August 17, 2014

Paul Buchheit and Impossible Goals

Before I finish, I want to mention my impossible goal.

We now, for the first time ever, have the technology and resources necessary to make the world a great place for everyone. We can provide adequate food, housing, education, and healthcare for everyone, using only a fraction of our labor and resources. This means that we can put an end to wage-slavery. I don't have to work. I choose to work. And I believe that everyone deserves the same freedom I have. If done right, it's also economically superior, meaning that we will all have more wealth.

We often talk about how brilliant or visionary Steve Jobs was, but there are probably millions of people just as brilliant as he was. The difference is that they likely didn't grow up with great parents, amazing teachers, and an environment where innovation was the norm. Also they didn't live down the street from Steve Wozniak.

Economically, we don't need more jobs. We need more Steve Jobs. When we set everyone free, we enable the outliers everywhere. The result will be an unprecedented boom in human creativity and ingenuity.

And now the impossible part. First we have to learn how to get along with each other, and with ourselves.

I'm looking for full-stack hackers. People who understand that technology is more than just patterns in silicon. The same patterns and systems of patterns exist everywhere. Capitalism is a technology. Like the internal combustion engine, it's tremendously valuable and transformative, but it's not beyond improvement. The same goes for government, religion, and everything else. We have an incredible future ahead of us, but we won't get there by clinging to obsolete patterns.

As founders, we must start small, and work with the grain of what is. The path is never obvious, and innovation happens in the most unexpected ways. The personal computer was originally dismissed as a toy. If you think Instagram is just a collection of photo filters, you're missing the big picture. Maybe photo sharing won't lead directly to world peace, but helping people to see the world through the eyes of others looks like a step in the right direction to me. And they grew to over 200 million users in less than four years. That's larger than most countries. That's the power of a startup.

As Richard Feynman said, "The worthwhile problems are the ones you can really solve or help solve, the ones you can really contribute something to." Don't be discouraged by people who dismiss your efforts as trivial just because you aren't curing cancer or traveling to Mars. The patterns I've presented today are about developing an independent mind, unburdened by the limitations of other people's thinking. Then you can judge for yourself what is worthwhile, and move forward with the conviction necessary to do something great. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.