Building a future for Appalachia that’s worthy of its past.
Hillary Clinton

The World Is Changing

Secretary Clinton,

Thank you for your thoughtful essay. You are posing important questions — perhaps the ones that will most define the legacy of your generation and mine.

I want to share some thoughts on this subject.

The world is changing. Algorithm-based decisions, “latent capacity utilization”, artificial intelligence, driverless cars (and trucks), 3D printers, virtual reality, online universities and other technology will change how we interact with each other and the world, what jobs we can get paid to do and who has wealth and power.

There just won’t be manufacturing jobs to “bring back”. There won’t be jobs for drivers. I would argue that most of our “stable industries” are based on old and soon to be outdated paradigms. Why have 10+ car companies (and their supply chain, etc) if nobody will own cars in the future?

Nobody can bring us back in time and put the genie back in the bottle. All of these, especially combined with the instability in many parts of the world and the rampant impact of climate change, create an opportunity for us to get it right and embrace our real potential or to sit idly by as wealth disparity grows to epic proportions, as huge swaths of the population are left out and as we self-destruct.

The question that we have to answer for our children and grandchildren is what type of world do we want them to live in. Does technology capture and expose our inner goodness or something else?

Do Travis and Elon (for example) lead us to a land of plenty and security or a land of extraordinary wealth for a few and nothing for the rest?

Government won’t and shouldn’t answer all of these questions. But, our government leaders should help us imagine, quantify and realize a beautiful future.

I sincerely believe you are eminently more qualified and capable than our alternative.

What I ask of you in the next couple months are 3 things:

  • Reframe the choice as being about a vision of the future (that acknowledges what is changing with technology)
  • Among Trump’s many weaknesses and flaws, the most striking and significant to me is that he has largely failed to deliver good returns to people who have invested in him (i.e. the losses from failed ventures, students/customers of his products, bankruptcies, etc). Please hold him accountable for his many failures to deliver value to his investors and customers. His personal wealth (which is highly contested) is the wrong metric
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation American immigrants are in many ways the best among us. Immigration should not be a place for defensive positioning. Like a business, an athletic team or a university, we want to attract and retain the very best people and talent from around the world. Our ability to do this is our biggest strength and our future. It’s who we are. Please help change this narrative

Thank you for your lifelong commitment to a better world.

Here is an article I wrote that explores the implications of one of these technology changes — self driving vehicles: