245: Hacking Reality with Rony Abovitz
August 11th, 2021 · 1 hr 20 mins
About this Episode
03:03 - Rony’s Superpower: Being a Space Cadet: Free-Willing Imagination, Insight, and Intuition
06:54 - Becoming Interested in Technology
- Science + Art
- Star Wars
- Solar Power
10:30 - Unstructured Play and Maintaining a Sense of Wonder and Free-Spiritedness
15:15 - Power Structures and Hierarchies
- Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- Order vs. Disorder
- Greater Than Code Episode 125: Everything is Communication with Sam Aaron
35:04 - Using Technology to Decentralize Social Structures: Is it possible?
- Hacking Reality
- Enlightenment and Transcendence
- Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis by Stanislav Grof
01:05:19 - The Game of Capitalism
- What It Means To Win; Mimicking Desires
- Reorienting Around Joy, Creation, Learning, and Experiences
- Self-Actualization & Community
01:09:39 - Are We Technology?
- Survival of the Fittest
Tim: We as a global community, need to bring our drums to the drum circle.
Chanté: How do we build decentralized guilds?
Arty: 1) Breaking out of nets and creating opportunities to innovate, invent, rethink, and enable new things to happen. 2) How do we create more entrepreneurship and enable more entrepreneurial innovation to happen?
Rony: Empathy, Compassion, Imagination, Freedom, Courage.
The lost classic "Fire" (from one of Rony’s early bands)
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CHANTÉ: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Greater Than Code, Episode 245. My name is Chanté Martinez Thurmond, and I am here with my friend, Tim Banks.
TIM: Hey, everybody! I’m Tim Banks, and I am here with my friend, Damian Burke.
DAMIEN: Hi, I'm Damian Burke and I'm here with my friend, Arty Starr.
ARTY: Thank you, Damien, and I'm here with our guest today, Rony Abovitz.
This is actually the second time Rony has been with us on the show. The first time we unfortunately had some problems with our audio recording. We had a really great conversation so, disappointing, but I'm sure we will have an even better conversation the second time around.
Rony is a technology founder, pioneer inventor, visionary leader, and strategic advisor with a diverse background in computer-assisted surgery, surgical robots, AI, computer graphics, and visualization sensing advanced systems, media animations, spatial audio, and spatial computing XR.
Rony has a strong history of creating new technology fields in businesses from the startup garage onward, including Magic Leap, the world's leading spatial computing company founded back in 2011. His new still start at Sun & Thunder he plans to launch in 2021 and prior to Magic Leap, he also founded MAKO Surgical, a medical software and robotics company specialized in manufacturing surgical robotic arm assistance technology.
He is deeply into film, art, animation, music recording, AI, robotics, ethics, and philosophy. He is also a senior advisor at the Boston Consulting Group advising a small group of deeptech startups and a few Fortune 50 companies, a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, and a two-time World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.
Welcome to the show, Rony.
RONY: Thank you for having me again.
ARTY: It’s a pleasure. So our first question we always ask on this show is what is your superpower and how did you acquire it?
RONY: I think my superpower is not being able to do a podcast the first time correctly. Actually, I think I had a really good response last time, but I think the main one is I’m just like a space cadet and you could translate that into just, I have a very freewheeling imagination so I think that's always been my superpower. I could always imagine, or have a creative idea around a problem and really imagine things that don't exist, that aren't there yet. I think that's been always really helpful in anything I've done. So that's probably my main superpower. I don't know what that would look like as a superhero outfit.
I think I gained a second achievement level, which is some level of insight, or intuition into knowing things, which I think it's really hard to explain, but I feel like I didn't have that. And then in college, it was a really interesting experience, which I probably won't get into a lot of detail here, but I think I gained that achievement level. I feel like I have both of those now.
I feel like I leveled up and gained this insight intuition kind of thing that I didn't have before and I think those two together have been helpful. So there's probably many more achievements to unlock, but I think I got those two so far in the game.
DAMIEN: You leveled up on intuition as a result of an experience in college.
RONY: Yes. It was an interesting experience. I had a transcendent experience.
DAMIEN: [chuckles] Well, that sounds exciting.
ARTY: I think before my question was, how did you develop that? Tell us a little bit about your background. What kind of family did you come from? Was this something that you think was cultivated in childhood, or was this something that happened as you got to adolescence and then to into college?
RONY: My mom's a painter. So she's an artist and she was pregnant with me walking around the campus at Kent State during the Kent State shootings and had to run away to not be shot. That was kind of there, but not there. She was an art student at Kent State at the time. I think she said to me at some point, there was difficulty in the pregnancy such they had to give her some morphine, or something. It probably got into my brain [chuckles] so probably scrambled it a little bit. I'm not sure if I had all that, but who knows what they did back then.
So there's a little bit of that, but my mom's a freewheeling artist so I grew up that way. Dad passed away a couple of years ago, but always entrepreneurial, also artistic. So had this freewheeling imaginative household where no one told you, you couldn't do anything. I think that actually helped a lot.
Nobody was born with a silver spoon. Both my parents were born but I was dirt poor as you could imagine. My Dad grew up in a house that had no windows so when we'd visit, my grandmother’s chickens would literally fly through the window [laughs] and knock your head. When you're a kid, you think it's the greatest thing in the world. I think I swam in a bathtub that also served as the place to cheat fish. I think my Dad's mom would bring fish to the market and sell them, like a carp, or something and I thought they were my friends and didn't realize they were turning into dinner. I think that's why I became a vegetarian.
So we grew up really poor on both sides. Everyone was self-made, freewheeling, and imaginative so that probably did help.
CHANTÉ: Yeah. I think for myself, too. Just growing up poor helped with my imagination; I just dreamed of all these amazing things I would one day have as an adult. So I happen to think it's a superpower, too. It's pretty cool. Thanks for sharing all that.
TIM: So I guess, what I'd like to know is when you’re coming from that kind of background, what first was your jumpstart into using technology, or being interested in technology?
RONY: I think I was always simultaneously interested in science and art at the exact same time, which is odd, which makes for a good misfit because either you're the art damaged kid in school and you hang out with the art crowd, or you're the science nerd and you hang out with – but I liked both so there's not really a good place where if you're both to hang out. Probably just being really curious about how everything works and what's going on behind the scenes. Like, why are things the way they are, trying to imagine them, but I'm not totally sure. I just sort of always was into both.
That is a very good question. It's kind of asking if you're a fish, how did you get fins? I'm like, “I guess, they grew?” But I don't know, I just seem to be equally into that. Probably Star Wars, if you really get down to it. I saw Star Wars as a kid and suddenly, that's what you want to do. You want to build an X-wing, fly an X-wing, blow up the Death Star. That probably had a lot to do with it. Actually got to meet George Lucas, which was super awesome and I'm like, “You're responsible for my entire path in my life. Science and engineering, wanting to do all these crazy things. It's all your fault.” He was like, “Oh my God, don't blame me for this.” [chuckles]
RONY: But no, it was in a funny way.
CHANTÉ: That's funny because the last time the conversation we had, Rony, we talked about all these cool people that you've met that have influenced you and I asked you like, “Is this a SIM? How are you meeting all these amazing people?” [laughs]
RONY: I'm pretty damn sure it's a SIM at this point.
Definitely a SIM. I'm very close to that. [overtalk]
CHANTÉ: Become convinced now, for sure.
RONY: We can get into that later, if you want. I think it's a SIM. I'm not sure who's running it right now, but it’s a SIM. [overtalk]
CHANTÉ: [inaudible] wanting to do that.
ARTY: So with all this creativity, what were some of the first things you started dreaming about building?
RONY: I think as a kid, I wanted to make a solar-powered airplane, which sounds like an odd thing, but I was weirdly into solar power. Like, I wanted solar-powered cars, I started to get solar cells from Radio Shack and soldered them up in stuff and spin motors. I'm like, “That's so cool, it's free, there's no battery needed,” and then of course, you need batteries to store it if there's clouds. But I was thinking that was really neat. It was just like this magic of sun on this thing, on this chip and suddenly, you get electricity out of it. It was like, whoa.
I think my uncle gave me some Radio Shack science kit when I was really small. I started messing with it. I had a solar cell and I figured that was magical and I got really into it.
I don't know why I didn't pursue that because it seems like that'd be a good thing to do today. But I was like really into in the very beginning, solar-powered, building solar-powered everything, especially solar-powered airplanes. I wanted to build some perpetually flying. Actually, I designed something that won a state science fair award that pretty much looks like later on and after that, it was a plane that I think flew across the United States, a solar-powered plane, and it was very similar design.
So I was actually kind of happy I was a little bit in front of all of that, maybe 5 years or 10 years ahead of that one.
ARTY: Just thinking about there's so many things like that that are magical. Just you've got this conversion of sun energy to electricity and there's so many things now we take for granted that are just kind of there like, “Oh, I have the internet in my pocket.” I feel like we've lost some bit of that wonder with taking some of these things for granted.
I was talking with Chanté a little bit earlier about how dreaming gets stifled, how creativity gets stifled, and we ended up in this mode where we're doing things the way the world expects us to. We've got jobs in this path of life that we're supposed to follow and these rules, or the ways that things are supposed to be versus that passion of creativity, of discovery, of wonder, of wow, isn't this amazing that sun energy can be converted to electricity? I wonder what I could do with that. I wonder what I could build. I wonder what I could create that doesn't already exist.
Where do you think that spirit comes from and is there a way that we can create more of that in our culture?
RONY: It's a great question because I think there are still kids who have this experience, but I think less kids. I think it was just totally unstructured imagination, unstructured play. All my friends when we were kids – I didn't let my daughter do this, but we were like 8, 9, 10 years old, we’d grab a garbage can lid, make a sword out of a branch, and then we'd run around in the woods fighting dragons. There's no adults around, dozens of kids having some kind of like full on whatever we wanted. Like, we're just running about till almost nighttime deep in the woods like the kids from Stand By Me, the movie, or something. We got our bikes; we're riding miles away. We’d do whatever adventures we wanted.
I remember a couple of friends of mine and I, we'd walk along the highway, which was incredibly stupid, collecting beer cans because we thought, “Wow, look at that, we can collect beer cans.” I don't know why. We're like 9 years old, we thought that would be a cool thing to do and we would figure it and then we'd cut them and make airplanes out of them and just craft stuff. That's probably dangerous. I won’t recommend kids do that right now.
But the idea of unstructured play; there's not a game, there's not something someone designed, you're not watching television. You're just running around in the world, doing stuff and your brain and your imagination have to fill in the gaps, I think that's what people really should be doing. Whereas, I think a lot of kids do this now, here's a tablet. It forces you to think in patterns; you’re thinking in a certain way and that's actually scary because everyone's copy pasting the same device and running on the same popular app, or whatever and that's patterning your brain to be caught in a certain way of thinking versus this unstructured thinking, which is more rare right now, I think.
DAMIEN: So that sounds like something that would be lovely to get back as an adult. Do you have any techniques? Is this something you do? Do you have ways of structuring that? [chuckles] Of getting to that unstructured play as an adult?
RONY: I'm an anomaly because I don't think I ever got structured, which is, I think unfortunate. Not unfortunate, I think it's fortunate that I never got structured. So trying to think if you got caught and how would you break free. But I think I really never got caught in that net. I think I've always been like a wild fish in the ocean, but – [overtalk]
DAMIEN: How do you stay out of the net? That's also something I'd like to hear.
RONY: That's an interesting, I never had a job, like an actual job job. College, I started my first company and never really worked for anybody. I figured I'm unmanageable so I can't work for anybody, I might as well start my own companies. That was a saving grace because I think it would have been difficult to work for somebody. To conform and work in somebody else's system rather than to build something and try to make that a place people want to be at. But then it's weird, it's like you become the man and you're like, “Oh my God, what am I doing?” That's a whole another topic I won't get into this second.
DAMIEN: But do you provide that sort of structure and patterns for people who work for you?
RONY: In the beginning of all the companies I started—and I'm doing this again with a new one—it's always been freewheeling, awesome – I think the people that are beginning, that was the greatest time ever. But then as you get bigger, once you get to pass 20, 30 people, even 30 people unstructured, big, crazy, some folks start to come in and crave that structure. This is chaos, like what's going on and then you're like, “Okay, we’ve got to order this and we’ve got to processes and operating plans and all these other things,” and then next thing you know, there's 2,000 people working for you.
I'm still trying to figure out how do you maintain that wonderful, free-spirited, freewheeling environment at bigger scale because at bigger scale, it feels like you’ve got to create all this framework and all these boxes for people to be in and processes. People are demanding it like, sometimes employees get upset that it's not there because they're so used to being in that cage for somebody else that they're not used to being free and they want to run around and go back to that cage and I'm like, “Be free,” and they're like, “No.”
People who worked for me in the past will tell you that. They'll basically say it was this odd thing that I was pushing them to be more free than they wanted and then the ones who really liked it, got shunned as the things got bigger because what's that person not conforming? They're supposed to follow the procedures and why are you spending all your time with them because they're the ones that don't follow the rules. I'm like, “I don't like following the rules.”
So I guess, what is a good technique? I have a recording studio, so I think playing really loud guitar helps. It lets you feel like you can like do anything. Really loud guitar through a big amp, a lot of fuzz pedals, or things like that, or you go on a long hike. We would do ocean kayaking, go a whole day ocean kayaking where there's sharks and weird stuff and some of you are far away from a computer. There's the universe and wild animals and you're back to primal nature again; you feel like you're just a wild, free spirit. I try to do that as much as possible.
I think those things help, but it's hard, though and then you’ve got to go back on a Monday morning and there are some office space type manager asking you for TPS reports. That's really difficult.
