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Adam Mash and Dan Kahan explore the potential for technology disruption in energy, transportation, food, and labor AI, and how this could lead to global prosperity and reduced environmental impact. They discuss the risks associated with these disruptions, such as job loss, and the need for governments to intervene in order to manage the changes responsibly. Universal Basic Income and Universal Basic Services are proposed as a way to support those affected by job redundancies. The potential for a Cambrian explosion of jobs is also discussed, requiring a shift in values and a North Star to guide the transition.

Short Summary

The speaker suggests that a shift in perspective from pessimism to optimism is necessary to solve environmental problems such as climate change. He encourages looking for solutions through innovation and new knowledge, rather than sacrificing human prosperity. RethinkX has identified three major technology disruptions to transform the global economy and civilization over the next two decades: energy, transportation and food. Disruptions occur when new technologies offer far more value than older ones, leading to the expansion of the market, industry or sector.
The transcript and slides discuss the pattern of new technologies growing and old technologies collapsing seen across multiple industries and technologies over 10-20 years, as well as the potential for disruption in the energy, transportation and food sectors due to falling costs and exponential adoption of new technologies. They also discuss the environmental benefits of disrupting these industries with clean technology, such as the potential to free up 2.5 billion hectares of land and offset the remaining 10% of the carbon footprint. There is a risk of concentrating food production into a smaller land mass, but this could be mitigated.
Adam Mash explores how three disruptions in technology and food production—cheap, clean energy; transportation; and food—can create an explosion of global prosperity while reducing environmental impact. He also mentions a fourth disruption, the disruption of human labor by artificial intelligence and automation, which he believes could be what allows humanity to reach prosperity escape velocity. However, there are risks associated with these disruptions, such as job loss and the potential for monopolies to emerge. We must be prepared to manage these disruptions and not be callous to those affected in order to ensure a prosperous and sustainable future.
Adam suggests that the best way to prepare for disruption is to start experimenting and learning. He believes that the potential for clean abundance and prosperity is optimistic, but governments must be careful not to intervene too much to prevent markets from responding to price signals. Governments can massage the flow of technological advancement, but powerful industries can still collapse if investors leave. He also questions why the efficient market hypothesis does not reflect the publicly available information on disruption and suggests that government intervention and intellectual property law could lead to better outcomes. AI disruption is seen to be on par with nuclear weapons in terms of potential impact.
The speaker discusses the disruption in markets caused by investment in clean energy technology, and how investment in coal is no longer being made based on the illusion of growth. They then explore the possible implications of the fourth disruption, labor AI, which threatens everyone's job and breaks the rules. This could require a shift in economic thought, including better wealth distribution and ownership of assets, such as land claims and reducing inefficiency and bureaucracy in the modern economy.
The conversation discusses the implications of a more automated economy and the potential for jobs to be replaced by AI. Adam and Dan discussed the idea of a Cambrian explosion of jobs, which would require a shift in values and a North Star to guide the transition. Universal Basic Income and Universal Basic Services are suggested as a way to support those affected by job redundancies. Jobs are defined by providing value to society, and it is difficult to measure how much of a person's job is spent defending their position versus delivering value. Companies can improve workflow engineering by automating processes, but often lack the motivation to do so.

Long Summary

Modern environmentalism is characterised by pessimism because up until now, solutions to major environmental problems like climate change were seen as causing huge losses in human prosperity and quality of life. In his new book, the speaker suggests that a more optimistic vision is possible, and outlines how disruption can lead to a brighter future. He encourages a shift in perspective from pessimism to optimism and suggests ways to think differently about the future and our relationship with the natural world.
The modern environmental movement is pessimistic, believing that human prosperity and sustainability cannot coexist. They assume that the only way to achieve sustainability is to sacrifice prosperity and downgrade quality of life. This assumption is false and potentially dangerous, as it implies that all human progress up until now has been for nothing. Climate change and other environmental problems are seen as catastrophic and potentially existential risks. Instead of sacrificing prosperity, we should look for solutions through innovation, new knowledge, ideas, science, and technology.
The environmental movement has every right to be skeptical of blind faith in the power of innovation, given the ecological damage caused by humanity. There is more at stake than a debate about oil, and what is needed is evidence and understanding of how new ideas, technology, and tools can solve specific environmental problems, namely climate change. There is a danger of a pessimistic defeatist attitude leading to destructive and populist reactions, and it would be a tragedy if any of these dangers were realized on the cusp of breakthroughs into a brighter future.
RethinkX has identified three major technology disruptions that will transform fundamental sectors of the global economy and civilization over the next two decades: energy, transportation, and food. This follows the disruption of the information and communications sector by the internet and digital technologies in the last 30 years, which quickly changed the world and created millions of new businesses and trillions of dollars of new economic value. However, some of the problems that this disruption caused were difficult to anticipate.
The disruption of energy, transportation, and food are all set to have a profound impact on human civilization, comparable in scale and impact to the disruption of information and communications technology. Disruptions occur when new technologies offer far more value than older technologies, growing exponentially at first before eventually becoming the new normal. This disruption leads to the expansion of the market, industry, or sector, as new applications, use cases, and business models emerge.
The transcript discusses the pattern of new technologies growing and old technologies collapsing as a reflection, which is seen across industries and technologies over a period of 10-20 years. It is seen in examples such as carpenters nails, car tires and digital cameras. It is expected that transportation and food will become textbook cases of disruption. The costs of solar, wind and battery technology are declining consistently and predictably over time, likely due to economies of scale and other learnings.
The slides show a consistent pattern of falling costs and exponential adoption of technologies such as solar, wind and batteries, electric vehicles and batteries, precision fermentation and cellular agriculture. These technologies offer greater efficiencies in terms of feedstock input, energy, water and land than animal agriculture does. As the technologies become cheaper, they can become more widely deployed into more markets. Autonomous driving technology is expected to drive the adoption of electric vehicles over the 2020s. Finally, the cost of precision fermentation and cellular agriculture has dropped enough to make them viable for food markets.
The data suggests that disruption in the energy, transportation, and food sectors is imminent and likely to follow the same pattern as other disruptions in the past. By the mid to late 2030s, these sectors are likely to experience a better quality product at a fraction of the cost. The same objections that were present in the early 1990s, such as the need for infrastructure and the cost of scaling, are still present, but the processes are not linear. The data provides compelling evidence that the disruption of these sectors is imminent.
The transcript discusses the environmental implications of energy, transportation and food, which together account for 90% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Disrupting these industries with clean technology could eliminate most of these emissions. Additionally, the food disruption will free up an area of land worldwide that is 2.5 billion hectares, which is the size of the United States, China, and Australia combined. This is because agriculture represents 97% of all human land use, and over half of that is for animals. This land could be used for other purposes if animal agriculture were disrupted.
The potential of using new technologies such as precision fermentation to reduce animal agriculture and free up land could have a huge impact on the environment. It is estimated that 80% of the land currently used to support animals could be reclaimed, and if left fallow, could offset the remaining 10% of the carbon footprint and take us to Net Zero. There is also potential for reforestation and ecological restoration of the freed up land, which could further accelerate carbon uptake. There is a risk of concentrating food production into a smaller land mass, but this could be mitigated by ensuring that the land is still large and distributed enough.
The three disruptions discussed are factory production, precision fermentation, and energy. Factory production will be smaller than a farm and could have security risks, but precision fermentation can be done anywhere and could help produce food where it is consumed. Energy disruption has the potential to clean up its sector, but when all three are put together, they could have even greater implications and help reduce the environmental footprint.
Transportation, energy and food are three major disruptions that have the potential to create an explosion of global prosperity while reducing environmental impact. These disruptions feed into each other, amplifying and accelerating one another, and when they become cheaper and cleaner, everything else does too. This could lead to a paradigm shift and break down barriers for human development, although there will still be challenges to address with equity and fairness.
The disruptions in technology and food production open the door to abundance and prosperity, allowing us to not only stop harming the planet but to heal it. This is made possible by the wealth enabled by these disruptions, allowing people everywhere to afford to care and act on environmental concerns. This is an encouraging prospect, as it gives us the means and place to undertake massive ecological restoration. The thesis of the book is that our best way to solve environmental problems is through prosperity and progress.
Adam Mash is excited to offer a data-driven explanation of how society can achieve prosperity through three disruptions: cheap, clean energy; transportation; and food. He also mentions a fourth disruption, the disruption of human labor by artificial intelligence and automation, which he believes could be what allows humanity to reach prosperity escape velocity. He encourages optimism for the future of the environment, as these disruptions could provide numerous potential benefits, as well as risks and hazards.
The risks of AI and other disruptive technologies, such as energy, can vary. In the energy sector, there is a potential risk of an individual company or nation controlling the global supply of a breakthrough, such as batteries. However, solar and wind are encouraging in that they work at all scales, from small to large, and can promote decentralization and democratization. The main risk in any sector is the potential for job loss and industries dependent upon the disrupted sector.
