Thoughts from Miami
Not a review, hopefully it's interesting
I recently went to an event which was a meeting of the minds of tech and policy in Miami. There was a clear lean towards libertarian values and world views, which is not something I encounter every day. I had a lot of thoughts and observations after many interesting conversations.
I was given the advice to ignore the extremes, and to focus on working with the ones who will work together. I think this makes sense, but feel that you can’t ignore things (for example Qanon) which might result in political violence. For example, I met a lot of people who seem to be taking cues from Peter Thiel and Curtis Yarvin that it’s time to transition to a monarchy. This stems from the idea that having a strong, charismatic leader who creates a cult around them is the best way to build a startup. A monarch could just run the country like a startup, right? Except this country is much more diverse, and not driven purely by profit. I just can’t understand how one can honestly try to impose startup methodologies on something as large as the United States.
We can’t solve everything through business. I was happy to hear this admission. Which led to the next thought that we need competent and effective government. I don’t think this will happen until it needs to happen (like Operation Warp Speed only happened when it was needed). Or until culture encourages more folks to try to be involved.
The US needs to appreciate the diversity we have and find common ground in our values. What is our own personal history, what are our common values? I think we can agree on getting back to the basics of understanding what the constitution is, how government is structured and functions, would do a lot to create interest and engagement. We also need to be able nest our government against the history of other republics, and what the existing regimes are in the world so we have some context. Understanding how our personal history ties in with the history of the US is also important and helps us understand and not take for granted what we have. We do need some better communications - united communications around our history and values.
We are feeding our spirit with conspiracy, and degrading our mental capacities for analysis and long term thinking. This all ties to the decline of common cultural institutions like religion, and the high consumption of content on social media.
The US should be strong and not shrink from leading in the world - we need to stand up against aggression. We need to be strong in the face of mal actors, with room to negotiate.
What are the expectations of the elite? This was an interesting concept to explore and define. Someone said anyone making over $100,000 is an elite. I don’t personally agree with this idea and think that we need more informed folks from all backgrounds, not just the “elites”.
Tech and civil liberties. We have tech monopolies which act as private arbiters of data and information. Cory Doctorow said there are two ways to fight these monopolies of data and information - can either fight tech monopoly through code, or legal means. I feel like a history of the internet and broader awareness of how data and information is manipulated is very important.
VCs talking about investing in hardware/industry is great - would be nice to have a more data rich conversation about what it takes to partially re-shore industry. I also want to see a conversation with representation by software and manufacturing to have it be more well-rounded.
I wonder why there is an odd dichotomy of elites dreaming of a utopian libertarian “network state”, while making the majority of their money from the government. Is it a lack of awareness, or cynical marketing?