REPLAY: Ramez Naam How Renewable Energy Killed Coal and Why Radical Life Extension Isnt Going to Happen

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

You know I think. Bill's sort of midlife change is hugely inspirational to me. We have this notion in society of average ever is at avaricious. Rich I think is how you put that or that. The self ingredients the greedy bastards and I think that's certainly does exist. Bill Gates was at this moment in his life where he was the richest person on planet earth he was leading a company that had the highest market cap and adjusted for inflation. Microsoft's market cap then is still higher than companies the market or is a fraction of the stock market. Actually it's still higher back then than any company has achieved since and I think he stepped back and said Jeeze. I've done this. What's my responsibility of a human being out? What should the richest person on planet Earth Stu and I think that pivot to really focusing on helping? The world's poor was totally brilliant and morally on. I spent all day today writing. I love coffee. But I hate jitters. I was at starbucks. And I'm a little bit bouncing off the walls. That's why in pumped tell you guys about today's show sponsor forcing matic's lion's mane blend if you haven't tried lion's Mane or the other awesome mushrooms that this finish company is putting out there. I definitely recommend it between the podcast books startup. Coaching and life is a dad. I need to be switched on in creative in a big way and forcing maddix proprietary blend. Scott only forty milligrams of caffeine for creative natural drug-free productivity to power your day without the crash side effects or addiction. And you know what the flavor it's awesome listeners if you go to disruptors. Dot FM SLASH S. You'll save ten percent off anything from forcing They've got some incredible superfood blend. I recommend checking out their four mushroom blend as well. And you know what you'll get free shipping anywhere in the US again that's disruptors DOT FM Slash F use offer code disrupters to save ten percent and to take it to the next level. Tim ferriss recommends this to everybody. Jonathan Levy one of the awesome guests. We had our Superhuman Academy all-star he loves it as well and it's powering elite performers. Like you everywhere. I want to take a quick time out to give you guys a personal update. Many of you know I've been working on my dream of becoming a SCI FI author will now. I've got a couple of SCIFI books and techno-thrillers coming out soon joined a help me enjoy my advanced. Beta reader team and get free or deeply discounted copies of my upcoming books to review and help improve the stories. If you're a fan of Michael CRICHTON Daniel Suarez a good dystopia Ian or epic fantasy. You'll love my writing. If you join and share your feedback it would mean the world for me and my writing career seriously. I'd really appreciate it. If you visit Matt Ward Dot Com Slash Book and enter your details. Then you'll be notified and occasionally selected to pre. Read some books before everyone else show. Your thoughts works directly with me to help me make the story better and much more. I WanNa give you guys an epic. Thanks for listening to the podcast especially for folks interested in the books and again if you WANNA get my books before they come out before anyone and helped me make this writing career success. Please visit Matt Ward Dot Co Slash Book to join and get your free early copies and now. Let's get on with the program. Welcome to the disrupters. The podcast about the future of all of us where we look at the technologies trends and societal norms shaping. Our collective future here. The world's top mines share their insights and predictions on the Convergence Direction and ethics of exponential technologies transforming. Like this you can learn more and stay up to date at DISRUPTORS DOT FM. What if I told you I could read your mind? How creepy would that be? We could change the world. It could just be a nightmare to either way it would be incredibly interesting and quite a thought experiment and is one that today's gassed actually went through Ramez. Naam is without a doubt one of the most interesting people I've ever met. He's a computer scientist. Futurist and Angel Investor and award winning author and he's on the faculty at Singularity University. He's best known for his next trilogy. Which was an award winning series looking at what happens when humanity has a mind merge he's also written a couple of really influential nonfiction books. The infinite resource the power of ideas and more than human embracing the promises of biological enhancement. He's the coach. Eric Singular University focused on energy and the environment which will live deep deep into in this episode. I learned a ton. I'm sure you guys will do any work early on with Bill Gates at Microsoft. He's Co panted quite a few things with bill. In fact he's appeared everywhere you could imagine under the Sun and now he is here on the disrupters just for you guys in today's episode. We talk about why we're at a tipping point. When it comes to carbon emitting cars sold worldwide what it was like working with Bill Gates especially in the early days what Romney's predicted about renewable energy. And why it's actually better than even thought how technologists are solving global problems by fixing incentives and driving down costs. Why Rama's is not a big believer anymore when it comes to radical life extension the brain two point Oh movement and why we're becoming cyborgs seriously. How rumours thinks about crisper genetically engineered people and a couple of the other incredibly interesting topics. They're kicking around to their at singularity university. This one's fun interesting and you. I know you guys will enjoy it so without further ADO. I GIVE YOU RAMA's Numb. We choose to go to the moon and this decade and do the other thing not because they are easy but because they are very interesting career and I wanted to start out with. What's the highlight of your career? My Gosh I think I've been privileged to be in the right place right time to make an impact or at least to work on stuff that touches millions potentially billions of people. And I think that's because I'm a special at hired out of college and Microsoft and when you're in a company like that the decisions you make have scale and so I consider that a real privilege great fortune and since being a computer programmer. You've really expanded Now now you're into life sciences your singularity university's at half clean tech chair is how did get. How did you get such a expansive experience? Because there's