The energy status quo is being threatened, and the negative impacts to millions of people, jobs, and entire nations cannot be ignored. We must find a way to manage the transformation without bailing out Executives or shareholders, and look out for the people and publics affected. In Russia, the future is bleak due to its dependence on fossil fuels. In transportation, truck and taxi drivers may be out of work. In food, consolidation of power is a risk if monopolies emerge around key pieces of intellectual property. We must be prepared to manage these disruptions and not be callous to those affected.
New services and goods have created lots of value, but control is concentrated in the hands of a few giant corporations. If policy makers are not informed and the public does not push for policy changes, then we risk falling into the same trap as in the past. Food technology could have a parallel trajectory in the future, and this could lead to a large ecosystem of companies with less consolidated control and power. The stakes are higher in the food disruption, as farms are tied to history, culture and livelihood, and the loss of land is a different set of impacts than just not having a job. Policy makers need to be prepared to address this disruption.
The founders of Rethink X have recently published a book that examines the potential social and institutional responses to the disruptions that new technologies will bring. The authors suggest that a renegotiation of the general social contract is necessary, such as a universal basic income. AI poses an even greater challenge, as a substantial fraction of human labor could be replaced. There is a need to find answers to these open questions through experimentation and piloting, and to find a way to manage the various risks and pitfalls. Ideas for what the response should be are welcome.
Adam is skeptical that a simple sweeping solution will work for the current disruption. He advises that the best way to prepare is to start experimenting and learning. He believes that the basis for optimism is the potential for clean abundance and prosperity, but how to avail ourselves of it is an open question. He believes that markets need to be free to respond to price signals, and that government intervention can affect the ability for the disruption to truly happen.
Technology advances are unstoppable and no government can completely stop them. Different disruptions have been accelerated or delayed by governments, such as Computing during wartime and investment in solar panels in China and the US. However, powerful industries such as oil and gas and coal can still collapse if investors jump ship due to lack of growth prospects. Governments can only massage the flow of technological advancement, not stop it, and it does not take long for an industry to enter a death spiral if investors leave.
The speaker discusses potential risks of government intervention in the disruption of energy, transportation, and food. He also mentions the potential risks of AI disruption, which he believes is on par with nuclear weapons in terms of potential impact. He states that government intervention and smart intellectual property law could lead to better outcomes, but if this cannot be coordinated globally, an arms race dynamic is inevitable. He also questions why the efficient market hypothesis does not reflect the fact that these disruptions are publicly available and known by other market participants.
There is evidence of disruption in the markets, particularly in the form of investment in clean energy technology, which is now approaching the trillion dollar mark annually. This is often supported by public money and alongside this, there are hundreds of startups in the food sector, investing tens of billions of dollars. The status quo is an attractor basin, meaning prices are pulled towards it, even if the dynamics are shifting. This suggests a level of denialism, but the amount of investment is a key leading indicator.
Investment in coal is no longer being made based on the illusion of growth, but investors can still make a lot of money through unsustainable modes of operation. This is referred to as 'rundown mode', and involves minimal investment and upkeep of equipment, divestment from vulnerable holdings, and the offloading of subsidiaries onto unsuspecting pension funds. During this phase, there is an incentive to maintain the illusion that everything is fine, and this pattern is likely to be seen in other industries, such as animal farming.
The conventional auto industry is likely to still have combustion engine Toyota Corollas in 15 years, as there is a pull towards the status quo. The fourth disruption, labor AI, is different, as it threatens everyone's job and breaks the rules. There may be denialism, but a simultaneous political phase transition is needed to protect against the damage AI can cause to our fundamental being.
The transcript discusses how public sentiment and support can quickly pivot away from older technologies when a new option becomes available, and how this is already happening with fossil fuels and combustion engine vehicles. The speaker then questions what a decline in tolerance and support for human labor would look like, as well as what a massive public swing towards AI as a threat to human labor would look like. They suggest that there are existing social contracts built around human labor that would need to be addressed, and mention the anti-work movement and luxury automated communism as schools of thought that touch on this issue.
Displacement of human labor due to the rise of AI will require a shift in economic thought, including better wealth distribution and ownership of assets. Sam Altman proposed granting claims against land to citizens, and there is also an idea of jobs that involves reducing inefficiency and bureaucracy in the modern economy. This could be done by removing unnecessary tasks and creating more meaningful work.
Job creation within large bureaucracies is a way of distributing wealth. AI automation is a potential threat to jobs, but the value that people attach to jobs may be enough to keep up with the technological unemployment. Adam and Dan discussed the idea of a Cambrian explosion of jobs being the most realistic possibility for the future, and Adam encouraged people to join the Disruption Seminar to continue the conversation. Jobs are defined by providing value to society, and it is difficult to define what constitutes a job with no real economic value.
The definition of a job is subjective and can be contentious. It is difficult to measure how much of a person's job is spent defending their position versus delivering value. Keynesian economics is criticised for paying someone to dig a hole and then pay someone else to fill it in, with no real value created. The author of a book defines a job as self-defined, and suggests that many jobs are likely made up of tasks that only require a portion of a human's full-time attention. People in positions of power often create roles to use their budget, and those in the role must then defend their job and prove their utility.
Many of the problems organizations face are coordination problems, and managing people requires a softer approach. Some jobs may not actually be delivering value, but they may provide social stability and a middle class. From an individual's point of view, jobs may be boring and mundane, but they are necessary to complete processes. Companies can improve workflow engineering by automating processes, but often lack the motivation to do so.
Many jobs are becoming automated, such as those involving protocol buffers, SQL, and Excel reports. This provides a second order benefit of helping people move laterally in the job market and also provides the company with a cognitive reservist. However, many jobs are filled by people who are not technologists and the gap between what the development team can do and what is needed is filled by people. This process is repeated for years until the job can be automated.
The conversation discusses the implications of a more automated economy and the need to be kinder to humans. It touches on the idea of Universal Basic Income and Universal Basic Services as a way to support those affected by job redundancies. The end goal is to move away from the idea of jobs and towards a world where people are able to live well without relying on a job. It is suggested that this would require a shift in values and a North Star to guide the transition.
The speaker discusses UBI (Universal Basic Income) as a potential solution to the issue of unequal resource distribution in the economy. They mention the recent mailing of checks in the U.S. during the pandemic as a potential negative evidence against UBI, but also note that it is confounded by too many other factors. They highlight the fact that the U.S. debt may have affected the potential or actual negative impacts of the checks. The speaker also mentions a Star Trek world where money is not an issue and suggests that the idea may have come up due to the dissonance of knowing the resources available but not the proper distribution of them.

