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Technology prophet George Gilder believes Silicon Valley’s innovations benefit only a select few.
The technology prophet on Bell’s Law and Google. Plus: Utah’s charitable chemical king.
Is progress in technology accelerating or decelerating?
It is not accelerating. It’s continuing to advance, of course, but I completely agree with Peter Thiel that technology progress is not inevitable.
What do you mean by that?
Recall Margaret Mead’s story of mariner tribes that once made their living building streamlined canoes to catch fish in huge volumes. Over time, they just forgot how to make the canoes. When Mead found them, they were sitting on the beaches looking at the oceans with no idea that canoes were the solution to their food shortage.
But in our day, learning is stored forever on billions of devices. It’s not going to disappear.
We’re actually at risk of this kind of amnesia. We forget the real entrepreneurial sources of creativity and progress: invention, summed up in technological progress. It’s not good to have most of the stock market advance [coming from] five companies, which buy back their own stock and buy up the shares of their rivals. I’m talking about Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon.
How does big tech’s success hurt innovation?
Their success does not represent some fundamental change in technology. It reflects, rather, a vast enlargement of government regulations, rules that really favor big companies. It reflects their capability of lobbying and lawyering and litigating and finding a path through the mazes of rules.
Your next book is called Life After Google. Why that title?
I’m convinced the Google paradigm of massive data centers and artificial-intelligence determinism will be transcended in the next era.
Replaced by . . . ?
I’ll refer you to Gordon Bell’s law: Every ten years, the rate of progress predicted by Moore’s Law produces a hundredfold rise in computer cost effectiveness. Which then requires a completely new computer architecture.
Your point being that we’re now past the ten-year point of Bell’s Law and the cloud.
And lo and behold, a new architecture is arising. It will solve the increasing concentration problem of the internet, which is porous security. It will be millions of small data centers around the world, many of them mobile, all using cryptography and a new computer architecture based on blockchains and other inventions.
Why would Google not see this?
Google is trapped by its own illusion. The advances in machine learning that Google trumpets and preens about are really just advances in the speed of processing. When their Go-playing computer can play more Go games in a minute than the whole human race has played through all history, that’s not a great advance in intelligence. It’s the same intelligence just accelerated to terahertz speeds. And this creates this illusion for Google and others that machine learning can somehow gain consciousness and usurp humans.
Artificial intelligence evokes both excitement and fear. Elon Musk, for one, is fearful.
Musk is a tremendous entrepreneur and a quite stale thinker. When he starts pretending that he’s an ethical visionary, that human life is just a simulation in a smarter species’ game . . .
A rather demoralizing view of humanity.
It’s really nuts. It’s clinically crazy. Silicon Valley should stop trying to make human beings obsolete and figure out how to make them more productive again.