got the story here. What's the thirty overview while the story is I'm not sure I'M GONNA be when I up. I just might just never grow up You know I've always been fascinated by the future and by technology I grew up reading science fiction and just really think about how science and technology can change the world and so I. I quit myself twice. The most recent time was almost a decade ago now and so when I quit once I found it a tech start up at the DOT bomb happened. I didn't know what to do so I wrote a book about a science. I was seeing. I would just read scientific papers for fun and I saw this technology coming down the pipe that could augment people make people cyborgs make smarter sit on the aging process so. I wrote a book about that. Went Back to Microsoft did much as often internet search machine learning what we call big data and cloud computing now and then decided to do something else and along the way I fell in love with a planet. I really haven't been environmentalists at all but I just sort of fell in love with water. Mr Scuba diver and snorkeller and lifeguard and that led me down the road of looking at solutions to environmental problem and that led me to energy and somewhere along that I turn some of my The research I had done for my first book on Human Enhancement into a series of science fiction novels and that's also a great excuse to learn about and pontificate about all sorts of technologies and scientific areas. So I'm a dilettante in. Add over. It's Uber incredible things. I love it as someone who likes to hop into different projects. That's a yeah. That's perfect. I WANNA I WANNA figure out why that happened before we get into the WanNa figure out why so. What was it that inspires you when you were younger. You said You let sci-fi was that the kicker maybe so I'm an immigrant kid My folks came to the US from Egypt. When I was three years old and a fe fought to stay was legally incredibly challenging. But eventually you know legally stayed in the US. I grew up here not changed my life. I grew up absorbing pop culture like at age three zero English whatsoever and so it was probably cartoons like voltron and things like that that influenced my very very young brain and that led me into science fiction and science fiction. I think is we the literature of ideas. It's the literature where you talk about. How could the world change and that spurred my interest in science and technology and that brings that brings you here so you come out of school? You Join Microsoft and incredibly promising company. What what year was this? Nineteen Ninety five nineteen ninety-five. So can you. Can you date us a little bit for that? The iphone was thirteen years ago. What was nine hundred ninety five other than Windows Ninety five? Yeah so I joined in January of Nineteen mid-january. At the time it was windows. Three point one was out are the old style Mac. Operating Systems Pre Osx no tablets. No smartphones relieving. There actually was windows for pen. I worked on that in college. Actually believe it or not a software for that so it was you know sort of the MAC versus PC battle all clients. I computing office productivity excel access databases. That sort of thing. So the first I did was work on shipping email functionality in windows ninety five the ship in August those my first understanding that you even though I came on about project late that little changes that I made in that email client would go on to affect the experience of a billion people as like. Wow Okay I better take. Seriously A and B Technology. Is this incredible scalable lever or tool set by which you can change the lives of billions of people and that's really compelling what was it like working with Gates. I know jobs was quite hard and I. I were things about gates you know. By the time I started working with gates it was really Two thousand three or four and by that point. I think he had mellowed a lot in his younger days. Legends of Bill Yelling at people and being mean in meetings. I was in a lot of meetings. I was in a at least a couple dozen meetings with bill including some just some one on one conversations when necessary and I think I saw him raise his voice once so he had he had matured. I think both as a manager and a human being by that point was a wicked. Smart still is a wicked smart human being. He would give us input on our ideas and plans and search that. Sometimes I didn't really understand the the impact of the importance of what he was saying for a year or two later I was like oh my gosh. That's what bill was saying back then so a pretty impressive human being incredibly especially considering what he built in how he's been able to leverage that for good. That's something that I think a lot of tech giants to be learning from you. Think bill's a sort of mid-life change is hugely inspirational to me. We have this notion in society of the average offer ideas avaricious rich I think is how you put that or that. The self ingredients the greedy bastards and I think you know that's certainly does exist. Bill Gates was at this moment in his life where he was the richest person on planet Earth he was leading the company that had the highest mark cap and adjusted for inflation. Microsoft's market cap then is still higher than any companies. The market or is a fraction of the stock market. Actually it's still higher back then than any company has achieved since and I think he sat back and said Jeeze. I've done this. What's my responsibility of human being? At what should the richest person on planet earth too and I think that pivot to really focusing on helping the world's poor was totally brilliant and morally. You made a big pivot around the same time why. I spent thirteen years at Microsoft in two stints Iran. A tech start up the bombed Ashley The bubble burst around. We're getting going and I think I just wanted to try something new for a little bit and when I laughed Microsoft second time around two thousand nine you know. My idea was to write some books. And if it didn't work out honestly I had the privilege and good fortune of having had a career in tech so I knew I could go back and get a job. That's something that most people are setting out on their own. Don't have that sort of fall back option but fortunately for me it did work people like my side by my book on a Clean Energy and innovation to save the planet a started me down the road of speaking angel investing and so a whole new career took off but without that platform of economic security of having a nest egg from Microsoft and knowing that I was employable in tech. I probably wouldn't have taken that risk. There are two ways that could take this. Immigrants route ends the having the nest egg or the the security net which are both political but not the incredibly interesting part about. You will get to those later. I WanNa what I WANNA ask you about now you become an author both nonfiction and Saifi. What's the dichotomy of fat like? Oh goodness so nonstop. Both types of books. Actually if you do it well. You're a smarter at the end of writing the book than you were. At the beginning I thought out to write a book about innovating in energy food water. Saving the planet. 'cause I thought I knew some stuff. I don't a lot of research but it turns out that Hamid. Finish the book and you so much more than I had when I started. So that's that's fun and compelling but there's a different kind of experience that readers have and what I found is that my science fiction moves people emotionally a lot more than any nonfiction so nobody ever comes up to me and says damn you. You kept me up till three. Am Reading your nonfiction books. But they do that with my Sifi. So that's also a pretty interesting. Humans aren't really wired for data or evidence or not least not. I assist six. We're wired for narrative that's what grips US emotionally holds our attention and so the narratives we create our superpowers Ashley. Sort of bypass a lot of our rational sought in humans. And go straight to this this part of us at wants to hear a story and follow that story so I I love doing that. I love when people tell me that they you know skipped sleep or where late for her. Or whatever That's the best compliment you can give to an author. I didn't feed my kids because you're Good not really of course but that's the sort of thing you want to hear but it's also something to be careful of. How can we in the media environment we have today can be narratives that are actually representative of a broader truth? What would be some examples of of warning towels? I mean there's lots of good uses of fiction to produce narratives? That are both things that we should avoid or that. We should pursue a recent trend of criticizing Sifi for being so dystopia but if you read nineteen eighty-four or something like that. It effectively was warning us that information technology could be used uniquely masses and I think that's very very useful. I think actually even as a sort of messed up as the media landscape and fake news and so on his today it's nothing like what nineteen eighty-four positive and I think that's partially because a story like Nineteen eighty-four inoculated us against government. Control the media yet sites place such a such an important role. I think there is that big importance of knowing. It's not true but knowing it could be. The differs from the the problems today with media. So what how'd you life change after you wrote the box it put me on a different sort of profile? I would say working in a big company if you're not the CEO or one of the top executives you can have a massive impact. People don't really know who you are and in a way writing books you have less capability. You're not managing a team or collaborating with dozens or hundreds other people working on building something. But it's you you have complete artistic control and the work is directly associated with you as a human being and that's quite interesting. It gives you a platform where a frankly your ideas are my ideas on topics that are separate from my books. Get listened to just because people have tuned into me because they liked my books my talks and after that you decided I wanted to do something. That freaking matters. I wanted to try to help the world in some way. Was there a catalyst yet very cliche? Environmental Awakening was in a on a beach in Mexico. And just you know one of those perfect days crystal clear blue green water just totally fell in love with it. Had A magical day. There were some litter up the beach. The beach near to loom Mexico in the Yucatan and I just started thinking what. Why if they're literally like. Why would people litter in such a beautiful place? This planet's gorgeous any litter is actually not that big and environmental problem in the grand scheme of things about that asking. That question sort of led me down the road of investigating. What was the state of the environment and asking myself? What's my responsibilities human? Being what do I need to do here? What year was this? Was this too early? Cleantech way before a lot of the startups failed the second way. This was the mid two thousand so at the time I wasn't an investor at the time and I wasn't really thinking a lot about startups. I really started looking at data about a prices really about what's the cost of solar power. What'S THE COST OF BATTERIES? And what I found was something that looks a lot like. Moore's law modest ashes Moore's law but if the cost of solar power was dropping exponentially the cost of batteries was dropping exponentially. And I put those excel and tried it out and said my goodness. I think around Twenty fifteen. We'll start to see a solar power and some parts of the world cheaper than coal at at the time when I first that has an article for scientific American around two thousand eleven people thought I was crazy. The both environmentalists and energy people thought that I was nuts. Environmentalists said. How can you dare be so optimistic? You're so naive and energy people said how can you be so foolish? Energy doesn't work like that tech boy. You're so naive and it turns out I was on. I was a little bit too pessimistic. The actual decline in the price of solar and batteries has been a little bit faster than I forecast then So that's a good lesson for me as well and where are we today just happen? Idea of the magnitude of James. Yes so today. We're still a very long way. From decarbonising. The world in fact carbon emissions are rising by at the COST OF CLEAN. Technology has plunged. And that's really going to be the driver. So in the sunniest parts of the world electricity from solar or wind without any subsidies is now about one third of the price of electricity from coal or gas. And that's places like Chile Brazil Mexico Saudi Arabia the United Arab Emirates. An Abu Dhabi very sunny places or very windy places as well and in the. Us wind power is now cheaper than colour gas solar in the southwest in Arizona Nevada in southern California and Texas is now even take all the subsidies cheaper than building new colour gas. And that's the leading indicator it's getting those low prices is what than starts to create a tipping point in the market with a switchover occurs. Not only that but I hear it's the fastest growing sector third for blue collar while it is solar. Installer is the fastest growing job in America. There's you know well. Over one hundred thousand jobs in solar now Quarter million jobs in solar now. A Lotta that's installation installation on rooftops. A lot of it's also tilleke scale solar which is most or how we deploy it and then wind. Turbine technician is also a fast growing job in some great plains and Upper Midwestern states where the wind is really great. Those both sound much better than being underground mining coal. It's a it's a little bit absurd what's happening. I think we have to get into that. Most people that are listening are very well aware of that. Where are we headed? So I know I know wind is pretty competitive right now. Solar projected to be far away the cheapest we have a big frigging Zahn solar where we're headed and what are some of those implications as the cost to come down further and further will we. Will we turn the corner? What we've got a data turned the corner on a number of things and I just had a tweet story about the green new deal and and what a comprehensive plan looks like. We've got to solve electricity but a quarter I missions. We've got to solve transportation about a quarter of the world's emissions we've gotTA solve industry and building heat steel cement manufacturing and he didn't buildings another quarter in the last quarter is agriculture and deforestation. I was on the first two on electricity transportation. I think we're approaching tipping points. This event happen a just a couple months ago. In Northern Indiana and utility nips go made this announcement. Nips go is fifty five percent coal power. Today vary an An Area Northern Indiana. That has a pretty mediocre solar sources really and has above average like pretty good but not amazing. Wind speeds and Indiana went for trump by nineteen points. Nips go announced late last year that in their five-year resource plan that cheapest way to provide energy for their customers was to shut down almost all of that coal power and replace it with solar wind. Batteries inflexible demand. Not Over thirty years but by twenty twenty three to go from sixty five percent coal today to fifteen percent coal just four years away now and then by twenty twenty eight ten years time the plan to be at zero so that I mean that was an amazing amazing moment. The CEO of next era which is one of the largest utilities in the US and operates Florida power and light and also builds a lot of solar and wind. He was quoted as saying by the early twenty. Twenty twenty twenty two. Maybe it'd be cheaper for them to build a new. Solar Wind Dente operate their existing coal power plants so of course that's based on geography. It's helped by some tax credits that we have. But as we hit those tipping points you'll see more and more parts of the world starting with the Sunniest in the windiest start to realize. Wow we should just turn off. Coal plants build more solar and wind and that in turn scales solar and wind and that brings their prices down further. I know this is one of the fears that China had recently started building more coal. Can you comment on that? You know there's some some ambiguous stuff there but there were some satellite imagery is saying that it looks like some a coal power plants with the Chinese government had ordered shutdown or cancelled not even shut out canceled. Like they shouldn't finish the construction. Henry started construction. I think there's two or three things happening. There one is the Chinese. Central Government doesn't always have great control of what the criticism believe it or not to is the the dates of that satellite imagery actually sort of our before the most aggressive wave of coal plant cancellations in China but net. Even if some of those are restarting like the number of coal power plants that were in the pipeline in China or in India. Five years ago has shrunk by at least three quarters And so we're not quite done building new coal power plants yet. But we're probably you know three or four years away from being almost entirely done. Except for the places that have the very worst wind. In vary verse. Worst I've heard there's been a lot of economic engineering so to speak in China as well creating jobs essentially doing things that don't need doing just to be able to to boost duty being girls so that could potentially be part of restarting the coal. China has become a much more capitalist place over the last decades. But it's still in some ways a command economy and the incentives people are given don't always come down to just market prices so I think a lot of people you know get incented for building infrastructure whether or not it actually gets used which is sort of what you're saying. Yeah exactly that again. We have similar problems here but not not not to be pessimistic. So talking without the future of energy where do you see? The Future of energy going for specifically transportation. I know battery is the big especially in Silicon Valley. I hear people saying that fuel cells actually much more realistic opportunity because the batteries are ridiculously expensive in having. What are your thoughts someone? Who's there in the middle of battery? Electric vehicles have one. They've won for light passenger cars. They probably have one for light and medium trucks like the ups or Fedex truck. That delivers here your packages you and it looks like they're likely to win four for long-range trucks and the reason for that is they. They have a lower part count than a fuel cell vehicle like part of the advantage of battery vehicles if they have one chance. The number of moving parts of gasoline diesel vehicles and add putting in a fuel cell and hydrogen storage. And so on doesn't get you all the way back to the part count of a gasoline vehicle but it adds a bunch of Hampson containment and you have a battery. Cause a fuel cell can't easily go up and down output so it makes it a more complex vehicle to if you imagine your fuel cell with hydrogen. Got a bunch of problems. One you've got to build the infrastructure for hydrogen fueling and battery vehicles benefited. From the fact that everybody's got power at home and power at work and so on so they got to bootstrap off that and to you lose. A bunch of the efficiency gains of Battery Electric Vehicles Today are probably at parody with gasoline. Diesel vehicles in overall cost. If you had not just the cost of buying the car but the maintenance costs are much lower. An electric and the energy cost per mile. Electric is a quarter even at tents. The energy costs per mile of gasoline. But if you want to do a fuel so what happens is and you want the hydrogen to be Carbon. Free what happens? Is you use solar wind or nuclear