Why I’m Long on Humanity
Inspired by a conversation I’ve had many times, I decided to put it in writing.
In the stock market, “going long” on a stock means you believe in the company and believe their stock will go up. For example, Warren Buffet went long on Apple when he recently doubled his share of Apple- a position worth $17 Billion.
In talking with people inside and outside of the technology industry I commonly hear people saying the world is slowing down, innovation is decelerating and we are all doomed. I am long on Humanity and will explain why below.
I. The Internet
The biggest reason I am long on Humanity is this thing called the “internet”.
I studied Insurance and Finance at a state school in NC. After graduation I decided the cubicle life was not for me, so I taught myself how to code. With a lot of YouTube videos (shoutout Siraj, the least boring teacher of all time), many deprecated Medium tutorials, O’Reilly 10 day textbook free trials (Pro Tip- free trials never end if you keep making up new emails) and a little help from one interesting friend. I learned the basics and am now working on pretty advanced stuff like machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed” -Andrew Ng
But let’s think about this for a second. I am learning and applying cutting edge technology, without paying for anything other than an internet connection. The value of the internet is infinite. Never before in history has an average joe had access to such an incredible source of information. The internet is the ultimate democratizer. I can learn, read, and absorb anything from building a rocket to diagnosing cancer more accurately than any doctor.
Which leads me to the next reason.
II. Machine Learning
No, not robots taking over the world. And yes I know you cannot teach computers true consciousness.
Until now, research and discoveries have merely been accidents. From the chocolate chip cookie to Penicillin and the Pacemaker. With machine learning we now have the ability to deliberately search for solutions and solve real problems.
Machine Learning is also leading to incredible advances like:
Self-Driving and Electric Cars
Imagine how much stress, in aggregate, would be eliminated by never having to drive, except for pleasure. Like many rappers say “Uber Everywhere.” And the number of saved lives, because we all know humans are terrible drivers because Automobile Accidents account for 1.3 million deaths/year. And as a by-product how many more parks and less parking lots we will have because your ride picks you up and drops you off.
Machine learning is already diagnosing cancer and personalizing medicine. Doctors will now be able to read your health history and make data-driven decisions, instead of the outdated “guess-and-check” method. Machine Learning applications stand to have a significant impact on the drug industry because you can simulate drug effects and synthesize drugs via software. Not to mention, soon, every person on the planet will have access to a smartphone and with it access to the internet and telemedicine.
When everyone has a super computer in their pocket, the cycle of poverty can be eradicated. New economies can be formed. People can become educated. People can stand up to injustice. People can trade goods and services. And most importantly people can trade intangible goods and services that do not require any natural resources. People can start a business and support themselves with no upfront costs. In a world when the only thing more powerful than money and political influence is knowledge, soon everyone will have access to unlimited information.
III. Global Quality of Life is Skyrocketing
Poverty Rates are Plummeting
Child Mortality Rates are Plummeting
Illiteracy Rates are Plummeting
Notice how most of these graphs start to accelerate progress just in the last 50 years. It’s reassuring that the man with the largest wallet on earth also comes with an enormous heart. For proof just look at Bill Gates’ Twitter. Think of human progress on a spectrum. The lower, less fortunate and poor ends are being pushed forward as seen by the graphs above. And the most advanced cutting edge are also being pushed forward. So the entire graph is being pushed towards a higher and higher quality of life at an accelerated rate.
To test the accelerated rate of progress on yourself think about cars. I think we will look back at gas engines as an incredibly primitive invention. Think for a second how it works. We go (sometimes aimlessly) digging to find oil reserves. Then we use machines (run on gas) to get oil out of the ground. Then we drive it to a refinery. Then we drive it to the gas station. Then we put it in our cars and it runs out in a week of moderate use. All while polluting Earth. And in a decade or less we have to buy a whole new car again. It’s not nearly as fast as electric cars or efficient. Imagine your car getting a software update like your phone. Bam! Better mileage. Cooler features. Beefed-up safety. Faster acceleration.
Why This All Matters
Humanity is at the beginning of an exponential curve. Since our inception, inventions and discoveries have been for the most part random and marginally more beneficial.
Similar to our viewpoint on history today, I believe we will look back on the next 50 years and be dumbfounded at the progress. In a 100 year-old grandparent’s lifetime, they have seen two global financial meltdowns, Women’s Suffrage, abolition of Segregation, nuclear war, a black President, a Woman presidential candidate, autonomous test-cars, a tiny device that fits in your pocket and gives you access to infinite knowledge, packages delivered by drone, and space travel. At an exponential rate of progress, imagine the possibilities. Space mining? Solar/renewable energy? Human Head Transplants? Brain Implants? Computers giving us answers to our problems?
And For these reasons I am long on Humanity.
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