I feel bad because as the companies I've built got bigger, I probably had someone who had someone who made someone do a TPS report and it always bothered me. But it's like, you can't run at a certain size without the TPS report even though nobody knows what a TPS report is. If you don't know what it is, watch the movie but it's like why at some point you'd have someone two, or three levels below you make someone else do a TPS report?
ARTY: Yeah. That's a great question. It's like who created this damn report? And why are we so coming to the demand of a report, or empirical data to move forward and work it in our life?
As you were sitting there talking and everything, it brought me back to that comment I had again of Geoffrey West from the Santa Fe Institute who talked about his concept of scaling, how that happens in all things that exist in the universe. There's a ratio of scale that we can't really escape and it's an interesting phenomenon that I'm still trying to understand, but I think, Rony where I feel really kindred spirited to you is I hate to be tamed and then once I feel like we have to scale, or tame, I'm like, “Oh, this I want out of this.” Get me out of this game, get me to the new game where I get to germinate something and start it, and there's no form and I love that.
I wonder, though. Somebody like you who's created all this amazing technology, aren't you the guy who could maybe make this a reality where we can create those experiences [chuckles] using technology to help us get in and out of these dreams, dates in and out of these waking and normal states that the society has locked into?
RONY: Well, here's a couple things to think about from what you're saying. One of them, I have a notion of can you build a gigantic decentralized—I won't even call it a company, but a guild—of free people who are connected through blockchains? And it does not look the pyramid of structure of a company, but it's some kind of guild of artisans and we blockchain to each other and emerge and do things together? Like orcas will form packs because it's the right thing to do but there’s no – well, there actually is an alpha orca so you do have a small pyramid. So it's the alpha orca have fights and then you become the ronin orca. There's a little bit of that.
But is there a decentralized guild blockchain thing that could have hundreds of thousands of people that could build totally new tech platforms that are not the central power tech companies? I've always been pondering that and wondering how is that possible and every time I've thought about it, it seems like people collapse back into the same structure of the pyramid. Like they want a king, you try to create something that doesn't have a king, or a queen, and they want the king again. Why do we keep doing that? But somehow, I believe that there is a way to do that to have that democratic free-spirited thing.
I think that's what the United States was founded on. Let's not have a king. Let's just have someone who's kicked out every 4 years. They're nothing special. Don't make a big deal about them. But now, 200 years later, we made that person more into a king. We give them special powers; they can do things and they don't get – they're above normal citizens. How did that fall apart?
But I just keep wondering, is that possible? Because I think big tech companies reflect more of a monarchy. There is a central figure that have massive power, there's the inner court that have massive power, and then there's the serfs who all work for the central authority. It's basically, we fought against that to free ourselves of monarchies, but our companies and tech companies look more like monarchies. They could be benevolent, or not benevolent, but we still have not been able to get past that king over people thing. It perplexes me and why we keep repeating that.
TIM: Well, I think there's a few things with that. You mentioned scale, like as you get bigger and as you add more people, you add more ideas and you add more notions on what the right thing to do is, or what the right way to go is. Obviously, as you do that, more folks are going to agree, or disagree on it. You're going to have various ways of opinions; you end up getting factions, or tribes, or whatever it is. Certainly, this is where people think that way, this group of people think that way, and then you introduce politics because you have to find some way to get all these folks with different ideals to agree on a common purpose, or a common goal. When you do that, once you introduce politics, then you start to introduce the notion of leadership like that.
But I think it's interesting when we look at it in the guise of big tech companies and how we have these regions, a lot of this ends up coming is because of the people that ended up profiting the most off of the tech company are the ones that get to make all the decisions. It would be an interesting thing if there was a truly democratic company where everybody from top to bottom made the same amount of money, had the same amount of equity, have the same amount of say in the company. And then if you are a leadership role, it's more like maybe a strategic vision, but your CEO is going to make the same amount of money as your junior developer. Because unless you do that, you don't have a democratic, you don't function; you have a hierarchy by definition.
DAMIEN: What we're talking about is power structures and every time there's a power differential, there's going to be a power structure that supports that. The reason why you said earlier when you were about talking how you were having to be like, “No, be free. There are no rules here. It's not a cage.”
People resist that because they've been lied to. They say, “You don't have to stick to my rules.” All that really means is I'm not going to tell you what the rules are, which is horribly traumatizing. So until you have that equally distributed power, you're going to have that hierarchy and that structure and somebody is going to want a TPS report before they can go forward on something.
RONY: Are there any examples where that's existed for some period of time, even in a small form? Like the equally distributed power, anything?
DAMIEN: I've seen it in co-ops. It requires a lot of trust and the more people you involve, the more differentials you're going to find. [overtalk]
CHANTÉ: And I think there are some [inaudible] in this communities.
ARTY: I think scale. [overtalk]
RONY: Like a small co-op.
CHANTÉ: We can definitely do this.
RONY: A small co-op.
ARTY: Yeah. There's definitely people that are trying to do the sorts of things that you're talking about from an organizational structure standpoint, but as you've also pointed out, there's dynamics of resistance to it of it not necessarily being what people want.
I mentioned this book before, Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book and the thought that comes to mind as we're talking about this dynamic of being pulled toward wanting order and structure is a big part of his thesis in the book is that we have a desire for order in our consciousness and we have a gravity toward wanting order in that chaos and disorder is uncomfortable.
So when we're in that uncomfortable situation, we can learn skills to create our own order out of the disorder, to be creative, to think about ways to construct new ideas and stuff in our head and make new games. But our brain wants some kind of game to play, wants some kind of order to build around, and I feel like, we were talking about these nets that we get caught in and the way that our education system is structured, the way that we learn in school is a net in itself. We learn how to play the game of school and teach people how to follow the rules and be really good at following the rules and in playing the game that's given to you.
I feel like if we want to teach people how to create order out of disorder from their own consciousness, through creative play, that we need a learning environment that is oriented toward those things so that we can get practiced at it. Being in a situation of being uncomfortable, being around people that are good at those kinds of things that we can learn how to mimic perhaps and shift those shifts, those things around that way.
An acquaintance of mine, we had on the show a while back, Sam Aaron, he does Sonic Pi and he teaches little kids how to code, learn how to be a music DJ and it's the coolest thing. I was reading this post about a little 6-year-old, who was super excited about DJing it at her next birthday party coming up and she was going to get really good at DJing and mixing her own beats. She's 6 years old and I'm just looking at this how beautiful it is and that seeing that fire, that inspiration to create light up in someone, once that fire's lit, it keeps fueling itself. It keeps fueling that desire.
I feel like there's something very powerful about music, because you've got some basic rules of how things work, but this huge space to create in, and almost everything we can relate in various ways to music. What if we changed the way that we educated to focus on some of those musical principles and this could be something that's adult learning, too is how can we learn to riff together in a musical context and learn how to do jazz?
RONY: That’s very cool.
DAMIEN: What I heard is that we should all start jazz bands.
TIM: Yeah, same.
RONY: That's all good with me.
TIM: Let’s see if they get too big, then you have to have a conductor.