something carbon-free to make hydrogen and in so doing you lose. Maybe a third of the energy because that's not one hundred efficient process. Then you distribute hydrogen out to places and then you put in also use the fuel cells to turn that back into electricity to run the vehicle your way more of the energy. So you're losing about three quarters of the energy if you do Hydrogen fuel cell type vehicle as opposed to just taking the electricity from power source and routing it straight into the batteries. And so we see this. Toyota is really a company that was most pushing fuel cells and they signed a ten billion dollar. Deal with Panasonic for batteries. Gm says their future is all electric. A Nissan is already going full bore. Electric Volkswagen reeling from diesel. Says they're best fifty billion dollars in an electric vehicles over the next few years. Go ahead how are we in trouble with the amount of rare earth metals that are needed for these lithium specifically? There's GonNa be some challenges. Lithium is one challenge but we have technology in the works at least to extract lithium from places. That can't be economically extracted today so I invested in energy start ups and I've talked to start ups that have ways to a pool. Lithium out of Bryan's saltwater underwater deposits that were once thought to be too low concentration to be economical or that have ways to find a lithium ores and other places or battery-recycling startups several of those around the world. Now so I'm not so worried. Lithium at the bigger challenges cobalt most lithium ion battery chemistries rely on cobalt though to varying degrees and cobalt really comes just from one place the Democratic Republic of Congo. Which is neither Democratic Nor Republic? A out always works yet to put that in the name and and it's and it's a human rights problem do we totally on us There it's it's not a pretty situation so what you see. There is that every battery manufacturer is working on ways true deuce or eliminate the cobalt from their batteries because no one wants dependent on a mineral found one place on earth which China's buying up and investing as much as possible. Sure I mean. China also owns eighty five percent of the battery market now yet. It's incredible there. It is definitely setting up for an interesting power. Dynamic hopefully does not come to something more problematic than economic bullying. I guess well and hopefully it's a win win. There's you know when Chinese manufacturers are making low cost solar panels for instance. It makes it cheaper for people all around the world to deploy solar and thus decarbonised so commerce is a voluntary exchange where both parties feel they benefit. So I'm not as freaked out as others by Chinese owned companies driving so much of The manufacturing of solar batteries. But I do think it was a missed opportunity for the. Us goes could be. Us industry's bringing revenue to the US and jobs in the US. The realistically manufacturer is not coming. Back is too expensive. Maybe actually I think it might have because the one of the great stories of China is back in the eighties nineties. People were complaining about sweatshops but what that was was it was dollars from the US and Europe pouring into China. A fund manufacturing of all sorts there and that has massively uplifted People in China and workers in China and so now the wage disparity between us workers and Chinese workers is growing ever ever smaller so that means at some point it may be cheaper to manufacture stuff closer to the consumer or there might be just last of a global wage imbalance driving some of that a decision of where to put manufacturing. I agree I would think it would go to India or to to Mexico. Also China's so much better manufacturing than we are it's built industry and they wanted more might've my background was ECOMMERCE and trying to work with you as factors nightmare. They wouldn't even reply. They were too lazy. That's fair I will say one more thing about transportation. We hit an amazing point. Maybe last year we had a couple points so it or a while now analysts like Bloomberg managing finance have been saying that at the rate at which electric cars are grown allergy vehicle. Sales are growing the peak year for sales of gasoline and diesel. Cars would come in the next few years like maybe twenty twenty three twenty twenty two so not the end of sales but from that point on annual sales of combustion engine cars. It'd be declining. That point might of happened already. It almost certainly happened in China. It probably happened about June of two thousand eighteen in China. Two thousand seventeen overall for China was a bigger sales year for combustion. Engine cars the two thousand eighteen was in June might have been the the highest months the China will ever see and it might have even happened globally last year every forecast now calls for twenty nine hundred lower sales year for combustion engine cars and by the time that sort of cyclic a change in the marquette a comes back around and the whole starts growing electric vehicles maybe taking up all of the growth. So we're not certain that peak still might be out in twenty twenty one twenty two but we might have hit the peak of the traditional auto industry last year. Let's play devil's advocate. How much of that do you think is due to the the improvements in cost benefits electric vehicles? And how much of it do you think is due to the fact of? Hey Mom. Don't buy a new car because everything's going Thomas and you know I don't think Autonomy has really affected the upgrade cycle as it were yet. I don't think people decides the listeners of your podcast. Of course I'm sure are aware of all of this. I don't think mom is delaying car purchase. Because they're attacking me either. There's more to global macro stops that affected twenty nine hundred versus twenty eighteen. But a lot of what's driven. It is sort of just this feedback loops that happens between policy that forces or subsidizes a deployment of the new tack and then the learning rate of new tech which is to say that as you grow volume of electric car sales. The price of electric cars drop Aso policy starts starts off prime pomp or really in this case. Tesla did an amazing job. You know Ilana wrote this posed by Tesla secret master plan back a two thousand six or so where he said. Look we'RE GONNA sell a quarter million dollar sports car. We'RE GONNA change the world we're GonNa Save the planet and climate lured by selling a quarter million dollar sports car. Obviously that's not going to do much but we'll use that as the starting point to get us to building an eighty thousand dollar luxury car okay. That's