Raw Transcript

so anyway thank you thank you it's I'm I'm always inspired and awe um seeing what's being accomplished here and so thank you for letting me just drop in and participate uh willy-nilly it's amazing um so what I'd like to talk about is well I really just wanted to share the thesis of my new book whose cover you can see here brighter uh uh and my hope is that the book and this message can help um you know catalyze a new and more optimistic vision and and conversations about the future of the environment and why as the title of the book suggests uh it is in my view um so much brighter than so many of us realize and so I thought what I would do today uh is start by explaining why I think pessimism is so prevalent and then I I'll talk about why today uh the data together with an understanding of disruption which is what my research has worked on uh tells us a different story and a far more optimistic story um then I'll just uh talk briefly and touch on some high level implications of this shift in perspective from pessimism to optimism um and then I thought I would end by suggesting some ways that we can start to think a little bit differently about the future about the natural world and our relationship with it and open to converse open that to you know a general you know sort of freeform conversation if that sounds like a like a reasonable plan um so all right well let's start with that first part environmentalism today it seems to me certainly to my eye to be characterized overwhelmingly by pessimism and so I think it's reasonable to start by asking why why is that the case and I think in its most fundamental level pessimism is a comp it's a consequence it's a result of of despair of hopelessness in the face of obstacles in the face of problems in the face of challenges it's it's a belief that the future cannot be as good as we wish it as we wish it would be as as we imagine it might be and we can't see how it it's because there appear to be problems that just don't have a viable solution that's my overarching take on it and so in a nutshell modern environmentalism I would uh propose is pessimistic because up until now most of us most environmentalists just haven't been able to see exactly how we can tackle major environmental problems like climate change or at least how we can solve them without also incurring huge and intolerable losses of other kinds in particular losses of human prosperity and quality of life in the process and so modern environmentalism has
therefore you know become mostly a fairly dismal uh uh exercise in you know how do you muster the will to make these Dreadful sacrifices that are necessary to achieve sustainability how do we find a way as individuals or collectively to give up prosperity to see to forego quality of life and Collective um uh prosperity in the name of sustainability and the way the thinking goes obviously is that if we don't make those sacrifices if we don't downgrade if we don't do this now well then the whole system will collapse and not too terribly long from now and that will torpedo all of our prosperity anyway and so that's you know that's obviously what it means to be unsustainable um but there's embedded in that logic there's a clear assumption there's a contingency right that logic is it rests on the assumption that sacrifice that downgrade that that um pivoting from Prosperity or the pursuit of prosperity into austerity is the only way to achieve sustainability it's the only way to uh have even a chance of solving these formidable problems we face and so in other words the modern environmental movement most environmentalists across the planet are pessimistic because we just have a baseline assumption that we can't have human prosperity without also taking an unsustainable toll on the rest of the biosphere so that means that we have this a priori assumption that we can't solve environmental problems with Innovation with new knowledge and ideas with science and technology right that's that's my framing of the set of the of the the Baseline thinking here and I want to stress here at the start that I not only do I I not only do I think that that is a false assumption and I hope to show uh and argue why that's why this is not true but I also want to go a step further and suggest that it's actually this this is a very dangerous idea this is a very dangerous and potentially harmful um assumption and the reason why is that let me take you through the the reasoning the reason why I think it is it has the potential to be very dangerous is that if we recognize climate change and other environment or environmental problems as these you know these catastrophic potentially existential risks to humanity and then we also believe that they can't be solved with progress and prosperity right we hope if we put those two ideas side by side together then The Logical conclusion that follows is that all human progress up until now has been for nothing right that's what follows logically it's
all just been a Faustian bargain so what what the hell was the point of it anyway that's that is is I think that that catastrophic sort of um pessimism that catastrophism directly undermines confidence in the idea of progress itself and that is dangerous I think that's what we're seeing I think we're seeing a strong element a strong um uh uh thread of that now in The Narrative surrounding all of these environmental issues there's a bitter defeatist disillusionment right that's there's this Shadow that's cast over over the whole business and what that does I I'm concerned is that it opens the door to very destructive forms of populism and and other you know reactions to the the institutions and social structures and so on that we have in place imperf imperfect as they are because you know why not smash the system if the future is unavoidably Bleak anyway right why not I think history shows us quite clearly that you know a pessimistic defeatist what have we got to lose kind of mindset has the potential to be extremely dangerous um and of course it would be it would be an incredibly tragic irony um if any of those ideas got put into practice if any of that danger were realized on the cusp of uh you know on the eve of making real breakthroughs into much you know a much brighter future that it's so there would sort of be a terrible tragedy um Twisted on top of that too if any of this Hazard were to be realized or actualized so I want to suggest that there's more at stake here than just a simple debate about oil is that you should you know should you see the glasses half full or half empty based on the evidence that that we perceive um I think there's more at stake here than that fundamentally much much more at stake um okay so in my view what's been desperately needed and missing up until now is the evidence the understanding of exactly how new ideas out of Science and Technology and new tools and so forth can solve specific environmental problems and especially climate change that's the elephant in the room of course because it's not enough to have just blind faith in the power of innovation right given the ecological damage Humanity has has uh caused so far I mean the environmental movement has every reason to be skeptical of any dogmatic claim right about okay well just relax Market forces will automatically incentivize the creation of solutions that you know at the last the 11th hour and in time to prevent catastrophe just relax no that that would be a that would be you know a
pretty blind dogma and and quite rightly open to criticism but that I don't think that's our situation some you know and so they so then reasonable to ask what's changed why why not what's different about my view and this is where our work at my organization at rethink X along with a growing body of other uh researchers around the world have started to you know provide some of the missing pieces of the puzzle here and so that's what I wanted to show uh primarily in these slides is that evidence for how uh progress how Innovation um how Science and Technology really do offer us a an amazing path forward okay so that's what I want to take take us through pretty quickly here it's a fairly standard story that rethink X has been telling for a number of years now and I'll I'll try to go through it uh fairly quickly um but the basic the gist of it is that we are presently on the cusp of three major technology disruptions that are all going to unfold simultaneously over the next two decades and that these disruptions will completely transform fundamental sectors pillars of the global economy and of civilization itself and the three that I'm talking about are energy transportation and food now just recall it's worth keeping in mind that we've just lived through the disruption of a fundamental sector a pillar of the economy and civilization we've just lived through the disruption of information and Communications by the internet and digital and related digital Technologies right so 30 years ago 1992 uh for all practical purposes outside a handful of government and academic networks and Labs there was no internet there was no digital media no websites no email no digital cameras no digital music no digital video nothing Ordinary People had never seen it never experienced it had no engagement or interaction with those Technologies whatsoever they they just didn't exist for most almost everybody in 1992. and yet 15 years later we had the first iPhone right so it did not take very long for that disruption to change the world very literally change the world and it shocked most observers how quickly it did so it infected virtually every industry across the planet it transformed the global economy it created millions of new businesses across hundreds of Industries and trillions of dollars of New Economic value and of course along the way created problems we're we're seeing those um now uh and have along the way some of those problems were very difficult to anticipate ahead of time right like the
downsides of social media for example but there's no question that the disruption happened swiftly and had a profound impact on human civilization uh so what what I'm I want my research points to and what I will argue is that the disruption of energy and the disruption of transportation and the disruption of food each will be comparable in scale and impact to what we've just seen happen to the into information in Communications and so each one of those on its own would be world changing but all three at the same time coming on the heels of of another one is just it's just it it to my to my knowledge it's unprecedented in human history Okay so this is where this is all to make emphasize the point that we're at an extraordinary turning point we're an extraordinary moment historically so very quickly what are disruptions well that's this first slide here um and it's uh A disruption occurs when one or more new technologies emerge that offer far more value than older Technologies do so they're either much cheaper at the same level of quality or they're much higher quality at the same price or some combination and not just a little bit better not just a marginal Improvement but a very substantial step change Improvement 3 5 10 20 100 times better value for money or value in some in in in in in some way and the result is that these new technologies are overwhelmingly competitive and then the raw economic incentive leaves do leads to them being very very rapidly adopted so the new technologies grow explosively at first and so the beginning of of the trajectory of their trajectory looks exponential um and at the same time that that happens the old Technologies are being out competed and wiped out and they collapse and the industries around them collapse now eventually adoption of the new technology slows down as the as it approaches saturation and it then becomes the new normal and Waits For Itself to be disrupted at some point in the future so in the process the market or segment or industry or the sector disruptions could happen at different scales um uh whatever whatever scale it happens the system that's involved whether it's this individual Market or an industry or the entire sector it tends to expand it tends to grow as a result of disruption and that's probably because you know just if technology offers more affordable and more capable um uh uh more more affordability and more capability then it stands to reason there will be new applications that emerge new use cases new business models
