Daily Balajisms - Purpose of tech is longevity
Technology buys us time
The proximate purpose of technology is to reduce scarcity. But the ultimate purpose of technology is to end mortality, writes Balaji Srinivasan.
Technology allows us to do more with less. To make things better, faster, cheaper, and smaller. To move the Pareto-frontier and reconcile previous trade-offs.
Take Tesla – the company made EVs go mainstream and produces safer cars than Volvo, faster cars than Porsche and cheaper cars than Volkswagen. EVs have 100x less parts than ICE cars.
Balaji gives an example of Haber-Bosch process and the subsequent Green Revolution that fed billions of people – a literal reduction of scarcity thanks to technology.
In a very deep sense tech founders are more inclined to have the positive-sum mentality that Balaji describes as the win-and-let-win ideology. Because unlike heirs, tech founders started often from nothing and build empires from scratch – they saw how the proverbial pie can grow. Balaji calls this founding vs inheriting. Built-rich is very different from born-rich.
Mortality is the ultimate source of scarcity, explains Balaji. We value speed, because we value time. And we value time, because our lifespans are finite. Our healthspans are shorter yet. Therefore, life extension is the most important thing we can invent.
But longevity is still a niche area of research and investments, and age reversal was a controversial topic just a few years ago, says David Sinclair. Longevity can be a $100T wealth unlock - like China after Deng Xiaoping.
Balaji thinks that it is easier to start a new country than to reform the FDA. Same as it was easier for Satoshi to create bitcoin, than to reform the Fed. But we need bits to reform the physical world of atoms. Because bits help us to organize highly-aligned communities of tech progressives.
Balaji’s motivation for writing The Network State book and making network states a reality is driven by his desire to unlock innovation in longevity.
People with STEM backgrounds have a duty to advocate technological progress on a daily basis. Because you might not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you. We need to create a parallel tech-driven decentralized media ecosystem with thousands of movies like Super 30 or Limitless, says Balaji.
“This could be us, but you are regulating”, says Balaji, paraphrasing the popular meme. If Covid vaccines were shipped earlier, using voluntary challenge trials, thousands of lives could be saved - daily.
Innovations in space travel and the mission of SpaceX to colonize Mars is also an indirect example how technology reduces existential risk of humanity dying out. And we need longevity to reach other planets.
Balaji says that technology is both the cause and the solution to all of life’s problems, jokingly paraphrasing Homer Simpson.
To extend the concept of technology supporting life further, according to thinkers like Forrest Landry and Alexander Bard, technology should be used to improve biodiversity and climate. We can terraform Mars and deserts on earth.