still too expensive will use that scaling to get to the point of building a thirty five thousand dollar sort of family heart which there you know. I think under forty three thousand for the model three and fat that feedback. Loop of getting more scale lets you. You know reinvest innovate on the platform. Innovate of the manufacturing bringing down the prices which Dan means you can get more scale as your product is cheaper. That's a virtuous cycle. It's a flywheel is Alan's I would say and that's really changing the world and is incredible in what's happening would love to. He's doing trying to do the same thing with spacex well at a it's fascinating to see and that is for people listening that want to solve a big problem. What are the small steps to get to the big problem so speaking of big problems? I hear you until you're one of those silicon valley guys that wants to live forever and it's focused on longevity. You're going to be more than human. You're not actually I wrote it. I've got this book. Came out in two thousand three more than human to enforce. I got where I talked about. Technology and science to slow down the aging process. Honestly that has come along a much more slowly than I expected. I think some of you our listeners will understand this. Analogy biology is code. But it's Spaghetti Code if not documented and everything has a side effect on everything else. So it's been very very hard dash actually make headway in that area. I sort of keep a pulse on what's happening in longevity research and a longevity startups and most of what's out there that's kissed the public as longevity is really like increasing a health span lowering your odds of dying up to a certain point so. I think we're GONNA see people especially in fairly affluent country who are affluent themselves living increase to ninety one hundred hundred five and living with more vitality living younger with morehouse more independence. But I don't really see a lot out there that suggests to me that we're gonNA break the the limit of roughly a hundred and twenty years of life anytime soon anytime soon would would you put twenty fifty years on that fifty years from now that'll be an average or do you think that's too. You know maybe in fifty years it'll be possible to start pushing the envelope. I think what's going to happen. Is that overall? Life expectancy will continue to to rise rapidly in the developing world right. Global expectancy was thirty some years in one thousand nine hundred. It was sixty six years in two thousand. So that's really. Infant mortality infectious disease will keep nipping. Those things in the bud and life expectancy at age forty will keep rising to get better at heart disease better cancer all of those sorts of things so fifty years from now the average American who's born fifty years from now might live ten years longer than they do today. Something like that especially if we can get a grip on some of the issues of poverty and depression and opiates right. Now that are that are causing some early mortality. Will we really have widespread technology that lets a lot of people live longer than a hundred years? I'm doubtful it could happen. But I'm down for one of the debates at Singularity University. You know a little contentious at times I would say I think the thing that non biologists seldom grasp. But I'm a non biologist myself but I've been forced to grapple with this is just how complicated biology is and how easy it is in seeking to improve something to break things at even if you tweak exactly a gene that you wanted to tweak and you get the effect that you wanted you don't see the fight effects coming. Here's an example. There's a gene in mice I. G. F. One if we turn it off those mice live forty percent longer. Now it's like one hundred percent longer in fruit flies. Four hundred longer in nematodes little tiny roundworms so how humans tweaking that gene might only be like ten percent. Something like that. Who knows really? But if you do the rats they also end up as dwarfs the don't get nearly as bic right so it's not. It's not a trivial problem to change. Just one thing in biology. We know people used to be shorter Def definitely has its perks. the smaller. You are the less you need to burn through you. Invested Investigating Caribous Life Sciences. Wasn't that the company that had that the crisper patent dispute I did yeah. Caribou with Jennifer Dude Nye. The person who I think most scientists give the credit to for Crisper is a company invested in through my good friend Dr Jenny Rock Who through her Angel Syndicate and now she's She's really focusing her time on her venture fund a Genoa partners and yeah. I couldn't resist that. The platform technology right. Something like Crisper is a platform technology for biology. It's a a new better editor that you can use for a whole lot of things and it seems that Just the last few weeks. There's been some good news for UC Berkeley and probably for Caribou on that. That in dispute as well. I didn't know that that would be a lot of money. I think what's going to happen. It's probably a hadn't a truce is I think. People are thinking most likely now where both parties where he three different parties. That have some claim. They're all get to make use of the patent and honestly even originally crisper cast nine is probably GonNa be supplanted by newer and better crisper variants and other genetic techniques overtime and like. You said editing. One thing often has multiple side effects sickle cell sickle cell. The movie also. You NOT GET MALARIA. So two sides of the same coin so I want to transition a little bit in do brain to point out. This was kind of the genesis of your books which you did pretty darn well with those books they are. They are popular sort of right time. Right place the nexus series. I'm delighted that that they spoke to people in what was the. What was the reason why they spoke to people? Talk a little bit about the premise of connecting brains. And what you've been seeing today real-world these people because they touched on a couple of different things one. The premise of the technology was that we would have a noninvasive brain tech swallow a vial of a silvery metallic fluid. It's sold a party drug. It gets into your brain and attacked us during your and gives you basically Wi fi or you would have the same same thing. So I think that was sort of William Gibson talked about cyberpunk but something for the elite and think about technology like mobile phones being incredibly democratize getting up to billions of people so if we could have frantic and basically anyone could habit. What's interesting there? And then I think you know the