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Naval Ravikant on NZ as a Tech Hub


(applause) – So, you know, within crypto today, there are sort of three interesting categories of base blockchains There's the Bitcoin blockchain, which is optimized for security and decentralization, so if you are trying to redefine money that thing better be secure and it better be split up across lots of people

There's the Ethereum blockchain, which is optimized for programmability So if you wanna build a shadow financial system you wanna do derivatives, options, escrow, contracts, stable coins, prediction markets, all of these things, those need rich application programming interfaces, which is a direct trade off with security because the more programmable something is, the more doors there are into that system, the more avenues of attack there are And the more complicated it is, the harder it is to scale but the more applications it can be used for And that's kind of where Ethereum and dozens of other blockchains actually compete, but Ethereum is the best known And there's sort of this sector of privacy coins, which include Zcash and Monero and a bunch of others and that's all around replacing cash with digital cash so it's anonymous, it's protected

But you can some really cool things with cryptography, like with something called zero-knowledge proofs, where I can like pay my taxes, I can prove that I paid my taxes, but nobody other than me and the IRS knows how much was paid, event though it's done on a public blockchain or you could build a voting base blockchain where each of us can cast a vote, each of us can check that our vote was properly recorded and tallied, with exactly what we put in there, but nobody else can see our vote Only we each can see our vote And the system collects all the votes and gives the right provably, mathematically provably right answer, but nobody's in charge Nobody other than the individual who cast the vote has the ability to go in and change their vote or count it or not count it So these kinds of systems can be developed in top blockchain technology

So I think those are the three most interesting categories right now We will see more categories emerge later, but that's sort of where the token field plays out – And, great summary With regards to tokens, and then especially in the New Zealand context, I'm curious if you could wave a magic wand, if you were a regulator, and say okay, here's the kind of environment and policy environment strategy as a country around tokens, what would be some of the things? – Yeah, so in the US there was, or even globally, there was sort of a free for all with ICOs, where people were selling coins very liberally to anyone who would come along and we suddenly went from no fundraising online to fundraise anywhere, anytime online People raise ridiculous amounts of money, and now we've sort of swung the pendulum all the way back, where the regulators have said well this is a security and everything falls back under the old school securities laws

And those are extreme so I think a lot of companies now that are building actual utility tokens are trying to sort out how this works So in the US we have Verizon and AT&T and a few others, right? But telecom carriers tend to be monopolies or oligopolies They're not the fastest moving They don't necessarily give you high bandwidth wherever you want it, whenever you want it And today we have the capability, for example, to stitch together Wi-Fi networks

You know how everyone has Wi-Fi networks in their homes but they leave them closed because there's no real incentive to open them up It kind of opens you up to hacking, but you could imagine a world in which the Wi-Fi access points have an incentive mechanism built in, where if I open up my Wi-Fi access point anyone going by can use it and their phone will automatically connect and pay some micropennies using a Wi-Fi coin and I'll collect the Wi-Fi coin in my network and that will be credit for me so that when I go traveling I can use other people's Wi-Fi access points and it's now all done seamlessly And wherever there are gaps in coverage, entrepreneurs will say oh, I can make a lot of Wi-Fi coin by dropping a Wi-Fi access point here So you could use a blockchain based network to create a global distributed Wi-Fi network that would be very high bandwidth throughput maintained by all the nodes and owned by nobody and would be upgraded on demand, just based on where there were usage needs Now, to create that kind of a network, now let's say I'm a group of developers who creates that network, what I'll do is early on I'll program the network to give a lot of tokens to the people who are providing the first Wi-Fi access points

So in a sense I'm boot strapping the network, and what I'm basically saying to them is like if you're an early adopter, your Wi-Fi tokens are gonna be worth a lot more later and you'll be able to get a lot more Wi-Fi credit or even sell it for cash Same way if I was trying to compete with Uber with a blockchain based network, the early drivers would get a lot of compensation in my new Uber coin so that when my Uber beats the normal Uber, they'll be rich because they took risk early on by driving people around before there were enough riders So tokens kind of can help bootstrap networks and solve the cold start problem that networks suffer from But now, in the regulatory environment we're in, these are all considered securities So under securities law, I can't just distribute you a Wi-Fi coin or an Uber coin because I have to worry about did I comply with securities laws, am I ripping you off, are you speculating? And there's such onerous restrictions that it basically just kills the whole thing

So, at least in the US, we seem to have gone from this model of everything is a utility token to everything is a security token And that kind of uncertainty is making it very hard to innovate So one example that I think a forward-looking regulator could do is they could say okay, when things have a dual use case, like a utility token and a security token, we will err on the side of letting it be used for utility early on We're gonna work with the companies to have a clear, regulatory framework And then you could see a whole bunch of companies that want to experiment with utility tokens basing out of here and bootstrapping large networks that could then eventually go on and compete globally

Because it is the nature of these things to be winner take all So if we build a ride sharing coin that takes away from Uber or we build a Wi-Fi coin that takes away from Spark or Verizon, that's gonna be a global network This is what's interesting about crypto, you can launch a crypto company from here than can literally take over the whole world There are no barriers to adoption in crypto There's no language barriers, there's no app store download barriers, there's none of that

So if you had a friendly regulatory environment here you could literally build the internet and financial system that runs the world 20 years from now instead of everyone here being a vassal of Facebook or Google or YouTube You know, if they're all using a New Zealand developed property and all the people here who adopted those coins early on would actually be fabulously wealthy Let me give you the extreme example The extreme example is if I was a dictator for a day, (laughs) you know, I would probably just go through the top 20 coins, the tokens on Coin Market Cap and crypto, and I would figure out which ones have very high quality code, like Bitcoin for example, is very well maintained, but I'd find like a fork of Bitcoin that still has a really good developer base and is well maintained but relatively low priced Like the whole thing is worth a few billion dollars

I would secretly buy up as much of it as possible (laughs) And these are unregulated markets for the most part so there's no disclosure rule but let's say the government of New Zealand buys up half of a $5 billion coin And then basically announce that we're going to start making this coin legal tender over the next decade We'll slowly start weaving it into the economy, people would pay taxes on it, we'll roll it into credit cards, people start accepting it, you can bank with it, we'll pay interest on it, you know just start making it legit and viable Now all of a sudden, you have a winner in the cryptocurrency wars

You've anointed a winner You've basically said here is a coin in a major country that all of us take this And it'll create what in game theory is called a shelling point for the rest of the crypto universe to coalesce around So all of the developers will start building for it, people will start storing value and wealth in it, people will start building on top of it And that coin will end up winning the crypto wars with a very high likelihood and it could be worth hundreds of billions of trillions of dollars and as early adopters, New Zealanders would get filthy rich

So basically today there is no government that has put its weight behind any cryptocurrency Whichever cryptocurrency gets a legitimate government putting their weight behind it first will win the crypto wars Winning the crypto wars is worth a minimum of $10 trillion, which is the value of gold, not even counting all the other use cases, and so if you're willing to be the first one out there and put your neck out there and bet on that your people benefit You're essentially the founding shareholders of that thing And maybe it's not 50%

Maybe you keep 10 or 20% and the rest of the world splits 80 but either way you've sort of disproportionately batted out of your weight And the key observation here is a lot of crypto is just norms It's like we're trying to establish do you drive on the left side of the road or the right side of the road? Do you speak English or do you speak Moari or do you speak Japanese, right? We're trying to decide on norms But these are financial norms so if you are the one who establishes the financial norms for the world then you have the benefit, the financial benefit, of those stored assets So that is an example of how one could hack the system

– And you have a tweet that says you get paid for being right first and to be first you can't wait for consensus – That's right To make money, especially in a financial context, or to kind of win these sorts of situations, waiting for consensus is expensive, right? By the time everybody, like we say in Silicon Valley, if you wanna make a good venture investment you wanna be non-consensus right, right? If you make a wrong investment, you lost your money If you make a right investment, you can make money But if it's conventional wisdom, if it's consensus that it's heavily competed, the prices are bid up you're not gonna make that much money

So you get paid for being non-consensus right And non-consensus, especially in a technology context, means being first So you take risks And this is trite and over-communicated but Silicon Valley places zero penalty on failure, essentially Because we know that you're gonna fail nine times out of 10 or even 99 times out of 100, but the one time you win the victory is 1,000 fold, 10,000 fold, 100,000 fold

And that's just a consequence of us now operating in virtual and intellectual domains instead of physical domains We're evolved for the physical world, where it's like one input, one output You spend one resource, maybe you win one back But in the digital world it's very different You know, you have almost unlimited upside if something works and you have very limited downside

One of the sad things is, it probably is just as hard to start a successful restaurant as it is to start a successful tech company Restaurant owner's working just as hard They're working to the maximum number of hours that they have, and they're putting all their time and effort into it But the starting of Facebook, you have an unlimited market of 7 billion people and you can just stamp that product out with no marginal cost of replication So in the digital world, the upside on the winners is so large that there's almost no such thing as risk

– And on that point about being first, what advice would you have as a culture within New Zealand, but also what advice would have to entrepreneurs in terms of cultivating that willingness or that courage or whatever those ingredients are to go be first on something? – At least in the technology business, whatever the geeks are doing in their garage on weekends is what the entire world will be doing 20 years later as a mainstream thing So you sort of have to have a culture of tinkering, experimentation, following intellectual curiosity You know, for example, all of the weird things that you guys do in terms of environmental conversation, recycling, composting, all the strange little technologies that seem idiosyncratic, you can see how those will eventually, the ones that work will be transported out to the whole world But that is true all across technology The story of technology is one monkey discovers fire and then everyone starts discovering fire because they can spread that

So the beauty of it is that just one person has to figure out how to do it and then everybody can do it But you're not gonna figure that out unless you have people who are obsessive tinkerers You have to be kind of obsessive about weird things The good founders tend to be strange The good businesses all look strange at first

It's only in hindsight that they become accepted asset classes So, for example, when Microsoft was first funded, before their IPO, back then people didn't used to invest in software companies Venture investors thought that you could only make money in hardware What, you're just selling bits? You can't do that People can just copy that

There's no money in bits But then Microsoft came along And then nobody thought that a pure cloud services business could be that big, but then you have Google come along, right? And up until then venture capitalists wanted to invest in paid software, not free services Or it was a media company like Yahoo You know, you can make analogies to media to make money

When Uber came along, a lot of VCs passed because the belief was we don't invest in atoms We only invest in bits We don't invest in moving physical people around That's not what venture capital does That's private equity

So every great business just looks weird at first It breaks the paradigm in some way But every terrible business also looks weird at first, right? (laughs) This is true in humans, too To the average person, a genius is indistinguishable from a mad person or very close to it, but there's 1,000 of them and 999 are crazy and one is a genius and the art is in picking out who that person is or the environment picks that person to stand out eventually And actually, many of those so-called mad people aren't actually mad

They're just mistimed genius, right? So it's just the nature of the beast that you're gonna have to figure out where the needle is in the haystack And that's just a process of constant experimentation And so a lot of time, people look at Silicon Valley and they say oh, it's so wasteful Why do you have 1,000 incubators? You only need one Wicom knitter Why do you have so many investors? You just need a few

Why do you have so many companies? Most of these companies are doing useless things There's no way to tell which ones are useful or useless until you run the race It's actually we're at a horse track, right? It's like why do we have horse races to figure out who the winning horse is? Why don't we just pick the winning horse and say that's the winning horse, that's it Only this one's gonna go around the track Right? (laughs) Well, you have to run the race to see who the winning horse is, and you have to do it over and over and over again

And that's what these ecosystems do They run races all day long – And in the New Zealand context, given that we're a small country, how do you think about that tension between running a lot of experiments and having a lot of what could be replicating functions versus kind of tripling down on a couple key winners or industries and the like and how does that potentially look in the development of this ecosystem? – Yeah, it's a tough one You know, as an individual, if all you do is train chase, you will go insane, right? Oh, AI's hot I better go brush up in AI

Well by the time you get good at AI, it'll have moved on to autonomous vehicles So I think you're much better off following your genuine intellectual curiosity rather than chasing whatever is hot right now The equivalent for a nation is whatever it is that you're naturally good at doing and have both geographic and cultural and educational advantages in doing, which somehow aligns in the world stage And I don't know enough about New Zealand to say what that is but you mentioned to me in one of our conversations, for example, that Wellington has a lot of content creation, design, art production capability So, for example, if that was a nationwide strength, you could see okay, maybe we should be looking at VR and AR kind of industries

The crypto stuff we talked about you can combine regulatory arbitrage with we're in three hours from the Pacific west coast in the United States so we have a timezone advantage and it's English speaking and rule of law and non-corrupt and all that and a gateway to Asia Pacific Rim but still from a western host so I think there's multiple places to play in I don't know if it's a top down decision I think maybe it's just a combination of let's have some friendly immigration policies for innovators combined with some friendly regulatory policy for experimenters And you just kind of see what bubbles up There's nobody sitting around Silicon Valley saying what the next big trend is or deciding what it is

What they, rather, are is it's just a good place for the witch's brew of entrepreneurship to come together You just import as much technical talent as you can and you sort of get out of the way – So I'm gonna invite people who have questions, you can start queuing up at the microphone I'm gonna ask a couple more, shifting gears a little bit, before we go to the questions You talk a lot about happiness, and one of your tweets was a rational person can find peace by cultivating indifference to the things outside their control

– Yeah, this is not popular because the current environment is to get interested and outraged about everything and then signal your involvement as a way of sort of getting social validation – Would you call this signaling virtue as a vice? – It's a vice in multiple directions You know, one of the traditional virtues is you don't talk about your virtues, right? Because people who do that, they're signaling a little too hard and then it's a holier than thou sort of thing It also, you can just get trapped in signaling A lot of society is just about signaling, everything from both buying handbags to being a little over the top eco-friendly, right? So really what I mean, the tweet was, and all these tweets are to myself, fundamentally, right? I'm just talking to myself

So if it doesn't make sense to you, that's fine But I'm basically saying and reminding myself that there's a few things in life that I care about and there's a few things in life that any of us can truly, passionately, deeply care about, things that we wanna change and affect And you kind of wanna focus on those and not get distracted by caring about everything that comes along Because we're evolved to live in tribes of 150 people We're not meant to have all of the world's breaking news and emergencies packaged up into click-bait news, attached with graphic images and videos, and delivered to us with your phone buzzing in your pocket

And while I'm saying this, my phone is buzzing in my pocket, right? That might be Twitter alerting me to something horrible that's happening somewhere in the world, right? You're just not meant to take on the entire world's problems all the time It'll just destroy you internally I see that a lot here, for example, in the environmental crusade There's a lot of people here who care a lot about the environment and they're developing technologies and they're fighting hard to save it and that's all great, but just make sure you don't ruin your happiness stressing over every little thing that's wrong with the environment because you can't fix it all And if you destroy yourself in the process, you're just gonna drown

And you can't help people while you're drowning One of the problems I have with the modern environmental movement is that it is a culture of pessimism, and that does not appeal to people It's a culture of fear, and I would rather appeal to people through greed and optimism, which people respond to Instead of saying the world's gonna end unless you do what I say and then, you know, someone will tell me 1,000 ways it's gonna end and I acknowledge all 1,000 and then they're like well I got another 1,000, I got another 1,000 Did you hear about this one? Okay, let's start small

Can we clean up this river? Can we reforest this area? Can we make this person's life better? So I just think that you really have to be indifferent and not in a reactive way Not in a I must be indifferent, just by realizing that if you take on all the world's problems it will destroy you 1,000 years ago, if you saw a murderer, that was a big deal If you saw a dead body, that was a big deal People would talk to you about it for months or years while you tried to get over the trauma of that

But now you turn on the tv, by the age of 18 you've seen thousands of graphic murders Where is that energy being stored inside of you, right? That's damaged your psyche at some deep levels It's desensitized you, right? In some ways we are desensitized to the horrors and then we are constantly being over-sensitized with just this wave of news just constantly coming in And you have to be okay with saying to people, I've got my thing I'm working on it

I'm solving that problem You've got yours, fantastic I'm glad you're solving your problem, but I can't take on all the world's problems Otherwise I become a problem – But on that point, I mean you're extremely well-read and you're in touch with a lot of these exponential technologies and the risks, whether it's AGI or the environmental crisis or synthetic biology and the like and so how do you reconcile that kind of recognition of how enormous, not just the headlines, but how enormous at a deeper level the risks are to everyone and at the same time maintain that equanimity? – I think if you just look at history we got here all right

The world is not perfect, but it's better than it used to be I know that there's a lot of habitat destruction, but I grew up in India just long enough to see what the average person lives like We're extremely lucky The average poor person is getting better off There's good news, too

It's just, you can cherry pick This is why I don't like reading macroeconomics or history because just depending on which data points you pick, you can weave whatever narrative you like And I'm not saying that one has to be a blind optimist, but I think it's rational to see that the average individual human's life is getting better as time goes on Average, right? Not always Not across all domains and disciplines and times, but we are better off than we used to be as a species

Now the Earth may be more vulnerable, but even there you can see that rich societies, wealthy societies start caring about the environment and people are becoming more and more environmentally conscious with every day I think the percentage of people that are environmentally conscious, for example, is not going down It is going up So I think the trend lines are in the right direction And if you want to be effective, if you actually just wanna make a difference, you need your mind rested

You need your body rested You need to be capable And that's not gonna happen if you're just frantic about everything Maybe it's just because I'm also desensitized Right? And I've also been around long enough that I've heard the end of the world thing so many times that even when I say it, and there's a podcast coming up where I talk about it and all the different ways the world could end, I'm actually not that worried about it

The human race seems to be pretty good at figuring these things out But part of the reason it's good at figuring these things out is because certain people do get alarmed at it It's just I'm not gonna get alarmed over every little thing I'm gonna work on my piece You work on your piece

I mean when I see the, now I'm gonna embarrass him but I was at his house, and he's trying to do a zero waste thing where it's literally like every little thing in the house has to be composted The tea bags are folded up and put away and reused and it's insane I look at it and I'm like there's no possible way I could do this and function as a human But I'm hoping you'll figure it out, you will solve it, you will systematize it, and maybe you'll help the rest of us get 80% of the way there Because that's your mission and your pride and your joy that you're working on

It's your tinkering You're tinkering at the edges of environmental science to do that So I think if we each kind of stay focused on our task and do it well without stressing out over the whole world we'll be more effective and we can actually make it – All right Let's open it up

The mic is open We have 30 minutes – I've heard you talk a lot about sort of what sounds to me kind of like consciousness, evolution And I find that it's a very interesting question and I think Elon at one point was also asked something similar, like do you think we'll be able to evolve ourselves through what is now a natural sort of process of us learning through language, et cetera to be able to evolve our consciousness I'm kind of curious, from your perspective, do you see that there's a way that tech will be enabled for us to be able to grow our consciousness over time to effectively accelerate that process? – Yeah, technology is a tool and it can be used for anything, good, evil, whatever, whatever judgment you wanna make

You can use it to increase our consciousness through, you know one thing I was surprised about, is how the mediation apps are all doing really well Like people are using headspace and calm and insight timer and so on And it's becoming a thing, and technology is helping meditation It was bizarre for me, because for me the idea of meditation is like be quiet, dark place I don't want someone talking in my head or telling me what to do, right? So it almost seemed like technology couldn't make a difference there, but yet it has

You could even argue that some of the things that are making a difference in the consciousness movement, everything from so-called plant medicines to yoga, these are ancient technologies that are just becoming more prolific They're becoming more widespread, but they're becoming more widespread as a consequence of technology It feels like everyone in Silicon Valley is going to Peru for mysterious reasons recently, (laughs) but that's facilitated by a technology called airplanes, another technology called the internet So these are tools In terms of like is just technology itself gonna raise human consciousness? I see some interesting experiments

There's this artist, Android Jones, who's doing a lot There are definitely people who are doing things like with brain adaptation, brain wave scanners There's this fantasy of this thing called wireheading, which is really scary and interesting There's a Stanford lab working on this, and wireheading basically says well, your brain is just electrical signals What if I can put a little headband on your head and give you the electrical signal to be happy right now

And it's consequence free It's not like a drug where you have to take it, and it has to hack it's way through your system and go through enzymes and overload your liver and then some small amount cross the blood-brain barrier No, I literally just go and change the dials and now you're happy and you're like well that doesn't feel right I need some meaning in my life Okay, great

Now you have meaning (laughs) But I need love Great, love What else do you want, right? And it sounds really far-fetched, but it's actually not They've already done wireheading on monkeys for the bliss machine, the bliss box, not the meaning box

But right now it involved drilling a hole in your skull so it's not quite ready for prime time But you can imagine that technology will start giving us these answers Another extreme example is, in Roman times one of the ways that you kept the masses from fighting each other all the time was you had bread and circuses, right? Very famously, you give them some bread, you give them some entertainment, they're busy Keep them out of trouble Luckily, modern society, we're very enlightened

We're not gonna be fooled by such things So we have cannabis and video games and Netflix, right? Which are the advanced technological versions I guess it's just a long way of saying technology is a tool You can use it for anything You can use it for consciousness