that are supported and so on so the idea that that disruptions also expand and grow um the sort of the opportunity space around uh technology is that seems to make some sense and we see that again and again now the next set slide over um it just shows examples and these you can go up and have a close look but the the the point here is not the data that's on those slides or even the specific industries that the point here is just to show that the same fundamental pattern of a new technology growing tracing uh an s-shaped curve accelerating at first and then decelerating uh overlapped with the old technology collapsing as a mirror sort of a reflection um that this is a pattern that we see again and again throughout history across industries of all kinds for Technologies of all different kinds so from Carpenters nails to car tires to digital cameras it's the same pattern again and again and again um in the same time scale these things don't happen slowly over 50 or 100 years and take Generations they they you know the the examples uh whether it's a new you know a new a new breed of corn or a new kind of um uh or break on a car like car brakes drum brakes versus other kinds of brakes or whether it's uh uh digital technology or whether it's Pharmaceuticals it's it's we see the same thing again and again and again the pattern unfolds typically over just uh 10 to 20 years almost never more than 20 years rarely less than 10 years and so today we have every reason to expect transportation and food will be come textbook cases of disruption and so that's what the series of the next slides shows um it shows uh how in energy we have three Technologies we have solar and wind and batteries and in each of those cases the costs of the technology are declining consistently and predictably over time uh those those uh this the y-axis happens to be you know log axis it's a log scale so it's it's a consistent Trend that you can um you can visualize as a straight line if you're um if you're plotting the data on a log scale but nevertheless the consistency is there and it's it's it's it's it's startling how consistent it is probably the consistency is mostly to do with scaling so as these industries scale up and deploy the technology uh and the manufacturing methods are refined and the supply chains are economized and so forth you get economies of scale and other learnings which are um uh which together amounts to an experience curve and so what we're seeing here are consistent Trends on an
experience curve for these Technologies and then accompanying or alongside you know this this very uh predictable cost trajectory are an exponential adoption trajectory is that on the other opposite me uh fancy here that's wind and batteries is it down here probably down here somewhere anyway the the slides basically all the slides show on these charts is the same pattern again and again and again that for each of the Technologies involved the costs are falling consistently and the adoption is growing for now exponentially because we are in the first portion of the s-shaped trajectory of the of the disruption in energy uh it's solar wind and batteries in transportation it's electric vehicles and batteries the same batteries by the way so there's a Synergy there in transportation we're not quite there yet but we'll probably see uh uh some explosive growth in autonomous driving technology over the course of this decade over the 2020s and that will turbocharge the the adoption of electric vehicles um because Robo you know self-driving vehicles that are electric make much more sense than than ones that um are combustion engine based and in food it's the same story again uh robot Roblox didn't like my slides with the food data um because there were pictures of pharmaceutical files on them it was just pictures of insulin but apparently that looks too much like drugs and so they didn't make it pass the filter into Roblox so those are those slides aren't here but it's the same pattern right price falling consistently over time um as the technology become cheaper and cheaper uh they they can become Deployable into more and more markets so at first the two technologies Precision fermentation and cellular agriculture uh could only support Pharmaceuticals where you know it was okay for something to cost a million dollars a kilogram because you only needed very very small quantities of it uh but that won't do for food the technology has to become many many orders of magnitude cheaper before food markets open up but now we're finally there so with Precision fermentation that makes fats and proteins and other molecules from microbes and cellular agriculture makes animal products from animal cells without growing the entire animal the lab-grown meat and and leather and so forth in both cases those new technologies they enjoy massively greater efficiencies then animal agriculture does so um you know in terms of feedstock input and energy and water inputs and the land required especially the land required
and so that puts the new food Technologies onto a clear path like the new Energy Technologies like the new um electric vehicles in the in transportation to being much cheaper and therefore much much more competitive and and compelling as a value proposition than the old Technologies are in this case livestock traditional livestock and Seafood um if you can get a an indistinguishable or better product for the same or a lower price it it you know the the transformation uh is all but inevitable okay so in each of these three sectors energy transportation and food that my team has analyzed um we see this pattern better quality at a fraction of the cost and it looks like disruption is inevitable and the trends and trajectories are all there they're all aligned um uh so we can see this coming we know that they've begun and following those curves out to their conclusions it looks like the disruptions will be complete by the mid to late 2030s in all three of those sectors we have every reason to believe that they will adhere to the historical pattern rather than deviate from the historical pattern um despite all of the naysay right I mean that people in in the early 1990s you know it was all the same stuff all the same objections oh this new technology this newfangled internet stuff is great but how will we ever build enough infrastructure how are we ever going to lay enough cable or even manufacture enough cable how is everybody going to have a a computer you know it's just the scaling that's required the investment that's required it's way too much it's going to take 100 years and it just it it uh this is linear thinking and the processes are not linear um okay so that is the the data and the historical basis for uh just to comment Adam that the sure the graphs for wind battery and solar uh sort of behind you on the other side of this oh they're behind me I see that's where yeah okay it's not not very obvious I'm afraid yeah but there they are that's okay and they can be later uh uh I don't don't we don't need to dwell on on we don't need to dwell on the specifics of the data it's enough to Simply recognize that the data provide evidence that supports the case very very compelling in my mind evidence that supports the case supports the argument that uh the disruption of energy transportation and food are imminent and they are likely to unfold just as we've seen so many others unfold in the past over the next 15 to 20 years um and that they uh in this case they will be
extraordinary in their environmental implications so let me talk about those first um energy transportation and food together account for ninety percent of global greenhouse gas emissions 90 percent so disrupting those Industries with clean technology that's cheaper than fossil fuels and animal agriculture will directly directly eliminate most of those emissions right so if we stop burning fossil fuels for electricity Heating and if we stop burning them in road vehicles that's 75 percent of emissions worldwide gone right there if we stop eating animals uh or rather if we stop eating animal products from animals then that's the other 15 percent um okay well that's that's the first pretty big implication right second uh and really very exciting and not intuitive at all not obvious at all is that the food disruption in particular will free up an absolutely enormous area of land worldwide so uh when we run the numbers it's 2.5 billion hectares of land freed up from animal agriculture so that is an area and there's a graph one of the slides down on the far end shows it that's an area the size of the United States and China and Australia combined those three you know essentially Continental land masses it's very easy to forget take a look at yeah sure we can go down and have a look yeah I mean it's really easy to do it's very easy to forget that agriculture as a whole represents more than 97 of all human land use right everything else together all Urban and Suburban land all roads and Railways and airports and infrastructure all mines all parks and golf courses all that other stuff three percent it's not quite a rounding error but it's pretty close right so 97 percent is is agriculture and over half of that is for animals are you talking about U.S so that's world one no that's the world that's the world so of the land that human beings use and we don't use every you know scrap of land on the planet deserts and beaches and so forth or even certain forests and the ice caps and so forth you can exclude in the glaciers you can exclude from this from these numbers but of the land that we use virtually all of it is for agriculture and uh so when you when you look at this uh it's crazy that the amount of land that the food disruption will free up from animal Agriculture and by animal agriculture I mean the pasture the grazing land and the uh the cropland used to grow feed for animals when you put all of that land together well today that's 30 times more land than all of the other built environment
land use combined it's totally mind-blowing right and um we were we are probably going to get back about 80 percent of the land that's currently devoted to uh supporting animals we're not going to get back all of it because you know we will have to use some of that land to produce the inputs for the new technologies but they are they're at least 80 percent more efficient and so we're likely to get a very large chunk of that land back so then it's it's amazing to start thinking about what an opportunity uh that presents for conservation for preservation for rewilding landscapes for reforestation that will sequester carbon right I mean just my in the report that we wrote we did ran the numbers for just leaving the land fallow and doing nothing with it not active reforestation or trying to you know do the most carbon sequestration sequestration just what happens to land if you just stop farming and let it let it alone and it turns out that um you know the scale of of the the amount of landscape we're talking about is so large that just leaving the freed up land fallow and doing nothing with it would uh offset the remaining 10 carbon footprint and take us to Net Zero more than that actually so and we we can of course accelerate carbon uptake for if we chose to with active reforestation and active ecological restoration on some of the the land that's freed up from from animal agriculture so this is this is astonishing this is absolutely astounding and um you know I don't know I'm I'm sort of surprised it's not just the only thing that environmentalists talk about but it seems to be you know still quite um uh uh quite an unspoken um an undiscussed topic which which which uh uh you know can I ask a question here I don't know what to read into that but anyways it's I'm discouraged that it's this isn't at the Forefront of every environmentalist's thinking and attention yeah go ahead and ask a question uh well maybe I'll uh put Matt's question to hit him on so he says is there a security risk in concentrating food production into a much smaller land mass uh whereas the 20 that will be used still large and distributed enough to be infeasible I mean it could easily concentrate the I mean Precision fermentation could easily concentrate the production of food even more intensely than it already is right yeah I mean that is a very good question it's a it's a great observation um in in some ways it would concentrate production it would concentrate it at the at the facility level of analysis right so so a
factory production facility would be smaller than a farm or a a large grazing land or pasture um so in that sense there would be greater concentration and there could be security risks associated with that um on the other hand on the other hand at a larger Geographic unit of analysis Precision fermentation can be done anywhere and is not as as regionally constrained and so you could do uh you could produce food where it is consumed much more easily with Precision fermentation for example um just just having you know a stock of durable feed feedstock inputs right you just have you know you could have silos of sugar or or whatever else or your inputs into your processes and those could be located anywhere and then you would not be dependent upon farming regions or other nations for example um in the same way and depending upon their Agriculture and uh you know agriculture is a volatile you know from year to year volatile Enterprise the best of times and so um if you are our nation that is is that does not grow its own food today you could these new technologies are almost certainly going to alleviate rather than exacerbate security risks and um and level the playing field and and be a force for decentralization and democratization and Equity as opposed to um centralized causing risk and vulnerability but it's interesting you know it's like anything it's not purely black and white there's there's sort of I think a mix of of push and pull there um yeah I mean it's a good question um okay so so so uh just just quickly to wrap up on the on the land that that's really it's it's it's it's amazingly mind-blowing but don't forget about the oceans right we're clobbering them as well and seafood is not going to escape disruption um uh so the the potential benefits to the world's oceans when we stop strip mining them with millions of fishing vessels will be uh amazing as well so that's potentially fantastic news for aquatic marine ecosystems and that's the three disruptions that my team has looked at and we have every reason again as I said to expect them to unfold uh following the same pattern we've seen throughout history so all this brings me to uh sort of the closing things I wanted to talk about which were these very high level implications that that come out of this um on their own each of these disruptions would clean up their sector and it's you know its footprint quite a bit that's immensely exciting um but some real magic also happens when we put them together right so energy