brain is is where we all live and I think this the explorative how it affects people personally touched people and I also use those books polemic against the war on drugs and war on terror and I think that was right time right place. So that's what got attention for them. I think in terms of where we are on BRAINIAC in. There's a flurry of activity right now. The brain is also a very very hard place to work in. The first rule of medicine is do no harm and so we have to be very very cautious when working on humans in general that sad. There's a raft of companies out there. My friend Brian Johnson. His company Karnal is working on a next generation direct brain computer interface technology to. Let's connect our brains to a software or the cloud of course has narrow link working on a different sort of a brain computer interface technology. I've been lucky enough to spend time with both Brian and not with Lan but with team at Niro Link on Mary Lee. Jepsen has open water working on using lasers that China through the first few millimeters of your cortex an ultrasound to do bank -puter interface. So there's just so much happening at the same time it's just it's the brain so it's really hard and I think it will take longer than I predicted in my Sifi for this sort of technology to really come to. Fruition will lead the multiple species a few minutes as some people. Opt for some people opt against. I mean you know my girlfriend and I argue that. She's in the apple species and I'm in the android species so I think that's sort of a level of these things. I don't really think we're going to have gone away. Bifurcation of humans or some people talk about runaway inequality I address this in more than human. What if some people have the economic means to upgrade themselves and others? Don't and then upgrading yourself. Lets you make more money while that are runaway dynamic? Yeah it could be but we used to worry about the digital divide to. We used to worry that only the rich would have access to a PC's and you know nicest Baud Modems right and that would be a driver can equality but overwhelmingly digital technology has been a driver of more equality of opportunity not more inequality global basis on a local basis. You know it's on a local basis. I think there's really sort of three different parts of this. One is the on the people who are consuming the technology. What is it due to the rich and the poor and I would say on a local basis. There's a a case be made in the. Us that the cheap ubiquitous digital tech uplift people who were low income more than it does people were high income levels that playing ground. If you know twenty years ago if you were are quite wealthy you can have access to a Bloomberg trading terminal and have access to all these information sources. We'd have to pay through the nose for it now. Anybody in America. The smartphone has it so it's level. The playing field is a different phenomenon. Which is it does lead to tremendous economic returns for the people that invent an own those digital platforms. And that's really because of of network events us because that if you create something digital and especially if it has a network effect you can scale it to a gigantic audience in a way that we couldn't scale old jobs if you were a factory worker. If you're even playwright or an actor in the era of just plays where theater. There's a limit how he'll you could reach. Once we had movies and one actor could reach a billion people then you had this huge inequality among actors Anna concentration of the wealth of actress wanting to just the ones that were big blockbuster stars and that's what's happening in tech. It's not about the consumers. It's that the people that make the platforms that each the most. Can you eat these enormous benefits even if their garbage movies like Box No comment talking with your eyes closed. So I haven't haven't seen it. I haven't seen it either but it's pretty pretty subpar reviews but I don't think there's going to be some type of. Let's say you were a hundred points higher than I was or fifty. This wouldn't be a very interesting conversation. Won't we will be reached the point where there are those differences not necessarily economic but driven by economics where the rich have smarter more attractive longer. Living Children. Why would they be interested in someone who is kind of like you talking to a five year old? Do we risk that dynamic as we mess with potentially intelligence. I mean we have some of that dynamic in society today to be clear so there's more a sort of meeting in the US than ever before which is to say that people seek out spouses of similar educational level similar economic background of their families and a similar politics and that's a stronger force in the US than it is today and if you look at what's happening education in the US family backgrounds that the number one predictor kids from families in the bottom twenty percent by income enter school two years behind kids in the top twenty percent at first grade and they stay that far behind throughout their schooling career. It's the impact of that is the differences in educational outcomes are less about how the schools are and more about. What's the home environment that you have? So that exists today and I think that's a problem society working one and I'm actually optimistic about digital tech upper transforming that if you look at some of the APPS that cost a few bucks or are free that you can get on a tab left. You've got APPs for little kids that are you know really immersive. That are teaching them to read to math and teaching them science and so on so I actually have some hope that whether or not we get universal pre-k we have this opportunity to technology to level that playing ground. I am now bring it back to what you're talking about genetic engineering or bring your faces. I'm super dubious. That will drive more change like a parents are so conservative about things they do with their kids. You ask any parent what they want for their kid when they're pregnant. They'll say we WANNA health kit at we're talking about before has all these risks as a parent is going to do something. Let's say we want to boost their intelligence while the single oleo single Jeanrenaud of that has the highest correlation with IQ is an appeal of the COMP gene and it may be accounts for you know a Navy a couple of points for like a couple percent of the deviation of the distribution in I humans great. Let's boost it well. The version of that the appeal of that that gives the greatest odds of higher. I Q also increases your risk of schizophrenia. So how many parents are GonNa do not many more broadly if