DAMIEN: Like a quartet, big band at most. No orchestra. [overtalk]
TIM: You see, big band has to have a conductor, right? That's one of the things.
DAMIEN: I have played in a big band without a conductor.
TIM: I was in a couple of myself. We'll talk about that one later.
RONY: Well, actually that's a good thing because if you have a trio, or a quartet, everyone can go and it somehow works. You all have to pay attention, but if you try to do that with 10 people, 20, 50, a 100, it turns into noise.
DAMIEN: I also think it depends on what kind of music you're making. A symphonic orchestra generally needs a conductor, at the very least a concert master who can wave the bow and get people on time. But I've been in drum circles of 300 people that made beautiful music with absolutely no leadership, or any sort of control like that.
TIM: Well, I think the difference is that in the drum circle, I don't think there's a preconceived plan that's being executed. It's all improv, right? It's all made on the fly and then you pick a direction. I think it's different when you have a set task, or a thing you’re going to accomplish. In the case of a symphony, or any other thing where we have we're not making up music on the point on the spot, we have a set score. We know what notes they're going to be and we're going to be done.
I think there's space for both of those. There's space to say that we're just going to see what comes out of this and then there's another bullet that says, “Okay, well we have to do this.” One is very much creative and I love that. The other part is executive. You don't want, for example, surgeons to just go in there willy nilly and just saying, “We're just going to see what we find and just do whatever.” There has to be a plan. There has to be something that gets executed. Any kind of engineering feat, it has to be done with a plan and structure and different things that have to be done at certain times.
So I think there's a place for both in any healthy culture and society where people that create and people who design certainly should not be encumbered by definitions of structure. But if you're going to create, or design something that's going to withstand a hurricane, there obviously needs to be some concerns about a structure and how things are put together.
RONY: But let me give you guys a comment on power structure and I'm a bit of anomaly because I've always been super uncomfortable being in that alpha power spot, but I've always had to be there to build a company. Some of them got quite big and the bigger they got, the more uncomfortable I was because I didn't think a human being should have that power.
By the way, the question about smart people and billionaires, I've met a bunch of those billionaires that you've mentioned, I've also met some incredibly smart people; they're not always directly correlated. There may be a smart billionaire, but it's not one-to-one—a billionaire who’s someone who's highly optimized at a certain function. Some of those brilliant people I know are super poor and they have built-in things in their mind that they don't want to do the things that they might see oppress others to get to a certain place. They just don't. So they're more happy in their lot making $25,000 a year, or whatever they're doing.
But I think what's interesting about trying to not have a power structure is how people just default go into this algorithm in people's brains. I'll give an example. When one of my companies was small, I had a largely empty office and a couple cool collectible vinyl toy things. I love weird, those kind of animate vinyl toys and then just Star Wars thing. I just have a couple of my shelves. When people would visit, like new employees, or partners, they would bring something and put it on the shelf like an homage offering. I'm like, “That's weird,” and then the more that people thought now it was required to bring one of those and make an offering and leave it on my shelf.
So a few years later, my shelves are covered the hundreds of these offerings and I'm like, “What in the heck is going on here?” I didn't ask anyone to do it, but people felt like if you're going to go see the alpha wolf, you have to bring them a dead rabbit and leave it as an offering and it was just amazing. It's like all this stuff and I would give most of it away, but it was really weird how everyone has this algorithm that they feel like if you're going to go visit the alpha leader, you've got to bring a gift, an offering, a moose, whatever you happen to have caught.
Even when we dealt with people from outside the US, it was even more extreme like you'd have this whole formal exchange; you had to bring them a gift and they would bring you this gift. I was like, “What is going on here?” This is thousands of years of evolutionary biology wired into people's brains making them do things. I'm like, “I don't want to be that!” Like, that's not what we're doing. We're totally building a different social order, no one's paying attention to me at all, and everyone is just like, “Nope, we have this code built into our brain and we're just going to do that.”
I found that to be really strange to the point where I build two decent sized companies and each time, I felt like I had to throw the ring into the volcano like in The Hobbit, or Lord of the Rings, because if you don't, it just kind of gets to you. I felt like if it started to get to me, I just need to throw it into the volcano and start over again. Hand the ring to someone else and go back to base camp and try it again, which I'm doing now.
But I found that both times I built successful tech, but not the nonhierarchical culture I had in mind at the beginning, which I'm trying to do now again. I'm not sure how do you fight human biology? I'm like, “Don't do that. Stop bringing the moose and the rabbits by! What on earth are you people doing?” and they just keep doing it. I don't know what it ism or why, but it's like, we are hard wired as humans to follow an alpha wolf. In fact, the alpha two and threes feel like they actually have to challenge you in a tribal fight and if you don't put them down and show the rest of the wolf pack that you're the alpha, then they'll try to eat you. It's like what is going on?
But that is what happens at every company, in every country, in every government, and it's so weird that we have not evolved past the way we were thousands and thousands of years ago.
CHANTÉ: Is it possible, Rony the endeavor that you're working on now to use technology, to dream of new futures and realities that does decentralize social structures in the sense – because my feeling is the collective consciousness is why we're doing this. Like, we can't escape ourselves.
So if we give ourselves new experiences and we know what it feels like to have decentralized collectivism, then we may choose to build new cities, families, and companies in a decentralized structure. Because that power and oppression, it feels like a human instinct that we can't escape it. but I'm just not convinced that that's real. I think it's been something, a story, a narrative that we've been stuck in. So I think we have to build a new story, or create a new story and a new reality and I think technology can allow us to do that and people like you and everyone on this call, we can do that together.
ARTY: Yeah. I was thinking about that, too of software gives us this ability of reality construction and if we've learned certain ways of doing things, if we operate in a certain net in a certain rails playing certain games and we don't have a template for anything else so that outside of that is just disorder and unstructured and unknown, then we're going to cling to the familiar structure. We're going to cling to what feels safe and known and predictable, and that we know how to operate.
I feel like the way to escape that is to create an alternative that offers structure of a system that gives you a set of rails that reorients things and creates opportunities for creativity, for entrepreneurship, for ideation, but creates new structures where those things can thrive. I don't think we're going to get away from technology, but we can reinvent our interface with technology. We can reinvent the shape of our social software infrastructure and how we relate to one another through technology. I feel like to overcome that gap, what needs to happen is a vision, really, is the putting together a vision of what that might look like such that we can build it.
RONY: I spent the last decade going really deep into that, about as deep as you could possibly imagine, and it started out actually a few years earlier, 2008, 2009, working on this call it a Miyazaki film world project with my friends at Weta and we spent a few years on that. And then one of the things I felt was if you're going to – I won't get into the details of the project is actually something Sun & Thunder will hopefully be releasing. But if I was going to go into this idea of hacking into reality, what is that? I actually needed to go do that in order to be credible about making a story about it, or making a film about it, or film world.
So I'm like, “Okay, I'm going to go on a tangent.” So I started a tech company with the idea that we're going to be reality hackers. Like, we're going to figure that out and we're just going to go all the way. We're going to hack into the visual cortex, we're going to go full on, and it was amazing because all these people, like people who created The Matrix and Neal Stephenson from Snow Crash, all these people started showing up.