You can use it for unconsciousness Social media brings people together to form digital mobs to fight each other Right? It can play on both sides And as I said in the morning, unfortunately, I think that in many cases the destructive power of technology arrives before the creative power But the creative capabilities of technology are actually unlimited

Whereas the destructive, it's limited downside You know what happens when you destroy something, whereas when you create something it's almost impossible to predict the levels that it could go to No one sitting around in Jesus's time, for example, could've predicted anything of what is going on here today It would be impossible because the way you can just combine and recombine and recombine and create life and civilizations is unlimited But if you wanna talk destruction, that always ends the same way

It's just barren – Cool All right, next question – Kia ora, we in the room have, we're all mostly facing in the right direction and we're collaborating, but sometimes we find ourselves in competition so can you speak to different kind of ways that we could think around cooperating while we're trying to compete for the same ground or trying to compete for the same investor where we're actually trying to compete against a new way of changing the way the market's trying to think? – I think it's a competition is a terrible trap you can fall into A lot of it comes through, you know if you've read Rene Girard, he's this French philosopher in polymath and he talks about Mimetic Theory, which is most of your desires are actually mimicked from the people around you at a very young age and you take your cues from other people in terms of what to desire, what to go for, and the explicit forms of this are advertising, but the implicit form could be I went to law school

I see everyone competing to get that law clerkship with that Supreme Court Justice and so I believe that's the highest calling when actually the correct answer for me might be to go be a food entrepreneur But I'm just not even thinking about it because I'm in law school, surrounded by law students So there's a way of getting sucked into competition by looking around you And the way to escape competition is through authenticity Because no one can compete with you on being you

No one can compete with your business and doing what it uniquely does The more authentic, and this is the beauty of the internet The internet enables you, no matter how strange or odd or weird or specific you are, to find your tribe You know, you can be obsessed with LEGOs as an adult, and I guarantee you there are enough LEGO collectors out there on the internet that you can make a fortune just collecting and building LEGOs So I think the most successful entrepreneurs are extremely authentic to who they are and what they uniquely can do and as such they don't really operate in competition

And I've learned this the hard way because I'm actually a very competitive person So when I was doing my early career in Silicon Valley, I used to focus on my competition a lot So one of the companies I started was called Epinions, and we did product reviews on the net and it turned into this online comparison shopping site where you could go and compare prices And our fierce competitors were Bizrate and Nextag and I'm trying to think, Price Shopper, and I forget all the names There were about seven of them

And we competed fiercely, and it was just completely wasted time because it turned out that all retail got won by Amazon And all the reviews that we were working on, we should've gone local instead of online price comparison but because we were focused on competition we actually did the wrong things Whereas if we had been authentic to what we really focused on, which was reviews and stuck with that, maybe we would've been Yelp And that entire market just disappeared, and actually all of those founders are now my friends because we commiserate over our experiences together (laughs) So competition is sort of this, it can suck you in into thinking it's the reality, but it's actually not a reality

And the easiest way to see that is think of any human being that you know It can be any single person you know Now think of, if that person was not in your life, who would be the substitute? Who would provide the same demeanors, the same intellect, the same insight, the same behaviors, the same emotional support, the same actions, the answer is no one Every human being is so unique that there is no substitute for them whatsoever And parents who have children see this, right? Like you have three kids and they're all completely different

Like where did that come from? So companies are the same because companies are just collections of humans So if you're competing, you're kind of establishing a similarity to each other that doesn't actually exist And I think even consumers and customers are starved for authenticity They're looking for brands that are unique, that are authentic to the founder, that are expressing something they can't find elsewhere People don't wanna go to Starbucks for their coffee

They wanna go to the local, unique, you know every time you walk into a store now you look to see what's different and what's unique about that store And I think that's a consequence of wealth, it's a consequence of taste, it's a consequence of technology, consequence of individualization But we're coming out of a factory-based, industrial world that was built in the 1800s, where one size fits all for efficiency reasons, and we're heading into a boutique, artisanal world where 7 billion people will want 7 billion products So I would say that yes, competition is a real thing It does exist

I'm not saying it doesn't exist But it actually exists more in fake human made games, like sports and politics, where for one person to be above another person has to be below, right? Those are status games But when it comes to actually creating new things, whether it's ideas or writing books, here's another example No two authors compete with each other You can't take a book and substitute because these are authentic self-expressions of who the author is

And I think all products are headed that way, and all services are headed that way You do not wanna compete You wanna be a market of one – Kia ora So my question is really around the fact that the capital markets and the financial markets need to evolve, and I know that generally things are getting better for some people, but the growth between rich and poor is actually growing, at least in New Zealand

And what do you think that next evolution of the capital markets is? What is a thing that is actually gonna be the step change that we need to bring everyone along for the ride? – Yeah, unfortunately, I don't think that's necessarily a consequence of capital markets that the divide is growing I think it's a natural consequence of technology And this is the unpopular thing to say because you know I'm supposed to sit up here and say how great technology is, and it is But technology is a form of leverage, and it's the ultimate form of leverage If I'm a programmer, what people don't realize is I have a million robots working for me

If I come up with an idea, I code that idea up Now there are a million robots who will carry that idea They're just sitting in a data center for heat and efficiency reasons and space reasons They're loaned to me by amazoncom, who takes a little cut with Amazon web services, but that leverage means that if I decide on the right thing to do versus the wrong thing to do, I can make $100 million or zero dollars

