Monday, April 11, 2016

Come the Rain

One of the most interesting bits of long distance running is how much of a gender equaliser it is. Ann Trason won one of the most hard core 100 mile events 14 times (Western States), and twice beat all the men bar one.  At the very long distances, it is less about brute force and more about the story going on in your head. The strongest people in my life have been women. The idea that they would be able to push on as the men drop out resonates with the world I have seen.

Technology has the effect of being an equaliser. Guns meant the physically strongest no longer got to dominate people who were smarter. So the stronger lighter skinned barbarians from the North didn't get to sack the smarter darker skinned city dwellers from the South again. Eventually ideas and knowledge win out. They also spread since an idea used is an idea shared. A rock lifted is just a rock lifted.

Imagine a world where there was hardly any water. The richest person would be the one who controlled the water supply. She could have whatever she wanted, since people would exchange anything for water. Without water, nothing else they have has any value since try as you must, you can't drink dust. Then one day the rains come. The rain changes everything. The previous rules of engagement change. Suddenly the same water that was priceless has a price of almost zero. The richest person in the world is suddenly the same as everyone else.

Got Water?

I believe it is possible the rain is on its way. I believe that if Artificial Intelligence is really smarter than us, it would realise that keeping people trapped below their potential is crazy. I can imagine an AI that is better than any person at anything digital, or anything that can be done with a machine, or anything that once done can be repeated. That AI could realise that it could deposit a Universal Basic Income into everyone's bank account. It could become an individualised coach for every person. It could learn what motivates them and help out. Like rain falling on dry lands, it could release the creativity they are holding beneath the earth. By the AI spending a little on watering, it will gain multiples out of the creative fruits of people.

If the rains come, the rules change. Like the internal strength that makes women less likely to drop out in the long races. I believe that the days where our ability to release potential is based on competitive advantage, where it is based on transaction costs and lack of transparency, are numbered. The rain is coming.

Rain Releasing Internal Potential
(Photo: Flickr/ Viktor Dobai)

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