And then some of the very early stuff we did, we started to go really there, like really deep. That's stuff that you can productize, but we're starting to unlock things about how the human brain works in our connection to this weird connection between the physics and how our brain constructs reality. What does that mean and how do you actually get in there and actually hack it?
We did some stuff that freaked me out so much. Everyone in the early days was like, ‘Whoa, maybe we need to take a step back.” I think that's actually what happened. We had those whoa moments. “Let's take a step back and let's not unlock full atomic fusion right now. Let's do something that you can actually maybe ship,” but we're going to places that were not ready for as a species. We really had those moments where we would see over the horizon. That was intense.
One of the things that made me walk back and I think a couple of early folks that we just felt like human software, our human biology is totally unprepared for this. Like, we're not prepared to hack reality. We are not equipped. We're not ready as a species. We would screw things up beyond all belief. Look how badly we're doing on social media, which is so thin and almost nothing. When I think of digital realities, whether it's AR, spatial computing, VR, those are simulation training grounds for the real thing.
It scares me when people are talking about neural implants in the brain like, no, no, no, we are not ready for that. In our SIM testing on social media and digital reality, we're not doing a good job. We’re creating fairly awful places with occasional cool places. I thought, “Okay, we're going to unleash this like Renaissance of art and imagination.” It's like, no, that's not what's going on. It's going on in little pockets. But for every art and Renaissance thing, you've got like nine, or ten horrible things. Some things I can't even mention.
I used to tell our investors, “Someone's going to make trillions of dollars doing the things we refuse to do” because the level of control and weird stuff you can pump into someone's brain. There are companies I'm not naming; you could imagine why they're spending $6 to $8 to $10 billion a year trying to conquer digital reality. Why they have reality labs. You should be really frightened about why they're doing it. L
RONY: I started out with a notion of can there be this real creative imagination Renaissance and I actually believe there can. But at the same time, it's like every time you have a superhero, there's something else like the super villain appears. It's a law of the universe and I feel like the more we were trying to do good in hacking reality, you would have bad equally emerging and equal strength, maybe sometimes even larger. I don't know what's going on, but it did get me to take a step back and wonder.
The human software is totally unprepared and so backwards. Like we're running Dos 1972 right now, or even worse than that. Our software is like Middle Ages and it's so easily manipulatable and triggerable and all kinds of horrible – the human, we have not transcended. We are not where we need to be collectively. That doesn't mean there's not individuals, or groups who are transcending and becoming more enlightened and evolving in a good way. But the net human condition seems to be quite in the bad place right now. It actually scares the crap out of me.
So I did take a step back from the notion of I don't know we're ready and maybe we just need to take a breath and figure out our social system, our human biology, like what's going on because we are evolving at so much slower pace than the rapid accelerating pace of our tech capabilities. We're building insane tech. AI will pass us all in this decade, like, what the heck are we doing to ourselves? We're unleashing things in the world we have no idea and society is not capable of predicting. The nonlinear event impact is really scary and we just keep doing it.
I don't mean to be all pessimistic, but I think the hope of this creative Renaissance is something that's a beacon—it should be a beacon for some—where you're free, you’re decentralized, you're not controlled by this monarchal power. But too much of the other side is actually winning right now, too much of the other side is dominating everything because they're playing the game that I think our brain is wired to. We're wired to a pyramid structure.
The people who realize that manipulate it, they take advantage. They do all the things; they’ve figured out the social psychology, they've hacked the code of the human brain, and they're making tons of money doing it because they know how we are. I don't know if that's just how it will be forever, or is there going to be an actual enlightenment for people. That made me take a step back from hoping that everyone will just have this inner artist wake up and now, I’m not so sure.
CHANTÉ: I love that question now. I think it makes me go back to something I continue to say, it's just like, do we get off of our technologies, or get off of the things that we believe connect us? Because we are ourselves technologies so, do we need to be constantly manipulating something else? There's a lot of power in just being together in real time, in real life together and I think if we can go back to some of that, we can remind ourselves because—and this is coming from somebody who spent a lot of time and money in meditation and self-transcendence.
Now I'm at this place where I'm like, “Do I need to transcend, or should I just be right where I am because the past, the present, and the future are actually all one and should I pay attention to who I am and what I am and where I am a little bit more versus constantly thinking in the future?
This is so hard for me because I'm a futurist. I love to think and imagine new possibilities. But I just wonder. That’s kind of one of the mantras I've been sitting with in the last six months, or so.
RONY: Thinking of what you're saying, we had a pretty high-level of Tibetan Buddhist who built one of the great temples in Tibet where monks meditate and they built it from memory. There's no architectural plans and he was one of the leaders that he came by and I showed him some stuff we were doing. It was maybe 5, 6 years ago. He's like, “That's amazing and you're cheating.” He goes, “We take years to learn how to do that, but we could do more than what you're doing. You're just level jumping.” I get what you're doing, I understand it but you're taking the elevator, the sky tram up the mountain, and there's something about – but you're not equipping people to know,” or.
I didn't really understand what he was talking about at the time. I think I have a better grasp now, but we're not spiritually ready for what we can do and they spent a lot of time doing this. They have their own virtual reality.
In fact, it was interesting was I said, “We're not really building technology. We're simply trying to unlock what's in the human brain, which is an amazing computer, best GP in the world is the visual cortex. Best display is our brain. That's all there, we're just trying to tap into it.” He's like, “We do the same thing using different tech, but you're kind of cheating.”
I thought that was interesting. It’s like you don't really have the satisfaction of climbing up to mid base camp on Everest; you just took the elevator and suddenly, you're there. But your lungs aren't ready. You didn't climb the mountain. You're not fit. I feel like technology is doing that for us. Spiritually, we're just not ready.
CHANTÉ: Yeah. I spend a lot of time in somatics. I'm in a couple of somatic communities and we talk a lot about those somatic reps. There's a lot of wisdom in experiencing something firsthand and witnessing somebody else do it alongside you in that community because we learn that way, too. If you're picking up on other people's energetic vibes and feel, you collectively whoever's in that space, in that room, It is something that cellularly somatically, you will become a little bit wiser from.
I can't describe it. It's only when I'm in a collective with my yogis who we're doing deep breathing together, or we're doing POS in a practice together and there's just this thing that I experience that I've never had on any drug, or any kind of tech, using technology, what do I put on a headset, or something? I can't describe it. It feels out of this world and it's almost like only those of us in that room would ever be able to describe it and maybe indescribable, but it's powerful. So I keep going back to that.
RONY: One of the things he told me was, “Okay, you'll help people realize that reality is just an illusion, but are they equipped to understand that?” That will just freak them out, they're going to break down, and now what? When you actually really get that, when you really understand like how reality is constructed, if you go deep and get into that, which we had to do to build some of the things we were doing, it does weigh heavily on you because you're like, “What the heck is actually going on?”