It's a wide swing Whereas for someone who is not leveraged through technology, they don't have that force multiplier So someone who's working a traditional industry does not have that force multiplier So I think when we talk about the distribution of capital, we're used to thinking of money as the main source of capital And before that, the main source of capital used to be people

How many people are working for you, right? That's why like older individuals in society tend to be really impressed by how many people are working for you? And people who are a little more savvy are like how much money are you managing or what kind of revenue are you doing? But really, the correct questions is how many robots are working for you? How many programmers are working for you? How many machines are working for you? Because those are the ultimate force multiplier So I believe that the way out is through technology education And where technology education falls down is that it's really popular to preach education for kids Everybody wants to educate kids Why? Because kids can't talk back

They have no choice Go to school, sit down, shut up, and learn But what about adults? We have this myth that adults can't be educated Adults either self-educate or they can't be educated We have this myth that if you're 45 years old and you lost your job, your factory shut down, that you're done

Your only options now are either you're destitute and we have to figure out how to bail you out as a society or we have to somehow preserve your job through some false tariffs or barriers to trade or whatever Tax breaks for some company, even though the world doesn't need you to do that job anymore Really I think we need to have a culture of adult education What if we had a model where, every four years, you were expected and it was socially and culturally acceptable and there was a financial support that you would go to school for a year? So after every four years, you say okay, now it's my school year and this year I'm gonna go and learn about, I'm gonna learn electronics Like that's the thing that I'm gonna learn this year

And you spend a year going to school learning electronics And you could be 54 years old learning electronics, and I think that should be a valid part of society We need continuous education to be built into society because the leverage that you're craving, the leverage that you're asking for is actually permissionless It's available to everybody, but it's knowledge based The gate to it is not some banker sitting on a pile of money, although that would be good too if that released, but the gate to it is really knowledge

And it's the building of that knowledge and the sharing of that knowledge – I would think that the gate is actually community and how you activate them around what you're doing, but it's a discussion for later – Sure, I mean that's also, there's many ways to get that out there You're not gonna be able to learn that kind of thing without massive community support, for sure – Thanks, Anna

– Hello, thank you so far I'm hearing lots of talk that decentralization comes with some promise We're talking about collaboration as well, and there's a lot of good will and intent that's certainly in the room We fiddled a little bit about that already I'm trying to reconcile that with a statement you made earlier that winner take all when it comes to blockchain technology

Is that really the position, that it's winner take all? And if so, should I be talking to Alpha back there because it sounds like he's sorting some cool stuff – It's winner take all in the sense that blockchain technologies are really protocols And protocols are how we communicate things, communicate information with each other So they are winner take all by nature For example, language is a protocol

Within New Zealand, people are speaking English and Maori and that's it If I were to launch an effort to speak Hindi in New Zealand, it just wouldn't get very far It's inconvenient Everybody has already established English and Maori and they wanna communicate in those tongues So similarly, once there is a protocol for money transfer or wealth storage in crypto, let's say if that ends up being Bitcoin, you probably wouldn't want a number two

It can't get there But separate winner take all from ownership Who owns Bitcoin? And the answer is nobody Anyone can play in it It's a level playing field

Now it is a meritocracy, it's a market And markets can be brutal and unforgiving They don't necessarily look out for the weaker elements of society so there always has to be a human layer that is on top of that Because markets, they have their own very cold and clinical definition of fairness But what they bring is they bring efficiency

In the case of a protocol market, like a Bitcoin, they at least bring uncorruptibility Like in a Bitcoin economy, if the bankers crash the economy and hold us all hostage, they don't get bailed out We don't need them anymore So it gets rid of some of the worst excess of crony capitalism But is not in itself fair

It is winner take all, but it's winner take all for a protocol To give you examples of other winner take all protocols, TCPIP, which underlies the internet SMTP, the simple mail transfer protocol, which runs email These are winner take all protocols, but we're okay with that because they're decentralized They're not owned by any entity

On the other hand, if I look at a protocol like the app store on our phones, that's owned by Google and Apple That's not an open system I hope that some day that will be replaced by an open protocol because those two companies just have far, far, far too much power It's funny to me how people worry about Facebook, but when Facebook, one of their apps, was leaking information, Apple kicked them off the app store Instantly, all their apps

Everybody on Facebook was scrambling That tells you who's really in charge It's Tim Cook, it's not Mark Zuckerberg That app store is the critical access point into the entire technology ecosystem And the fact that that's owned by private companies means that all of the means of leverage, now this is where Karl Marx would have a field day

Karl Marx today would not be attacking the people who owned the money or the machines, they would be attacking the people who own the gateways to the app stores Because that's where the means of production are really gated And they get 30% of everything on your phone, which is your entire life, and they get it all in profit It doesn't cost them anything for that 30% So I think even a decentralized world, we can converge upon protocols that are winner take all for certain use cases, but as long as they're not owned by a single entity we're fine

– Kia ora You don't really strike me as a busy guy I was wondering if you had an extra two hours in your week, how would spend that if it was towards advancing the human race? – Yeah, I'm not a busy person, actually And I'm not busy because I refuse to schedule things I'm famous for not scheduling things and not doing meetings and not at being at as specific place at a specific time because I think busy is the death of productivity