transportation and food are foundational they they impacts changes in those sectors they they reverberate they affect everything else across civilizations energy goes into everything right its energy is an input into almost every link of every supply chain same with transportation to a less extent perhaps with food although you do have to feed everyone who works in every industry because they all have to eat so so uh the upshot here quite extraordinary is that when energy gets cheaper everything gets cheaper and when energy gets cleaner everything everything under this you know everything in Civilization gets clean it gets cleaner and by the same token is true for transportation food too Transportation gets cheaper everything else does transportation gets cleaner everything else does and um perhaps to a lesser degree food as well so that's pretty that's pretty amazing we're talking about three disruptions that have the potential to uh to foster a level of material abundance at the same time as really cleaning up uh a major portions of their dirty uh environmental footprint okay um so there are a few implications or or a few things to follow on from this a few pieces of of uh a few conclusions that we can draw the first one is that the disruptions feed into each other they amplify and accelerate one another right you need energy to grow food and you you know Transportation utilizes energy and so forth so uh because we've got three disruptions simultaneously and because they are sort of catalyzing and accelerating one another they are going to unfold even faster than they otherwise would which is crazy to think about and then they would uh if they were on their own second um it's very exciting to think that we can reduce our environmental impact while at the same time not just retaining but expanding human Prosperity as everything gets cheaper and cleaner that's really extraordinary that's a fundamental uh paradigm shift um uh we've seen throughout history also that wherever energy and mobility and food are abundant Prosperity follows so there's every reason to expect that these disruptions will create an explosion of global prosperity and and do a great deal to to break down barriers that currently exist for human development now that's not to say that everything will you know proceed perfectly equally equally that there will no longer be disparity or or problems with equity and fairness and Justice across the planet of course we will still have a massive challenges to
deal with there but but um these Technologies open the door clearly open the door to um to Prosperity via abundance and that is a very encouraging and exciting prospect especially if that's all possible without taking a terrible toll on the environment Okay the third uh very high level and and overarching implication that's exciting here is that all of the prosperity that's enabled by these disruptions so all of the abundance and all the prosperity that are that are facilitated by these new technologies will allow us to do more than just stop harming the planet right so so far that's where most environmentalists thinking has has been stuck is we just need to stop hurting the planet yes of course that's true but that's only the first step we also need to heal the planet to repair the damage we've already done and that is massively more feasible with prosperity than it is amidst privation and austerity and so these disruptions by making environmental restoration more affordable and more politically feasible amidst uh prosperity that's super exciting all right I mean after all it's much easier to care about the environment when you're rich than when you're poor wealthy Nations protect their environment in their own backyards because they can afford to well the disruptions open the door to everybody everywhere being almost everybody almost everywhere being able to afford to care and to act on environmental concerns um so that is extremely extremely encouraging the idea that and combined with the opportunity that literally the land area opportunity afforded by the food disruption it's pretty extraordinary we would have both the means and the the place to undertake massive ecological restoration if we chose to and um just the fact that this Choice might emerge is beyond the wildest daring imagination of most environmental uh discourse that I've seen up and up until very very recently so the the prospects uh ahead of us are much more encouraging and exciting than than I think um we've dared to to Hope um in the past as environmentalists so that's enormously encouraging okay uh so to wrap up very quickly the thesis of the book of uh and of my work in general with rethink X is that our best and really our only plausible way to solve these formidable environmental problems we face is with prosperity is with progress and prosperity and um honestly this shouldn't come as a surprise right I mean it's it's how we have solved virtually all other problems Great and Small individual and Collective
throughout human history right I mean it's much easier to solve your own problems or society's problems amidst Prosperity then you know when amidst privation and poverty and austerity um so uh I'm excited to be able to offer through our research a clear and a data driven explanation for how we can achieve that prosperity and of course that's what's been missing for so long is how how on Earth could we solve these problems with prosperity where's that Prosperity going to come from well now I think we can see it it really could come from these disruptions okay one very final twist to the story it just the turbo charges the whole thing of course is that there's a fourth disruption coming there's a fourth disruption it's not just these three there's a fourth and the fourth is bigger than the other three combined the fourth is the disruption of human labor by artificial intelligence and Automation and of course is going to happen simultaneously with the other three right so if you think cheap clean energy transportation and food will lead to Prosperity or could lead to Prosperity or open the door and create the opportunity for Prosperity well just imagine what a functionally Unlimited Supply of cheap machine labor powered by sunlight and wind will do for the prospects of prosperity so to me the disruption of Labor by Automation and AI that seems like that could be what allows Humanity to reach Prosperity escape velocity I think um now my team has not done research on the disruption of Labor yet that's not a disruption we're still grappling with that um and um uh uh I hope we can do we could do work on that going forward and and publish some some useful insights on that um there's enormous potential of course there's enormous risks and Hazards as well of all kinds um uh as I'm sure we can we can all imagine it might be fun to talk about as well as the enormous potential benefits of Automation and Ai and disrupting human labor um but I'll I will leave that to other speakers and uh to any further conversation we want to have um so thank you for for uh for taking the time to listen and I do hope that this is encouraging um and provides a rational basis for optimism not just sort of a can-do attitude but real reasons to be optimistic about the future of the environment so thank you very much thanks Adam Mash that Thumbs Up Button everybody I see though that's good yeah that's a new feature questions for them we have plenty of time for questions sir don't be shy I have a question
never mind can I behead clearly yes I can hear you okay great thanks Adam um about the final point about sort of the interaction between Ai and these other destruction um and I want to kind of quiz you on um on the first three disruptions so with AI I mean my talk later is going to be a little bit about some of the risks that we see coming from that um my question is I think I can foresee risks coming from AI what are some risks that could come from the other three disruptions um one risk that I think I see maybe start you off or get your reaction to is um if these Technologies did come about and if the sort of control over them was not distributed um fairly they could lead to sort of concentrations of power namely economic power um in the hands of small groups and that could be sort of a that could lead to risks um but everyone who's not those small groups so yeah I wonder if you think of what do you think of that risk from these Technologies and other risks from these disruptions yeah that's a great question so they it's different the the sets of potential risks differ uh across the disruptions so in the example of energy um the we don't seem to have a major risk of consolidation of for example of intellectual property I suppose it's possible with some of the battery research that's going on that a a real you know profound uh breakthrough we don't model breakthroughs but if one were to occur I doubt that we would see that in Wind technology or solar photovoltaic technology at this point but if one were to occur in batteries uh I could see an individual company or an individual economy like an individual Nation I'm controlling uh wielding undue control over the global supply of that and that could be problematic certainly in the short term um but in general in energy it's really quite an encouraging picture solar and wind are are amend themselves and batteries to democratization and decentralization um especially because they work at different it's at all scales so solar and batteries I mean they're great you can wear them on your wrist or you can have gigawatt scale installations and anything in between you can't have that with a coal power plant or a nuclear power plant um so so uh in in general I think the risks are lower in the energy space for the consolidation of power uh the risks that are that do exist in energy and they exist in every any disruption of an entire sector is that um you know any jobs any Industries any Nations that are uh currently Tethered to and dependent upon
the the energy status quo which has persisted around fossil fuels for a century or more um they are threatened and so that's millions of people and millions of jobs tens of millions of people and tens of millions of jobs and entire nations that will be negatively impacted as the industries that they have depended upon for so long collapse and we cannot be callous about that we have to we and we can't ignore it and we can't get blindsided by it those peop those individuals the industries we need to let those go and we don't want to be bailing out Executives or shareholders you know we want to be protecting the people the workers in those Industries and the publics in those Nations that are affected and we have to do that um honestly we have to do that as an entire civilization because if we don't then the the damage um you know the backlash the consequences that could that could uh you know Ripple across the global economy um could be could be very negative and and affect all of us right um so uh what's going on in Russia for example um is kind of very complicated situation but it certainly doesn't help that Russia faces an extremely Bleak future economically because you know it's it's it's funding especially for its government is so closely tied to fossil fuels and if that were to evaporate or diminish substantially even dropped by half let alone drop by 80 or 90 percent this was catastrophic for Russia and then thus for global stability so we need to think very carefully about how we manage the the the the um transformation um and there's no putting the genie back in the bottle we're not going to stop these disruptions we just we have to we have to be prepared for them and manage them so that's energy in in transportation just very quickly in transportation you know millions of people drive for a living so it's the same situation you know truck drivers are going to be out of work taxi drivers drivers are going to be out of work that's a huge numbers of people and we can't be callous and we can't be blindsided by um by by that uh situation um people who manufacture those vehicles uh the industries that manufacture them and so on um in food again similar sort of situation um uh consolidation of power is a risk right if if uh the Precision fermentation in cellular agriculture Technologies um become if they if they've if if monopolies emerge around uh key pieces of intellectual property for example um then one could imagine something like what we saw with the internet where yes