A lot of things you were taught growing up that your parents, or grandparents might believe and then you’re – where you might read in a book and you're suddenly facing that the reality you know is not stable; it's liquid, it's hackable, it's editable. You're like, “What is going on?” That kind of opening up of your mind is an interesting place, but no one's equipped to really go there. You almost got to step back and say, “I'm going to forget I saw that. Let me just go back and watch a football game,” and it's way easier to go back and play X-Box right now. [laughs]
DAMIEN: Those sorts of discoveries have been happening for all of recorded history and I think farther. People get there via gyms, they get there via sitting on a mountain in the modus pose and sometimes, they come back and go, “Okay, I'm just going to pretend that it's real.
And sometimes, they don't and die under a Bodhi tree, whatever. But these are things that these are not new realizations, or discoveries.
RONY: No, they're not. But what weird is that the vast majority of people have not had that.
RONY: Vast majority like, think about how many people in this country are not even on the first step of any form of enlightenment. The actions they take, the things they believe, the people they vote for, you're like, “They're so orthogonal and distant from that.” So you do have pockets of people who've had enlightenment and transcendence over the last thousands years, but it's a fractional minority and that's what's like why are the rest stuck? Where is everybody's stuck on and why?
DAMIEN: Because they want to be.
CHANTÉ: Well, I don’t know. [overtalk]
DAMIEN: Ego death is death. Nobody wants death.
CHANTÉ: We’re programmed to be. I think we're conditioned and makes me think, too also Stanislav Grof, I'm not sure if you all know him, a famous transcendent, or transpersonal kind of.
RONY: What’s his last name?
CHANTÉ: Stanislav Grof talks about the spiritual emergency. I'll drop the link here. Really interesting, too and did a lot of holotropic breathwork to get people through transcendence and used a lot of other, I think drugs and synthetics to have those transcendental experiences. But talks a lot about the spiritual emergency and I think you're right, Rony talking about when we have this realization that oh my God, what is reality? [chuckles] Because reality is something that we all can define differently and even this is something that I think quite a bit about what the future of work and technology and all of us coming together, this convergence of who am I without that role, without that title? Who am I without my computer and without my phone with the internet in my pocket?
I don't know that we've spent enough time examining who we are going in. We're always looking out and I think we have to come back into ourselves to be home and I'd like to see and I am trying to do more of that, trying to cultivate those experiences with the communities that I run circles with, or the things that I have influence on is just, let's go back into ourselves because there's so much power there.
DAMIEN: I talk about this as the high school basketball version of reality. If you've ever been to a high school basketball game, championship, league championship, whatever, and you got the crowds yelling and screaming and everybody's enthused and excited about what's going on. If you were to go down to center court and wave your hands and go, “Hey, hey, hey! Hey everybody, everybody, whoa, whoa, none of this matters.” That's really rude.
You're right it doesn't matter. It's high school basketball, but we have chosen to make it matter because that's what makes the game. If you don't care about the rules, you don't have a game. If you don't care about the characters, you don't have a movie. If you don't care about the desk and the computer, you don't have a job.
So we make these decisions. We can see through it, if we choose to and see that it's an illusion, it doesn't really matter. But if that's what you're here for, go for it. Have fun. If that’s not –
RONY: Here's a question, just because it's an illusion, does it mean it doesn't matter?
RONY: Actually, just a hint at that. We made this digital person, her name was Micah, and people's reactions to her were unbelievable. They began to have relationships and we had to change behavior code around Micah and if you actually broke her personal space, she would leave. She'd walk away and actually open up a door in a wall and disappear. If you behave badly around her, you would lose access. We had to create this social code of conduct because people were – it was odd. I won't get into all of it. But then we fixed that and it was just interesting that people would want to be with her because she would gaze into your eye and pay attention to you. Looked amazingly real, but almost hyper real, like the most real person who was totally focused on you and that attention level from this illusion made people feel good.
Even though she is an illusion, that feeling was real and reality is illusion anyway so is she just as real as anything else, or was something going on? It was kind of odd, like is what you feel, or what you carry with you actually that thing anyway, even if it's all an illusion?
DAMIEN: And you get to decide that for yourself with and among your culture and your peers, your group.
ARTY: Well, I think joy matters for its own sake. Connecting with one another, having fun, experiencing joy, it’s a reason to live, it's a reason to be. And if we're playing a basketball game together, it's fun. The people that are in the crowd, enjoying the game and getting involved with it emotionally, too, it's fun and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with having fun and enjoying those experiences and then being meaningful for their own sake.
If we have an experience with a digital person and figure out ways to have some feeling of connection, of being paid attention to, of being listened to, there's definitely some risks with regards to dynamics of attachment and just messing with us as humans that I think are definitely of concern. There's just risks with creating emotional love attachments to digitalness that I think is unexplored, unpredictable riskiness because heartbreak is a real phenomenon experience that can be devastating.
That aside, I don't think there's anything fundamentally wrong with experiencing good feelings from those things happening in our lives.
TIM: I just wonder, though what does it say about the human condition when with 7 and a half billion people on the earth that we need to be with, we would think that we need to create a digital person with which to interact? There are so many of us out there with which we could be interacting and probably should be interacting. We've gotten this far as a species without needing to have an artificial person. [overtalk]
DAMIEN: Well, we have our emotional people. We have our pet canines, we have the robot people, people make friends with Roombas. Before that, people made friends with stars in the sky. They’ll look back to Orion and that’s Ra, Ra loves me and so on.
DAMIEN: It’s the same relationship we have with other human beings.
TIM: To some extent, but we were still, the person who was having that relationship was the one who actually defined what that person is, who that was, was essentially the imagination. With an artificial person, or artificial intelligence, you don't have that; someone else is deciding that. So would you want to have that type of interaction?
I feel like we could probably, as a society, do way better of devoting our resources to improving the human condition among each other by interacting with each other and understanding each other's hopes and dreams and heartbreaks and struggles than if we were going to spend the resources and the time to develop an artificial person with which to interact. If I think of what we want to do to help people, we want to help everyone to help the human condition, to help and just improve lives and create joy around people? I feel like spending toil creating an artificial person is a fool's errand to that end.
DAMIEN: Well, what you’re describing would be more effective, but it's outside of our skillset. [chuckles] We need George Lucas for that.
RONY: Let me agree, but disagree on one thing, I'll give you a couple examples. Imagine your family has, let's call it an artificial person who's with your family for hundreds of years and is the keeper of the cumulative wisdom of your great, great, great grandparents and is that wise uncle, or aunt, or grandparent that just has the whole history of your family all the way through and can be pulled up and is that kind of totem with the family all the way. It's just an example, something a human being can't do, but could be interesting. It's like we keep photo albums. Now we have video albums of family. What if you had almost like a shaman of the family who you could talk to and it could give you the accumulated wisdom of all your ancestors? Wouldn’t that be kind of interesting?