And people will spend a lot of time responding inbound to meeting requests and notifications and squander all of their time and energy, whereas if you wanna accomplish anything in life, it gets done through focus, intent and focused action And that only happens when you have free time You have to get bored before you can be creative Anyone who's ever done a creative job knows you have to be bored You can not be creative on schedule

You can't be creative from 9AM to 11AM, you know five days a week You can not be creative when you've just run from meeting to meeting to meeting, from task to task to task And all the great endeavors in life are creative, right? At some level, I do firmly believe that everything I've done in life is useless It's not gonna bring me any lasting satisfaction or peace and it doesn't follow me to the grave So it's kind of pointless

So if I'm gonna do it, do it for the art of it Do it because you enjoy it Do it for its own sake Do it for self-expression And so just it's very important to not be busy

How would I spend two extra hours? I would probably just play with my kids, to be honest I don't believe in work time I just believe in like you have time and you spend it doing what you wanna do it, and sometimes you spend it doing what you have to do and you wanna minimize that And if you have to do something, you might as well enjoy it because you're still there and it's your time So why suffer? But just sort of avoid getting into situations where you are sacrificing today for some imagined tomorrow

Because tomorrow doesn't exist Today is here So I don't have unfree time And I would encourage all of you to just be ruthless about not scheduling You will have to disappoint people

You will have to disappoint society You will have to let people down, but when they want your time that's their problem, not yours And the best way for you to give them your time is to spend your time doing what only you can do and most uniquely do And that is a gift to the people who need that But you can not be reactive

You can not respond You have to act from inside, if that makes any sense Sorry I got weird there – [Audience Member] Kia ora – I'm very defensive of my time, as these guys know

They've been, even at welcome week – You didn't show up to this on time – Well, I've probably been the hardest person to corral at welcome week because I need four to five hours of time a day by myself, doing nothing Because if I don't have that time, then I will not be able to do anything Because I mean think about your days

If you get up at seven in the morning and you run around and you're going meeting, conference, meeting, conference, conversation, then you come home, you watch a little tv, you read a little book, you talk to the family, you're exhausted You hit the bed What actually got done? You haven't even detoxed from all the crap you took in that day, right? It's all just weighing in your mind, and some of it is lodged in there and that comment she made and that thing he did and I'll sort that all out later Probably on a therapist's couch 10 years from now (laughs) Right? You have to process your day

You have to let it go Let it pass through you And then you have to get a little bored And then what's left, you're kind of tinkering and something interesting may come out of that – On that note, we have seven minutes and 50 seconds for the next question

– Exactly 7:49 – Hi, Kia ora I agree with you that the big challenge is education We have millions of people who can not participate in a discussion at this level

And technology can be the answer How far we are off a self-engaging platform for kids or adults to keep their education going at the scale you are, free? – Yeah, we're very– – And, sorry, initiatives you see that are around it could follow Thank you – We're very, very close, actually I think the bigger problem that this generation will face is adult education, not children's education

Children are learning machines, and they just need the tools And the tools are there, they're just unevenly distributed so there was a experiment done in Pakistan where they, I may be getting the details wrong so someone look this up, but there was an experiment where they took a bunch of Android tablets and they left them in some poor village in a third world country and the kids unpack them and hack them and reprogram them and figure out how to use them and were teaching the adults how to do it Kids are self-educating You just give them the means They're curiosity machines

They'll figure it out It's the adults that are the bigger problem, and I think they're, again, the means are there The internet is there MIT courses are there Yale courses are there

I could even, if you had a good software platform today, and you said hey, we're ready to reeducate all the adults who need it, I need volunteer teachers, you could get a million volunteer teachers from the first world – The problem is engaging – The problem is the desire It's a desire to learn that is scarce, and as we talked about earlier, desires are mimetic Desires are copied

Humans copy each other's desires So if you see, so there's the old Mark Twain line, there's nothing so damaging to one sensibility as watching a friend get rich, right? It's kind of classic Mark Twain, but the same way if you are an adult that is facing a difficult situation, and right now you are not thinking about education as a possibility, but then your neighbor goes and gets educated Well that's interesting, right? Now all of the sudden you wanna keep up with the Joneses so perhaps you'll do that And the role for society and government might be carving out that space, saying actually, instead of unemployment benefits, instead of universal basic income or whatever, we're gonna give you a one year education stipend, right? So, here is the money to survive for a year while you get an education Here's like 10 different educations you can choose from

These are what people in your neighborhood are doing And also kind of reconnecting employability to education, like the four year university system exists in this fiction of do what you love, which is fine I'm actually a big believer in do what you love I'm just not a believer in spend $400,000 and four years learning what ya love Like, because not everything can withstand that return on investment and make sense for the taxpayer

So, I think some commendation of giving people the space and time to learn as well as mimetically making it acceptable in society, making it great in society Like wow, you went back to school for a year and you got your degree in X? Like that's amazing, right? That should be a positive So I think we can get there I think we can do it, but the tools are already there The tools already exist

– Kia ora, thank you – Kia ora So with the talk about education, I often listen to your suggestion on equipping everyone with tech literacy, and whether it's adults or children Quite often, when we're going through becoming tech literate, it becomes very, very consuming because it takes a very steep learning curve for quite a lot of people, obviously And then how do you balance it with, say, having four hours a day to be by yourself walking by the river so that you can be creative as you need to be because like I feel the same way so it would be interesting if you have any observation