enormous new services and goods are available and yes you know lots of new value is created but control is concentrated in the hands of a few giant mega corporations Amazon Facebook Google Etc one could easily imagine a parallel trajectory for food technology 15 or 20 years from now um right and and ideally we would not want that ideally we would want larger uh ecosystem of companies less Consolidated control and power more open Alternatives and so forth um now if if we don't plan and we and we get blindsided by all of this and and our policy makers are not informed ahead of time and the public is not pushing its elected representatives to make a policy then that's just we will simply fall into that trap as we have in the past but knowing ahead of time and being forewarned and forearmed with that knowledge maybe we can take a different course um and I certainly argue that we ought to um think ahead and do precisely that in the book and then the last thing um uh uh another risk with again with food and and agriculture in particular um is that it is not in the case of food and agriculture unlike energy jobs and transportation jobs food and agriculture is not just a job yes tens perhaps hundreds of millions of people will be affected by um uh the end of animal agriculture when it could when you know selling animal products from animals can no longer compete with you know the new tech animal products from new technologies um but but that's different because being a you know being a farmer is not quite the same as as just working a job at an automotive Factory that you might lose or on an oil rig that you might lose Farms are tied to history they're tied to culture owning the ownership of land um is is directly connected to livelihood in a way that it isn't for other occupations so uh there is more at stake perhaps um than just the loss of jobs that could be compensated if new jobs were made available or other supports were made available if you if if your entire livelihood and cultural history and Heritage is wiped out by a new technology and you lose your land as a result of that that is a different set of of calamities and impacts than just not being able to drive a taxi for a living anymore and having to find another job those are not directly those are not identical things those are quite different I think and so um the stakes perhaps are somewhat higher in the food disruption and we need again we need to be mindful of that and policy makers need to be prepared and not be you know plugging
their ears and sticking their heads in the sand but saying okay this is coming what are we going to do about it um uh and and I think I hope part of the work that my organization will do over the next several years is uh try to find some better answers to those open questions right now they're open questions for which we don't have great answers but these we need to be asking these questions and seeking answers through experiment and um and and piloting and so forth uh now while we still have time this is going to be a very difficult and painful thing to react to We need definitely want to be proactive about managing the various risks and and pitfalls uh that are certainly present on that theme by the way I enjoyed Matt's question on your answer I was going to ask a similar thing I'm just kind of wondering whether you feel we can get there or whether we need similar disruption in our kind of political and ethical knowledge yeah that is a great question my my colleagues the two founders of rethink X of my organization Tony siba and James Arby um their most recent book does tackle that question it it asks given the transformation that these disruptions spell for Humanity what uh what is the what is the kind of Social and institutional response we will need to have um and that is just facing energy transportation and food again my organization I haven't in my research they haven't in their research it brought the the entire AI uh picture into the question or a question question into the picture which just just takes you know dials everything up another order of magnitude Beyond right um in terms of you know what are we going to do if if uh you know substantial fraction of all human labor is replaced um by capital in the form of of um narrowly intelligent machines it is something we desperately need to prepare for and figure out um I've seen a lot of proposals I don't I don't have my you know my cards on any particular um on any particular plan or proposal yet um it's a I would love to hear ideas for what others think uh our response ought to be or can be to these things that are coming but certainly a renegotiation of the general social contract seems in order the idea that you're you know you you if you don't work for a crust you get you're just going to starve in the street it seems like that that cannot be the path forward um uh so maybe we're looking at something like a universal basic income um but it it undoubtedly will have to be much more complex and nuanced than than
just that I'm thinking that I'm skeptical that a simple solution a simple sweeping solution uh will work everywhere we haven't seen much success with that in the past um so um yeah we need to I think that my strongest advice is that um we need to recognize that this is a reality that's coming and prepare for it and the best preparation we can do is to start experimenting and learning um so the first step in solving any problem is admit there's a problem try to Define it get your hands get your arms wrapped around it and then you know start testing Solutions um what else are you going to do right um for any formidable problem for any formidable challenge especially one for which the solutions are not likely to be identical everywhere so uh I know that's not very satisfying I wish I had a better more satisfying uh set of answers but these are these are profoundly difficult questions and challenges that we face um so although the the the basis for optimism is there at a fundamental level you know um enormous material abundance and prosperity that's generated cleanly um uh that's incredible but how do we Avail ourselves of that well that is an enormous Challenge and an open question what are your ideas please I mean tell me you guys I want to know uh before somebody solves the world's problems I'll just insert a small comment so the next session is supposed to start now but due to an emergency has been canceled so this discussion can continue as long as Adam is free to continue it um so no time pressure I think there was uh Liam did you have a question from earlier before we uh Source comments on um yes yeah um yeah I can't quite solve The World's problems just yet but I'll give it a few more minutes um but I did have a question for you Adam about how government intervention affects disruption and I guess I'm kind of um when I think about disruption occurring it seems that markets generally need to be pretty free in order to respond to various price signals that are occurring right and so I kind of I wonder if in your research you've you've seen a kind of universality of the disruption regardless of the amount of government intervention or whether in the current day there's you know way more um political lobbying that happens for things like coal and stuff that might affect the ability for the disruption to to truly happen yeah that's I mean that's a great very important question my general read on the history of disruptions is that the the first the first thing to recognize is that they're they
are not stoppable they seem to they seem to be unstoppable um so in that if in that respect uh it there is there is a way in which there's a way to look at it in which you could you could argue that well it doesn't it doesn't really matter uh what any individual government does you can't put the you can't get the horse back in the barn you can't put the genie back in the bottle et cetera et cetera however having said that having said that um different disruptions have had their particulars and we have seen disruptions accelerated or delayed both globally you know by the efforts of individual large powerful governments um uh so I mean examples of those we can find in Computing during wartime efforts and and um even in the case of energy you know China uh over the past decade and a half or so has had a variety of different policies and the US also some taxes some much smaller but but still perhaps meaningful policy um that has incentivized and therefore accelerated um the investment in solar panels and deployment of solar panels and that's probably brought the timeline forward a little bit from where it would have just been with Market forces in the energy disruption just as an example but um so you can kind of massage the you can push the the the the the the um the timeline around you can kind of Squish your elongators or compress the um the S curve of the disruption it's trajectory you can you can change it a little bit uh both globally and in you know in a particular society but there's no stopping it completely that's my read on it there's no way to stop it completely um and uh as powerful as the as the oil and gas industry and the fossil fuel industry is today um they are vulnerable and um you know it it coal was a very powerful industry for example massive Titanic industry um and in the United States coals collapsed to nothing over the last 10 11 12 years now I guess since since the peak in 2011 um and uh it's just once once investors jump ship because the growth prospects evaporate um doesn't take very long for the industry to just enter a death spiral even a very very large you know tens of hundreds of billions of dollars um committed and potentially trillions of dollars of Assets in the field uh they can all get stranded so the the um uh my read of history is that there's no uh there's no way to to stem the tide the technological tide you can just kind of um you know direct the flow a little bit massage it a little bit here and there um whether in your favor as an
industry or in the interest of your Society with wise governance um but uh having said that there are some again there are some risks that we should be mindful of where I think uh government intervention early on especially is very important it could lead to much better uh much better specific outcomes especially you know much less pain over the transition period much more equity in the in the final outcomes um uh you know if we if we have Smart intellectual property law around new food Technologies for example we could probably get much better outcomes than than we would if it was just you know unbridled um uh Market forces with existing uh IP law and globally that's just one example but um yeah it's it's oh I don't think there's any stopping these three energy transportation in food um it's a it's the the fourth one the the disruption of Labor by AI an automation man that is that's breaking all of our models and rules about disruption I think I don't I don't want to make any claims about that uh I I mean the potential risks are so large then we're properly in sort of nuclear weapons technology territory right I mean it's it's it's it's so profound and so potentially impactful um both positively and negatively that uh I I think I think we could rationally justify an enormous amount of of um regulatory control if it could be coordinated globally um but of course if that can't be complete you know if they can't be controlled the development of it then you know some sort of arms race Dynamic just like the you know nuclear with nuclear weapons in the Cold War it's probably inevitable and uh yeah um with all of the all of the the um risk that goes along with that so yeah I I can speak a little more confidently uh about the disruption of energy transportation and food based on history and what we've seen I'm hesitant to say anything really one way or the other about about what's going to happen with AI everybody's uh who all the other speakers talking today are probably better equipped to to um answer questions about that one here's a question uh the efficient market hypothesis question uh sorry Lim I'll just ask this quickly so okay you say these disruptions are coming and for example land use will be disrupted uh you know your data is publicly available you're not basing this off secret knowledge other Market participants can see it where is the signal in prices that reflects this fact and if there isn't such a signal is everybody just stupid or I'm asking the question