TIM: We've had that accumulated wisdom passed down without having the demonstrable technological privilege of being able to afford to purchase not only an artificial person, but the means with which to property to keep that artificial person going. They've had books and scrolls, they had cultural passed downs, they've had just word of mouth passing down these stories that have been great and rich stories for those of us who are descendants of slaves. I know who my family members were not because they were written down anywhere, not because of any technology preserved, but when they were preserved through word of mouth. Linnaeus was written in Bibles somewhere.
So we have that and we have the stories behind that, that to me, it speaks to why carrying those things forward is important, but it also speaks to that even if such technology existed back then, it would still be only to the very, very privileged. I think that we need to acknowledge that with a lot of the things we're talking about, talking about why people haven't become enlightened, it is definitely, almost certainly an essential clue that you have the time and the ability to be able to spend time enlightening yourself versus trying to survive.
I think if we spend the time to improve everyone's conditioned to where survival is not a struggle, then we will see much more enlightenment. We would actually see, I think, a dramatic leap forward in what we're capable of as a culture and as humanity. But we spend time shooting billionaires in the space instead.
RONY: When you say moving people from survival not being a struggle, what is that level that you think everyone is beyond the day-to-day struggle and is in that place? What does that mean you think across our collective country, or countries?
TIM: I know for me, I have been in a place where I didn't know where my next meal was coming from and I haven't had that worry in decades. I don't think any of us here probably have worried about really, are we going to eat today? Are we going to have a place to live today? Maybe we've had those struggles before, but right now, we're five of us sitting around here talking on the internet. Those are probably not our struggles. But there are people in this world that we can all imagine, we have folks that don't have that they are wondering, like, am I going to have the lights one day in the country we are on that only has the power on for 4 hours a day as our food going to spoil?
There are various conditions under which people struggle, I think if we could get a baseline and just have a baseline opportunities where people have power, they have access to clean water, they have access to healthcare, they have access to what we define the basic needs of food, health, power, access to the rest of the world via the internet as a baseline so that when they're not concerned with what we take for granted as the basic things. Like, I know if I get sick, there's a hospital I can go to. I don't know how much could it cost, but I can go right now and I can ask the hospital.
To have those kinds of things handled allows people the privilege to be able to really then look beyond the essence of struggle, taking care of the animal brain, and we can now look beyond those things. We can now say, “Hey, what does it mean now?” They can examine the condition a lot better when they're not hungry.
I feel like for us, these things are all great to talk about, but I think if there's a place where I'm going to turn my attention, if I can, beyond the basics of feeding my family, I would love to do that and then see what the world becomes in 50 years, or a 100 years when so many more people are freed from having the struggle of survival and we have now the point where we talked about before, where now we're all equal people in this society of the globe and now we all have our equal ideas that we can contribute to moving us forward instead of so many of us just trying to stay alive.
RONY: I'll tell you what's interesting. I agree with you. The thing that I wonder about first of all, I think it would be great if there is a way – by the way, I think technologically, there is a way to get everyone on the planet out of their survival mode. I really think we have the smarts, the capabilities, the resources to actually do that. Why we can't organize to do that, I'm not sure, but I totally believe we can. There's zero reason.
In fact, I was at this thing in 2005, it was the World Economic Forum where it's just the biggest billionaires and people that run the countries, the world, they get together. I was there as a technology pioneer. So every year, they'll pick a number of startup people and they want you to co-mingle with the people that run the biggest things on the planet.
It was a very weird experience. But one of the things they were talking about was this issue, how do we solve that and I'm just sitting there going, “All of you in this effing room could actually solve this today. Right now. You really could.” There's meetings, there's dinners, people are talking about it. I'm like, “That's good that you're doing, but you literally can. All of you have the means to do it.” Like, where is the – but they didn't. They didn't do it, but they were talking about doing it. I'm like, “Do you like talking about doing it more than doing it?”
So that was one thing. I don't know why we haven't able to organize, but the other piece is my grandparents, my great-grandparents, everyone was as dirt poor as you can imagine. But they were more spiritual and transcendent and enlightened and that as we got up, I look at my cousins, everyone's struggled and then my parents did a little better and we did a little better. People seem to be less concerned about becoming enlightened and improving and more concerned about what's the next car they're going to buy and we do need to bring everyone to that baseline, I totally agree.
But I haven't seen it make people get spiritually better, get themselves together more. It's more of they go down a different path of just wanting more cars, more things, and less enlightened. It's kind of weird. I don't know why. In fact, the more money, maybe the inverse proportion that the whole enlightenment, it's a weird phenomenon. Not that you want people to be impoverished like, we want to pull people out of that. I think that's important. But as you go to the other side, you almost zap that part of your brain away. You have too much money, it makes you not sensitive anymore to what's happening in the world.
ARTY: There's this game of capitalism that is this game of business of how much money can we make and you see different folks at different tiers of playing these various games, whether you're in the workforce and you're thinking about how do I get the highest paying job and be able to buy a nice house and there's a set of rules and thinking of how to excel in that. Then you've got this world of investment and just playing at another level of abstraction.
But in both of those dynamics, there's this game and these rules and this idea of what it means to win that seems to anchor people's thinking and drive. And then as we learn from others, what it means to win and we see other people being successful in that and they go and buy a new fancy car and then we're like, “Whoa, they want a fancy car. Well, I want a fancy car, too.” So we mimic these desires from other folks in our culture at whatever game we're fascinated by and I feel like some of those things are some of the fundamental things that need to shift is these game mechanics that we're incurring around.
One of the things from the Flow book is Csikszentmihalyi talks about how symbols are deceptive and they have a way of distracting us from the realities they're supposed to represent. So there's these symbols of things that we chase—a better job, a bigger house, more money, et cetera—and these symbols are things that are supposed to make us happy and then we end up chasing the symbol. Often, people that have all kinds of money playing these games, doing all this stuff, they still haven't found a way, even with all these things, to find happiness, to find joy in their lives.
I feel like if we can learn and reorient around the experience of joy, the experience of creation, of creating with other people, of learning how to have and how to experience these really cool highs in life and turn those kinds of experiences into the goals that we have, that maybe we can break free of the chains of things that we play of what it means to win, what it means to win at life. This is effectively what we're talking about here.
CHANTÉ: I was going to say, as you were describing that, it’s like okay, then how do we rebuild – maybe not rebuild as a word – it's how do we cultivate a culture amongst those of us who are interested to orient us towards this collectivism and community versus this self-actualization and individualization that we tend to be orienting to here in this country and other first world countries? I happen to believe we have the ability to build culture and that is something we’ve got to spend more time and money doing.
So makes me think also of this blog post I stumbled upon a few years ago that was comparing Maslow's hierarchy of needs structure to that of the Blackfoot Indian community and saying how he had taken that for inspiration and used his own cultural and his own lived experience to change the narrative around what that was to create this new conceptual model. They started with self-actualization and I believe as it went up, it was more oriented towards community.