– Yeah, learning isn't that time consuming, actually I know that we have this model where you spend eight hours a day in the classroom and that's how you learn, but you're not learning eight hours a day A lot of that is socializing A lot of that is responding to the teacher's requests A lot of that is studying things that, frankly, are kind of obsolete or you shouldn't be learning in school anyway

When it comes to actual technology literacy, I'll bet you like two hours a day for six months is really sufficient for most people I'm not talking about turning everyone into a hardcore programmer, I'm just talking about enough that they're not scared of technology anymore, right? It's like when my mom picks up her computer, not to pick on my mom, she's great She's got an iPad, she's fully functional with First few times she's afraid of touching something She's like what if I destroy it? What if I delete everything? I'm like oh, mom, you're just being crazy

You don't have to worry about that And she's like okay, well how do I delete a file? I was like well you drag it to the trash can She's like then how do I eject this disk? Well you drag it to the trash can But won't that delete it? Oh, yeah, you're right That will delete it, right? And so she has a proper fear because we have made technology still very complicated in a way that, to the average person, they can make irreversible errors

Like if you hand your parents a Bitcoin key, right? That's a high risk maneuver (laughs) So some of it is just we have to make technology easier to use, but I think the education is there to get over that fear Like whatever your level of mathematics proficiency is, for example, determines how much science you can learn Like wherever your math tops out, you don't wanna pick up a book past that because it's just gobbledy gook It's just like a lot of jumbled letters and numbers, and that's why I'm not a physicist today because my math wasn't good enough

So I think the same way with technology, your knowledge gets you to a fear threshold It gets you to the limit of where you can learn So I'm not saying we educate everybody to be a great computer scientist But we get them to the level where they're comfortable pulling a book off the shelf or going to a website and learning what they need to on demand The beauty is that we have this external brain called Google and Wikipedia and Wikihow and so on

We don't need to remember everything, we just need to know how to use the tools to get the things that we need when we need them – Maybe just a point on how to balance it though, with that aspect of gaining energy that is outside of that particular area of literacy – You mean in terms of the time, the free time, piece? – Free time or other nature or whatever it is that brings you – Yeah, I mean I'm from Silicon Valley where everyone's an egg head and everyone's spending all their time indoors All right, I think in New Zealand you have a much better and more harmonious relationship with nature

I'm probably not the person to advise you on that because I spend too much time indoors There is a not too unrealistic joke in Silicon Valley that part of the reason why people in San Francisco are innovative is because the weather is not very good, right? The summers aren't great and the beaches are actually cold and et cetera, whereas in Los Angeles, where the weather is really good, and it's nice, it's actually harder to get work done Because the outdoors beckons That's okay – All right, we've got time for one more

– Kia ora I am from Carwin, got an amazing group of people in this room, non-profits, social enterprise, startup people What's your recommendation for them to prepare for fundraising in the future and what do they need to know to be ready for that? – Yeah, I could only speak to technology startup fundraising I do not know enough about non-profit or social entrepreneurship fundraising The only thing I would comment on social entrepreneurship is if you really wanna have an impact in this world, it's better to make your enterprise economically sustainable

So in that sense, get profitable, even if you're a non-profit, get profitable Because then you don't have to go begging for money Begging for money sucks And be a profit center And it is hard, but when you do it then you can truly scale what you're doing and it can last for a very long time

In terms of fundraising for technology companies here and startups, it's difficult because you're not in a technology hub And funding markets actually develop backwards People think like oh, I'm gonna have angel investors and then series A, series B, but that's not how the market develops The way the market develops is some company bootstraps its way to an IPO, creates a whole bunch of millionaire angels, then those angels, the smart ones, actually don't invest in seed stitch companies They actually invest in companies that are about to go public

And then those ones, then they form little firms and they invest in the ones that are just step before that, step before that, so you derisk all the way back down to seed level And when you see seed investing crop up in an area where there's no series A or series B or series C market, then those companies run out of money very fast Or you get brain drain, where those companies, the winners get exported out and they go to Silicon Valley to raise money and they never come back The good news is that Silicon Valley has gotten insanely expensive And we've been saying that for a long time, but now it really is insanely expensive

Like, it might be twice the cost of Manhattan to run a company in Silicon Valley So it's becoming much more accepted now for companies to raise money in Silicon Valley and then go back to their hometowns and spend it You still have the burden and challenge of standing out So it might make sense to have a Silicon Valley or New York office with one founder or key executive there who can build relationships so that you can be part of the trust network in Silicon Valley, which is really what makes financing and capital work there But then build the company here in terms of expansion

I think every large company in Silicon Valley and every venture investor is looking for the next place that has tech talent And so to the extent that you have a strong university system, you have a digitally literate populace, you have young people coming up who are programming, and, I hope, older people who are programming I think that's very, very attractive So in the bay area, it's now well accepted that, for example, University of Waterloo in Canada stamps out all these amazing engineering students Vancouver has become like a legitimate, acceptable hub to have startups or have most of the operations of a startup

Same with Toronto There are a few of these kinds of places forming I don't see why Wellington can't be one of those I think it just, it takes a little bit of focus and effort, but I think Wellington is well within striking range of being a great place to build a startup and you just funnel the money in from Silicon Valley – That's a great place to tie it off

How do people follow your work and follow you online? – I'm just @Naval on Twitter so that's the easiest way – Lets give it up for @Naval (applause)

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