conversation and as we discussed earlier. Serge and I are going to get back together again pretty soon and take this conversation out into the wild blue yonder around post-singularity ethics. Any final thoughts before we wrap up?
Serge: I think just everyone is able to actually do something to advance the overall vision of a better tomorrow. And now, is the time because it really, really is an existential issue where again, we could go into a horrible future or destroy ourselves or we could go into this amazing future where all of us could see the stars and see how the universe works and things like that. And it’s time to really be intelligent and also to really unite across many communities, unite across the world, and essentially have a movement of people that are causing these things to change.
And I guess the last thing is, if you want to message me, you can message me on Serge Faguet at Gmail, or on serge_faguet on Telegram, which is where I am. And most of all right now, I’m looking for someone who could help with community management and with designing engaging technological ways for getting a lot of people to talk to each other because I’m talking with a ton of people about this who are looking at the problem from an enormous number of ways.
And what I like to happen is for them to be talking to each other and not like going through me as some kind of a hub, because that’s just going to scale much, much better. And that’s really how we turn it into a community. So, if you are interested in spending a bunch of time and dedicating yourself to thinking about how to build a highly engaged community for this metacommunity network state, then please reach out to me. And also, if you have any other ideas or anything else, please bing me. I’d love to hear from you.
Jim: Ah, that’s great. Yeah, go out and reach out Serge Faguet as you heard, a brilliant thinker and ready to jump in and help change the world. Thank you for our wonderful conversation and we’ll be back for part two in the not too distant future.
Serge: Thank you, Jim. Looking forward to it very much.