“Navalisms” – Naval Ravikant at New Frontiers


– In terms of digital literacy
I think that computers are the most powerful tool
ever created by humanity. They allow for infinite
leverage without permission and to me that knowing how
to be good with computers is the modern literacy. It’s like the new reading,
writing, arithmetic and this will be widely accepted, acknowledged decades from now but today we’re in that transition phase. Immigration is interesting because I think people
look at Silicon Valley and they say, “How can we
create a Silicon Valley here?” And that’s an experiment that’s been tried all over the world. But really Silicon Valley is not a place that creates entrepreneurs,
or wealth or technology. It is a place that attracts entrepreneurs who create wealth and technology, and so it’s really an attractor function. So intelligent immigration policy is the actually the largest
wealth creator in the world. It’s the nature of technology
that the destructive power arrives before the creative power. You get to have a nuclear weapon before you get to have a
functioning safe nuclear plant. You get to have unfortunate social media, you get combat before
you get civil discourse. So even if you go back
through human history you get gun powder before you get steam engines and airplanes. So, it’s just unfortunately
the nature of technology that the destructive
and the dis associative power arrives first. So I think it’s completely
fine to use an entrepreneur as a source of inspiration
but I think it’s silly to use them as a source of truth. Right, like in fact it’s
silly that I’m up here and I’m kind of giving you
all this so called truth when really I just have
really narrow specialization in a very narrow set of things but somehow for some reason somebody wants to hear
my opinion on everything. That’s the cult of personality
kind of poking through. But still you gotta pick some monkey to get in front of the
tribe at various points so it’s my turn right now. I got into crypto currency
and block chains back in 2013 and it was to me at first fascinating as a technology solution
to a very particular computer science problem called the Byzantine Generals Problem. But all you need to understand is what they’d solve is a way
of getting a bunch of people who don’t know each other
and don’t trust each other to still agree on something. And this is a much harder
problem than it may sound like. It is the nature of the current
generation of technology that it is a highly centralizing force. We have replaced geographic oligopolies with global monopolies. That trend line is very worrying because that’s not the internet I
think we were all promised. We were promised a decentralized internet where we kind of all
collectively control outcomes. But like in any system
you have to have rules, you have to have consensus, you have to have ways of rewarding people who contribute to the network. You have to have ways
of punishing cheaters who harm the network. And block chains use
mathematics, cryptography peer to peer networking to
create digital consensus and allow truly leaderless
digital networks. And I think that is what
is compelling about them. So fame is a curse, I don’t
recommend it for anybody. You wanna be, this is
glib, but you wanna be rich and anonymous, not poor and famous. (nervous laughter) This is the disease of social media everybody is getting
their five seconds of fame and becoming a celebrity and celebrities are the most miserable
people in the world. So it’s not necessarily
a good thing to go for. It’s the nature of the technology business that 99 out of 100 start
ups effectively fail. Cuz the winners are so
out sized and so rare. So most entrepreneurs walking around know that they don’t have product market fit, they live in mortal terror of it, their not allowed to talk about it, and everyone has to pretend their winning and crushing it all the time. And this is highly stressful. So I just decided five or six years ago, that I was done being miserable
and I was gonna be happy. And I know this sounds easy in hindsight, but it was sort of like,
well this entire time I’ve just assumed that happy
people aren’t successful, and if I’m gonna be successful
then I can’t be happy. I have to be miserable. Or if I’m gonna make a
difference in the world, I have to be unhappy along the way. I just sort of shifted my mindset and decided, actually I’m out of time, it’s now or never, there’s
no future to live for and if I don’t figure out how to be happy, I’m gonna die unhappy. 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 wifi 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. 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 the companies to have a clear regulatory framework and then you could a
whole bunch of companies that want to experiment
with utility tokens basing out of here. And bootstrapping large networks that could eventually go
on and complete globally. Because it is the nature of these things to be winner take all. Today there is no government that has put it’s weight
behind any crypto currency. Whichever crypto currency
gets a legitimate government putting it’s weight behind it first will win the crypto wars. Winning the crypto wars is worth a minimum of 10 trillion dollars
as 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. 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 Maori 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. If you wanna make a
good venture investment, you wanna be non consensus right. If you make a wrong investment,
you lost your money. Make a right investment,
you can make money. But if it’s conventional
wisdom, if it’s consensus, then it’s heavily competed,
the price’s 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 technology context means being first, so you take risks. 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’re not going to 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. As an individual if all you do is trend
chase, you will go insane. Right, like oh, AI is hot,
I better go brush up in AI. Well, by the time you get good at AI, it will 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 are naturally good at doing and have both geographic and cultural and educational advantages in doing which somehow aligns in the world stage. I’m 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 like truly passionately deeply care about, things that
we want to change and affect. And you kinda 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. You can’t help people
while you’re drowning. I mean 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. I just think that you have to, you really have to be indifferent. And not in a reactive way, not
in a “I must be indifferent”, but just by realizing that if you take on all
the world’s problems it will destroy you. In some ways we are
desensitized to the horrors and then we are constantly
being over sensitized, with just this wave of news that’s 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 you’re problem, but I can’t take on all
the world’s problems, otherwise I become a problem.” You could even argue like
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. But that’s facilitated by a
technology called airplanes, another technology called the
internet, these are tools. 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. 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 going to be
fooled by such things, so we have cannabis and
video games and Netflix. Which are the advanced
technological versions. So there’s a way of
sucked into competition by looking around you, and
the way to escape competition is through authenticity, cuz no one can compete
with you on being you, no one can compete with your business, and doing what it uniquely does. Yes, competition is a
real thing, it does exist, I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but 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. Those are status games. You do not want to compete,
you wanna be a market of one. That’s why older individuals in society tend to be 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 question 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. 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. 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 own 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. Busy is the death of productivity. 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 focus action. 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 cuz you enjoy it,
do it for it’s own sake, do it for self expression. In terms of fundraising
for technology companies here at start ups, it’s difficult, because you’re not in the technology hub. And funding markets
actually develop backwards, people think, like oh I’m
gonna have angel investors, and then series A and 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 stage 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 ones
that are just a step before, that step before that. So you de-risk all the way
back down to seed level. There are a few of these
kinds of places forming, and I don’t see why Wellington
can’t be one of those. I think it just 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 start-up and you just funnel the
money in from Silicon Valley.

2 thoughts on ““Navalisms” – Naval Ravikant at New Frontiers”

  1. Although there are somethings that I do agree with, I completely disagree that destructive inventions naturally happened first. The fact is that the rulers of this world desire and fund the destructive inventions first.
    There are many inventions that can help and further humanity, but they are purposely shelved because it benefits not the ruler to further Humanity. The rulers would rather inventions that continue to oppress and enslave, than to help or free. It is about control and greed.

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