you look at the evolution of tack when I talks I show this image from the film Wall Street where Michael Douglas. Who's the patience billionaire that you love to hate to show how rich he is? They've got the scene filmed with him and his mobile phone. And it's like this is of brick some Motorola dyn attack. It would cross about ten grand in today's money and nobody can. They would buy it. So what happens? Is that the rich pay through the nose to be early adopters and a couple of years later new ways of technology show up. That are both better that give more benefits and are cheaper so to me. That's a democratizing effect. And that's a leveling of playing field rather than a concentration of wealth. I agree as long as it's not layer in technology. If his layering technology built upon on a previous version. There could be problems. That could be even so you know it stuff gets cheaper and cheaper and cheaper so you have my friend catered to say that a tribesmen in rural Africa with a smartphone has more access to information. Ronald Reagan did when he was president of the wealthiest and most powerful country planet earth. I that's that's a tremendous sea change and that's what happens technology. What TRENDS TECHNOLOGIES? Are you most excited or interested in these days? We'll cleantech you know. Solar Wind batteries Digital layers on top of that platform technologies in Biology. Like crisper platform technologies in materials materials genome. And things like that but really if I ask you know what's having the greatest impact worldwide. It's really the spread of smart Super capable super cheap mobile devices that connect to a in the cloud. That's what is going to put this gigantic amount of power in the hands of billions of people and were were on the verge basically getting to real time speech translation so you can imagine that You know today. Three billion people have used the Internet. You can imagine in ten years. Almost every planet earth has a a smart device whereas a smartphone or a are glasses. I don't know that as a camera that has video and audio that has super high speed Internet and they can access all of the world's information ornoff lot of it all of the it course and have it realtime translated into their language and that gives me chills and to have conversations with others as well which infinitely expensive on that. What are you worried about most? Well you know. I am an optimist sometimes cynical actress but I have always believed that greater. Connectivity would drive greater empathy and greater compassion and I think it will I think as you're saying that conversing I think if we could have real time speech translation of people from other cultures have more cross cultural empathy at the same time. We've always known that the Internet let little subcultures form that didn't have critical mass. You know when I was in college it clear that Internet newsgroups on the days of the web were leading. Goff's maybe there was one kid in the single rural town who felt a little out of place and not kid could find his or her tribe online and feel connected them which is awesome but it's also letting tribes of hate form and amplifying their voices and that concerns me. I still think empathy is winning. I think if you look at opposing surveys. America's moving to the left despite was happening in elections and especially younger generations are tremendously more tolerant than older ones but small pockets of angry people can spread a lot of vitriol and incite. A lot of negative action are using the same digital platforms. That can bring us together. Twitter ZESCO. How do we fix something or bad? Basically the problem something like that. And if I had a solution for that that'd be a billion dollar Values Oh yeah. I don't think I do as yet it'd be a billion dollar value or more like could probably be free. It'd probably be something that could focus on money. That may in fact be the problem you have value and cost are different. It might be trillion dollar value. That's not monetize exactly like the guy who gave up the the patent for whatever the cure for pneumonia justin. Just it's A. It's the right thing to do. What's the most interesting thing you've seen in the last week last week? Well I'm fascinated by the green new deal and I'd actually stayed off of twitter a fair bit lately but one evening were snowed in here in Seattle and so I started a a tweet storm. I guess on the green new deal and US some kind of policies and it was fascinating to see the engagement Twitter is not just accessible. It's actually a place where ideas can spread. Experts can intersect Ordinary people can get engaged. people who have expertise in one narrow way can pipe in and add value. And so I felt like the global brain was at work positive way and if you wanted to leave people with one thing it could be a quote a call to action a book to check out anything before you tell them a little bit more about you where they can find you. What would it be and why I say that future isn't static? The world has gotten tremendously better. That is the trend and that trend will probably continue but it's also gotten better because people have worked their butts off to make better and I quote. There is the best way to put it. The future is to invent it. And that's what I urge your listeners to do which is something you've been doing for quite a while. Where's the best place for people to find you learn more about your vastly diverse overweight random and on twitter? I'm at Ramez at. Ram Easy or on the web. At Rama's NAM Dot Com clearly in early guy to the Internet. If you got at Rome as well played well played. Thanks so much for coming on today. Ross thank you a pleasure. Thanks for tuning guys. If you've had fun you know what to do. Share this with a friend or family member so that we can get out there and expose the I almost said sled. Trumpian thing expose ourselves to the world. That would be lovely. Now get out in front of more people and try to make an impact. Thanks for today. Run. It's my pleasure. Thank you. Thanks for your patience in the and staying on. May for how long it took to get scheduled. Now no worries no worries steers guys. If you want more of the disrupters you can subscribe to the podcast on Itunes or go to disruptors dot. Fm where you'll find tons of audio and video interview stories with leaders in the fields of genetics crypto currency longevity Ai Space Vr. And much. Much more you can also follow me on twitter at Matt Ward. I L if you enjoyed the show. Please leave a quick review on itunes at disruptors DOT FM slash tunes to help more people. Discover the PODCAST and help us make a bigger impact.

Coming up next