generally of uh these disruptions if they're predictable and there's evidence for them uh okay in the case of coal and we can see the uh this fact represented in the markets but in terms of land use or labor automation maybe we don't quite see it why is that yeah that's a great question um so there are some things that we can see and some some indicators um and then some things that are sort of puzzling they sort of suggest a level of denialism um and then there are uh I think there are so that's that's two uh two things I'll talk about and then the third point that I'll talk about is um I think there are that that the status quo is something of an attractor Basin right so that the the um even if the the Dynamics are shifting um there is you know there's a tendency I think for for example prices in markets um uh you know your price of of meat at the supermarket for example to roughly remain um unchanged or or uh be pulled towards the status quo um and what's familiar even if the Sands are all shifting underneath the industry's feet as it were um okay so let me talk about each of each of those I mean if in the first uh in the first case um uh one thing that we definitely see a key leading indicator is the amount of investment that's that's that's going on um uh so the amount of money that's pouring into uh clean energy technology that's now approaching you know that that that is going to pass the trillion dollar Mark um uh in the 2020s and that's trillion dollars annually invested it's a staggering amount of investment going into clean energy this is these are projects that are you know slated now they're in the pipeline just you know an ungodly amount of investment and that's that's quite visible it's not all completely transparent but but it's we can see a lot of that of of that investment and so a lot of it's from governments right especially in the energy sector a lot of that investment is being made um uh but with public dollars uh uh and public uh money not um not just private investment uh and alongside investment we see huge numbers of startups so in the food space for example in these new in the in the food disruption there are oh I think the last count was 400 and something um start companies around the world that have that are startups around Precision fermentation and cellular Agriculture and I I don't have the number of the dollar number of investment off the top of my head but it's in the tens of billions now so that's an indicator that that um
uh you know it's early days and we aren't seeing the you know the effects of products in market yet but we can certainly see the indication from of anticipation from investment well public and private so that's the first thing um uh and then the next thing I I won't go on it like about this but the the the the last thing that I um uh the last point that I mentioned um yeah the um oh yeah it I the the you can enter so here's here's an example I'll give you a specific example with coal and we've seen it with other Industries in the past once your growth prospects evaporate right so nobody's investing in Coal based on any illusion that it's got a bright future of growth ahead of it no no investment is currently being made of that kind however however that doesn't mean it's not possible to um uh to make a lot of money as an investor in coal and that's because there are a variety of sort of um I mean I would broadly speaking call them shenanigans but um you can enter different modes of operation in an industry uh in particular modes that are unsustainable and then in my organization which kind of we throw them into a big bucket that we call rundown mode and so an industry that's facing disruption and collapse um it's investors and it's it's shareholders and and so forth and even governments if they're involved um they will pivot into a rundown mode which means no new investment in the growth growth of the future minimal investment and upkeep um of equipment uh the maintenance of assets um uh divestment from Holdings that are vulnerable exposed trying to pass off existing assets that you know are going to be stranded onto hapless or more hapless investors for example dumping um subsidiaries you know loading up subsidiaries with doomed assets and then and then offloading you know those subsidiaries onto unsuspecting pension holders uh Pension funds and stuff this is a pattern that we've seen in the past it's really shady uh uh that's the kind of thing to expect and unfortunately people can make an absolute killing during that run down phase possible to make very very large uh amounts of profit even when the industry itself is in the throes of of collapse and death um so that is something to expect and in the process of doing that you know there's a lot of incentive to maintain the illusion that everything's fine oh all you know is still mining coal we're still running the coal power plants and we are likely to see that in other Industries as well we're likely to see that in animal farming we're likely
to see that in the conventional Auto industry the automotive sector well we'll just you know people are going to still want to buy combustion engine Toyota Corollas 15 years from now why would we fully commit to investing in changing all of our manufacturing to electric vehicles um so I think we're likely to um we're likely to see a lot of that in the three disruptions energy transportation and food um some pull towards a uh the status quo is a little bit of a sort of a homeostatic a little bit of an attractor Basin systemically as for the fourth one labor AI you guys tell me I have I don't I have no clue I really don't I'm really struggling to see how it you know the the those same rules apply right I mean how does yeah um certainly there's a huge amount of investment we're seeing that so that's a leading indicator but you know um what would we expect to see in labor markets um or even in like Professional Service Industries like the like the you know artists and and so forth who are now being threatened by these new generative AI tools what what would we expect to see um uh as an indication would there be a desperate sort of uh denialism and you know some some sort of quietly collectively agreed upon uh uh charade that you know nothing everything's fine here guys you know fire you know your house on fire and your hair on fire in the background and you know uh no nothing to worry nothing to see here nothing to worry about I mean maybe there's some of that um but uh yeah I don't know it's it's just different than the coal industry going out of business um you know when when when everybody's job is at risk of being automated I just yeah that that that is it breaks the rules and I don't I'm still struggling to get my head wrapped around how the fourth disruption uh is gonna work it's it's this is too much this different about it and just a quick comment on that which is um pretty much what I was going to respond to your earlier response we've had and I think implicit in the environmental disruptions you're talking about is a simultaneous political phase transition that happens as the collective Consciousness becomes more aware of um you know the damage CO2 does and how we need to protect the environment and all of these things and I think where it's a deeply fascinating question for AI is whether that same kind of political phase transition can happen for something that seems to attack like our fundamental being in a in a much more significant way so yeah that's
that's just a comment but scary yeah I think that's really really insightful really interesting um I should have included in my slides a diagram it's it's sort of a two flywheel um uh diagram and it shows the sort of the the multiple feedback loops um uh of what accelerates you know the the investment in an adoption of the new technology and divestment from and disadoption of the older Technologies and one of the things several of the of the forces that are that are in that diagram are ones that you've just you know alluded to they are things like public sentiment and support you know we turn a blind eye to the downsides and then you know the externalities and the negative side effects and consequences of Technologies when there's not a better option available but man once a new Option becomes available social sentiment and tolerance can really pivot away quickly and we're and like you said we're already seeing some of that with with you know fossil fuels with combustion engine vehicles um uh you know countries are talking about banning those Technologies by a certain date now and you know this public support tolerance is is diminishing um and we've seen that those sorts of patterns in the past you know we've we've uh those are definitely recurring themes in the history of disruption but it is a absolutely you know it's a really really great question uh are we gonna what would what would that look like what would that even look like for AI disrupting I mean Jesus everybody's job basically I mean what would it what would what would what would public support swinging towards AI how would that matter what would that look like how would public support against um human labor uh uh writ large what would that look like I mean I guess there is an anti-work movement I guess there's a sort of a you know an anti I mean I guess I'm a sort of vaguely aware of those things people who are you know um who want whatever them like sort of luxury automated communism and things like that I mean I think there are some some interesting Niche schools of thought uh that maybe tackle a little bit of this stuff but so maybe we could ask the question what would what would a um what would a general uh decline in tolerance and support for the status quo around human labor look like in the existing uh social contracts uh built around it um and then what would a massive public swing towards support and excitement and enthusiasm about artificial intelligence as a threat to human labor right um
displacement human labor what would that look like well like like can we even can we imagine what a social movement or or a general public sentiment might be um that might be a really cool exercise to try to Envision that um yeah anyway that's there's a really cool in the it certainly is gonna have something to do with a better system of wealth distribution I think that seems pretty clearly because otherwise why would we want you know politically speaking why would we want the AI to um to be doing our jobs for the sense so I think a very fundamental shift in economic thought is going to have to occur at the same time I mean we have had some really interesting discussions um about how what some of these shifts systemic shifts might look like um and what forces might be involved and how to how to just sort of think about them in general in our other disruption seminars here in meta Union probably we'll continue to have those conversations going forward um and uh Dan you'll have to forgive my my memory I'm a little fuzzy between what conversations we've had in those seminars and then what ones you and I have had you know just privately between the two of us I'm a little fuzzy on so I apologize maybe I might be thinking of you know oh we talked about that in the seminar but actually it was you know just between you and me um but we've seen for example and we've talked about um proposals uh Sam Altman had an interesting proposal about um uh uh you know granting um claims against land and uh uh basically basically mechanisms for um Distributing ownership to um uh citizens in in not just you know income like a universal basic income but actual ownership of or the potential to own assets a mechanism to to purchase um uh claims against those things because ownership will be very very important obviously uh in any um world that we don't want massive consolidation of the the ownership of of capital and everybody else is just um uh you know at loose ends and at the mercy of whatever Ubi their society manages to implement kind of thing um so that's one you know we've seen interesting proposals from some bright people about that uh we also Jan just sent me something really interesting today about um you know uh uh there's there's a number of folks thinking about inefficiency and bureaucracy that History of Thought goes a long way back um uh but you may have heard of this term jobs and there's some fun thinking about how you know there's quite a bit of work make work in the modern economy there's
uh you know there are a lot of jobs that are Superfluous or even counterproductive but they are you know they're constructions within large bureaucracies um uh because you know people need the work people need the jobs and so the incentives align such that that Superfluous jobs and occupations and roles are created within large governments and corporate bureaucracies and those sort of General fall under uh the rubric of jobs um there's interesting things to think about there and and yes sir I'm just going to comment on to link what you just said and what Liam was saying jobs are How We Do wealth distribution I mean we have two systems of wealth distribution and we have welfare and we have jobs and uh why wouldn't we expect it seems to me the clearest Way Forward is just an explosion of jobs isn't that the easiest way I mean it's terrible and depressing but isn't this the most realistic possibility uh I mean middle classes want more jobs and less welfare in general it seems to be at least that's how we organize our activities so why wouldn't we expect that as the Surplus from AI increases we'll just see an enormous Cambrian explosion of jobs well the the yeah the question there is is can the value that's that you can possibly um you know the the illusion of value that you can uh that you can attached to a bull to a job obviously a job if you can that exceed the value that that um you know the growing value that AI could potentially offer through Automation and so there's a there's a question of whether the could keep up with could adapt quickly enough and expand quickly enough to keep up with the um uh you know the technological unemployment driven by the the AI uh this is one place where my bets are on humans this is the place we'll stay ahead of the AIS oh that's funny um listen you guys I do have to uh do have to sign off thank you so much for having me Dan thank you so much for the invite and again for creating this uh amazing world really um yeah thanks a lot Adam it's awesome it is absolutely awesome and it's part of the brighter future that I that excites me every day so thanks for letting me be part of it yeah and uh this discussion continues every week in the disruption seminar so come along to that and chat on these topics with Adam and I and and others I'll see you later Adam thanks guys bye thanks Adam Dan could you um say a bit more about what a job is what kind of example is it defined by something that provides like no real economic value well that's hard