So I keep going back to our first nations people around the world and I think there's a lot of wisdom there that we haven't tapped into and we sometimes believe that there's no technology there, but there's a ton of technology in those communities that we just have discarded, or the belief is now that that's not revolutionary when in fact, it probably has been revolutionary the whole time and we've just set out to believe something different.
RONY: I totally agree. Chanté, you asked the question, are we technology? I think so.
There's probably very little doubt that we are. I think we're just becoming aware of that and we're becoming aware that we're in some kind of SIM with rules and not just one rule set. So I think depending on where you're going, you could play the accumulate the gold coins rules, amass the kingdom, or you go down the enlightenment path. I think there's multiple games in the SIM at the same time and that makes the game design quite interesting. [chuckles] I'm becoming more and more convinced that's what's going on.
DAMIEN: It’s like the Total Front. There's multiple games, people compete in different things.
RONY: Yes. It's an open game world.
CHANTÉ: It is and I think we have to continue to remind ourselves of that. One of the questions I had written down just between our last call and this one is just who are we going to give the power? How are we going to empower people who maybe don't have the technology and the resources to develop and design these games? How do we get them the tools and how do we make it a little bit more equitable so that we can have new lived experiences and realities? Because if I go back to this first nations, or indigenous people, are we including them in these conversations? Are we talking to folks who aren't using this technology every day? And then once we bring them into the conversation, how do we say, “Okay, here's something.” Maybe they don't want it, but here's something let's see what you build.
RONY: I think one of the things that's going on, one of the game mechanics are one uncovered, which is survival of the fittest. I think that's happening and I think technically savvy people are using their capabilities to evolve past non-technically savvy people. Those capabilities give you huge advantages of resource control and then that gives them an ability to create even more technology.
If you think about a survival of the fittest game mechanic, technology actually plays into that really well. I think it's emerging out of that. It's like the human mind, if you don't believe in Darwin, it doesn't matter it's happening. It believes in you. Just like, don't believe in gravity, don't believe in climate change, we believe in you anyway. We're going to flood the earth. We're going to burn down California. Climate change is going to do its thing. Physics is going to do its thing. It doesn't care who believes in you, or not. Doesn’t need you to believe in it. I think Darwin doesn't need you to believe in Darwin either, it's just happening and those who don't believe in it, you're going to get evolved away because the people that believe in it tend to be more on the science, tech understanding what's going on side and they are disproportionally winning past the people who are stuck.
I actually think the way we're a product of some version of us that evolves past other versions of us that went extinct, I kind of worry, but probably realize that's what's happening. The tech enabled folk are the ones who are literally winning the survival of the fittest and they're just zooming past everyone else and in 50 years, it's going to be the gap is so unbelievably wide that I don't know what's going to happen, but it feels like a Darwinian lever. That's what it feels like what's going on and we're having a spike.
Evolution is not just linear; it has these discontinuities. It feels like tech is one of those discontinuities that's creating a spike and we're evolving into something else, we’re fusing into tech to be these tech bio things that will outrun, out pass, out intelligence our classic selves, what we are right now.
I don't know what you do with everyone who is not keeping up; that's where the compassion and empathy has to come in. How do you pull everyone forward, educate everyone? Because if they don't, they literally are in the Darwin rule going to get left behind in a serious way. That's what's kind of scary. Sounds very doom and gloom, I didn't mean to go there. We need to end on a much happier note.
DAMIEN: Well, should we move on to reflections? Does anyone have a happy reflection they want to kick off with?
TIM: I think that the thing that when we're all talking about it, I do like Damien's notion of the drum circle where I feel like we as a global community, hopefully, can get to the point where we can all bring our drums to the circle and just see what comes out of it. Right now, we are playing sheet music. [chuckles] We probably need to get on the same sheet of music and then learn to just bring our drums to the circle.
I think a lot of the things we talked about are steps along the way, but I do think that we all have to do our part to make sure everybody can be included in this and get to that democratic anarchistic notion where everybody is equal and everybody's input is as valuable as everyone else's, but that's the goal, right? I feel where everybody is valued, everyone is heard and everybody is seen and I think that's a noble goal for anybody.
RONY: I totally agree.
CHANTÉ: I love that reflection, by the way, Tim and I think where I'm really curious is just going back to something that Rony said around how do we build these decentralized guilds protected by blockchains. That's something that I wrote down, but I would love to just continue to dream about and of course, those of us on this call today, it's like let's continue this conversation offline somewhere, at Rony’s, [laughs] because technology is not being nice to us today. [laughs] But I'm really inspired and just so happy, we got a chance to have this conversation again. Thank you.
ARTY: The thing I keep coming back to is this breaking out of these nets. How do we break out of the nets and create opportunity to innovate, invent, to rethink, to enable new sorts of things to happen? As long as we're stuck in this current path of momentum that already exists, that we're already moving toward, it's a challenging road. We've got a lot of big problems that need solving, that can be solved, that we're capable of solving, and yet we don't do it and why don't we do it at an abstract level? Well, we're stuck in these nets.
I think about your background, Rony that you talked about with starting pretty much as a founder, you're going down the entrepreneur route because you don't fit in easily in existing systems. So it's much easier to operate in a mode of building your own.
One of the things I've been thinking about is how do we create more entrepreneurship and enable more entrepreneurial innovation to happen and teach and create space for those sorts of skills. I feel like this goes together with the distributed self-organizing, whatever that emergence of new social order is, that speaking that way of being in that unstructured space of being okay with the discomfort and being able to create your way out of the box is something that we need to create a deliberate effort to cultivate and to make space for. It won't happen on its own, unless we make a deliberate effort to bring that world into existence.
RONY: I think we need empathy, compassion, imagination, freedom, courage coupled to our crazy new technology. It's my version of we need Jimmy Hendrixs, Gandhis, and MLKs. Because they existed, that gives me hope that more of that's possible and that wasn't technology we made, that was those people found something in them that I think we all have, we just got to tap into. So I think that's really important.
The other last funny thing I want to I'll send it to you. This is about the glitch and crashing audio equipment. One of the best things I ever recorded in my band, we jammed for 10 minutes and then we went back and played. We recorded, it's a tape. We only recorded 35 seconds of it. I'll send you that. It was the best 35 seconds I ever did. But it's like, what happened to that 10 minutes? It was like, oh my God, that was the best session ever and then went back to play and we're like, “No, no, that couldn't possibly have happened.” We have no idea what we did. It was like the spirit came and took us and in 32 seconds, you see it taking off and then it's just the tape broke. I salvaged that 35 seconds. I'll send it to you guys. You can stick it into the podcast, but it's really funny and it's like, it's that glitch just when you're on the groove, it crashes everything.
So I'm going to get off because I've got to jump into something, but I also hope I don't crash this session. Hopefully, this one works out. But thank you so much for having me. This was great.
DAMIEN: Thank you for being here, Rony.
RONY: I really appreciate it. It was awesome. We went to some cool places. Thank you, everyone.
CHANTÉ: Thank you so much. It was great.
RONY: All right, peace.
CHANTÉ: Thank you. Bye, bye.Support Greater Than Code