to Define yeah it's a tricky concept and of course you will offend somebody or everybody if you're trying to find it too precisely usually what Adam says is that I mean this book is a Graber I I think is the name of the author uh they Define it as a job is something that is self-defined so if you believe that actually your job doesn't really do anything uh then it's a job so of course that's subjective uh but yeah I mean it's contentious right I mean maybe the whole idea is is actually not very coherent um and you could it depends on the outcomes you think are what an organization is trying to achieve right uh I think a lot of times when you look closely at what people say about what their organization should be doing in fact they kind of see redistributing the income in into people within the organization as very far from being even if the people receiving the income uh not really achieving any external goal defined for the organization that's uh that's up to the people involved I guess um but okay yeah what's a yeah maybe the term is a bit too much I don't know um I guess we're the reason I say like something that doesn't provide any real economic value in my mind immediately went to was a um a pretty terse critique of Keynesian economics which is something like paying someone to dig a hole and then walk on and then paying someone to follow him and refill the hole in and somehow that being like an economic driver when of course there was no actual value created yeah I think the clearest analysis of it I've seen is something like there's probably not that many jobs that are 100 right but if you disaggregate the tasks in any given job uh there's probably a significant proportion which kind of you know their job exists because the manager in that part of the organization had a budget that needed to use it so they created a role and probably you don't need a whole human to do it actually it's like 20 of a human's full-time attention is required to take form a from database X and turn it into data form Zed and submit it to database C uh but you know then that person once they have that job needs to defend the existence of their job and prove their utility so they do a lot of politics they integrate themselves into various networks they make themselves useful to people that's typical human behavior right so how much of Any Given person's job is spent kind of Defending that position versus actually kind of delivering value that would be um it's hard to measure right because
actually keeping an organization kind of intact is a political problem a lot of our problems are coordination problems and a lot of the way we coordinate may look like but if you're inside it or actually managing people maybe you take a little bit more of a softer view on what is and what is not I mean I don't manage people so other people here might comment more on that but I think it's you know uh it's maybe hard to say but I think it's pretty clear uh that some significant percentage of a lot of jobs might not actually you know be really delivering value to anybody apart from maybe the person who's deriving a salary I don't know that's the argument but you know again maybe who's to say what value is maybe there's a lot of value in Social stability right that is a externality uh having the middle class is actually employed and not you know pondering revolution in all their time off uh has some value so how much yeah yeah it might be actually a well sorry there um there might actually be benefit from the critique of jobs like from the individual point of view rather than the systemic because a job may may just be a job where somebody cannot Escape How uh like just from the rules set up around them in their work they're going to escape how boring it is how mundane it is and how pointless it feels to the person actually doing it yeah I think that's right um but then yeah I'm sample you just gave um from the perspective of workflow engineering lots of companies have that situation where somebody's um bringing down data to a form and then moving it over to another database and loading it in that's just fairly common in business and that creates those kinds of jobs but they're necessary they do add value because they they make the process complete but what it really means is the process isn't fully engineered and so people wind up filling those gaps where from a technological analysis it looks like you know we could set up an automated program to carry data from one database to to another readily right let's say the common UT Health yeah I think that's right I think the kind of yeah I think the kind of jobs that Adam is specifically thinking of and which are relevant to say progress in AI are largely of that form where we could automate more but we don't and just working within a university it's clear that or any organization right you can look around and clearly see that if people were really motivated you could automate a lot more but there's reasons to not do that which aren't derived
directly from trying to achieve the most with the least resources so are those jobs yeah I mean I don't I don't know it's um at some point when it's absolutely obvious that your job could be automated just by going import X in Python and then two lines of code and now you can just ask GPT to do it and copy and paste at that point probably it's clearly a job but uh there's this there's a lot of I mean a lot of my friends at Google are just piping protocol buffers into one another right and it's not a trivial job sometimes maybe it's quite complicated the data transformation but uh it's like so not a job five years ago maybe a job in one year uh I don't know I mean that's why it's self-defined right they might also provide a weird um sort of second order benefit of at least getting like from that previous example you just laid out Dan and somebody at Google doing a seemingly job um it might provide stimulation to people moving laterally around in the workplace so they don't have to put on their resume that they did a job at Google but that they just worked at Google and the more affluent companies tend to have um you know one would expect them to have more jobs but maybe their name and just the the sheer value of adding that on your resume it could help some fluidity in the job market and also from the organization's perspective it's like a like a cognitive reservist you have these people sitting around you can deploy to lots of different things but you've got to give them something to do in the meantime that makes them familiar with the systems and um yeah you know a lot of these things maybe this I think I think there's that aspect but a lot of times when I see in the in the corporate world is that certain jobs are are filled by folks who aren't really technologists and so they come into a business role and there's a learning curve to to run SQL or even to build an Excel report and it's quite an accomplishment to get that fulfilled but once that's been repeated uh for every week for three years in a row right it's it's obviously clear even to the person still running that process that this could probably be done better right and it just won't be done better because that Gap is is filled and only certain select processes in corporations actually get the development team to uh streamline everything needed to make it work and then where everything needed didn't actually get put into the uh the model then people get brought in to fill the gaps and then after a while
as you just mentioned people having repeated these tasks for more than a year realize there has to be a better way to do this yeah I guess we should be a bit careful as a sort of values question that's at the center of this right which is well if if our aim is to achieve productivity then maybe we call them jobs because that is getting in the way of productivity but of course employment is achieving many other ends which are not just productivity to call it like social stability might be a bit reductive uh it's providing I mean maybe you don't like your job but it's good to have a job we see that in plenty of not only to have a steady income but it promotes social stability family formation all sorts of other things if we were more productive maybe we would have less of those things and especially if we're imagining transition to a much more automated economy [Music] yeah I don't know if like thinking about it as jobs actually helps because maybe maybe we need to be a bit Kinder towards humans if we're to get to a place where uh I mean it's I don't know exactly what I'm trying to say but I'm reminded of an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation I saw when someone from the past was shocked that there was no money um what um he should do all day and uh Captain Picard's answer was enrich yourself enhance yourself and um beautiful I wonder you know there's there's the end game that that is the end game right um it's done saying here you subtract the other um reasons why uh what the other benefits the social interaction um you know various um reasons why being in some kind of job is a good thing independent of exactly what you're doing in the job um a readily transferable to a world where it's no longer about the job it's just about how to live well getting there um May well be a challenge but that's the North Star I think I agree I was I was actually wondering on the prolifer area of this conversation if we might talk about the viability of Ubi and UBS because if um if we did accept the redundancy of a lot of jobs that have popped up in our you know in the modern times there might need to be something to catch those people if they were you know fired and uh I was wondering if anybody had any thoughts on Ubi or if you if anyone knows about the alternate uh a later sort of um alternative to that which is universal basic Services instead of the universal basic income and I think the I'm really personally fascinated with that idea because it sort of requires that certain crucial
Industries for human like flourishing or even survival become privatized or even removed from the economy entirely or maybe sort of um subordinated to a a different type of economy that's not tied to our trade just to provide the necessities of housing clothing food maybe even opportunities to education but yeah so what do we all think do we think that's a viable path forward or do you think Ubi or UBS is a bit defunct yeah for myself I don't have a clear opinion about Ubi it seems like an experiment that needs to be done urgently some experiments have been done of course you're probably familiar with those um I I guess some people talk about the recent mailing out of checks in the U.S during the pandemic as as a bit of a negative evidence against Ubi and its utility uh um I don't I think it's confounded by too many other things uh I guess I'm I think mostly what I'm worried about is uh when we talk about a Ubi uh it's fine to kind of sit at a very high level of analysis and imagine Humanity all together but really we're not like that right and in a crisis it matters very much where you're a citizen so I I'm not sure Australia can afford a Ubi I mean we don't we're not on track to have very Advanced artificial intelligence uh so if the future is just radically more productive as a result of AGI maybe only a few people have it and the Americans can think about that but Australians might not have the luxury of uh of such futuristic conceptions um so I don't know I can imagine not sorry no go ahead I can imagine it was one of the things that affected the potential or maybe the actual negative impacts of those checks during the pandemic in the U.S was due to their their huge debt you know and I'm thinking again of that that Star Trek world where money isn't an issue and I'm although I've never actually seen that in the show because I actually haven't watched that much my my dad tells me about it all the time um because he loves the idea and we just pontificate on it for hours but I think that idea may be popped up for an interesting reason because they seem I always I don't know about you guys but I feel like a personal dissonance when I learn about how many resources we have and how poorly they're distributed and it sort of seems as if the the economy in the middle there is at fault you know because we have well at least um I don't know many statistics but I do know that they have enough food in the U.S to feed everybody and there's enough real estate to house everybody and there's certainly