(Originally published for FreedomFest-2022)
We’re at one of the most polarized cultural and political points in American history. If you’re like me, you’re sick of it. But you don’t want to surrender liberty for the sake of unity.
We need a strategy for cultural and political realignment that preserves the liberty we still enjoy and restores that which we have lost. The good news is that a beautiful, future-focused opportunity shines right before our eyes!
Our exponential technology opportunity.
This opportunity is found in exponential technologies in information and communications, nanotech, biotech, the “Internet of Things,” robotics, and AI. Entrepreneurs and innovators can use such technology to unleash a future of unimagined prosperity, with long, healthy, living-to-200 lives for all. These technologies will radically transform and drive in synergy the economy, public policy, social institutions, and culture in coming decades.
“Exponential” means change does not grow 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. It grows 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512! Changes in exponential technology and all its economic and other ramifications take place now over handfuls of years rather than over many decades or even centuries, as was the case in the past.
That’s nothing compared to where biotech is taking us. The cost of sequencing a human genome dropped from $100 million in 2000 (not counting capital costs) to $10 million in 2007 to well under $1,000 today.
That’s important because your genome is the blueprint for you as an individual. In the coming decade, healthcare can be tailored to your personal biology. How? Well, the CRISPR-Cas9 editing tool has been used to cut out other sequences of DNA that cause. And it has been used experimentally to “turn off” the production of tau proteins in brain neurons. Clumping of such proteins is associated with Alzheimer’s. Turning off Alzheimer’s!
For example, 15 years ago, no one had the modern smartphone. Today, 87 percent of Americans have one. We have access to virtually all the information in the world. Applied Materials CTO Omkaram Nalamasu estimates that to build an instrument in the 1980s with all current smartphone features would have cost over $100 million. So 87 percent of us have $100 million in our pockets!
So what’s not to like?!
There is, in fact, pushback from left and right—fears of robots taking jobs, AIs ruling us, gene editing creating a “bio-divide” like the ‘90s feared, “digital divide” or a soulless Master Race—and calls for government regulations that would stifle or kill innovation.
In light of the opportunities and the pushback, we need a threefold strategy.
First, we, the friends of freedom and technology, should raise consciousness about and educate policymakers, influencers, and the public concerning the potential of these technologies, dispelling myths and fears. This understanding should frame thinking about the economy, our lives, and the direction of the future.
Second, in light of exponential technology we should focus on public policy reforms and cutting-edge, free-market thinking on four interrelated issues: education, the future economy, future medicine and life extension, and a techno-path from poverty.
Third, we need to create coalitions and alliances of liberty advocates, technological achievers, educators, entrepreneurs, and honest individuals and groups across political and social divides to change public policy and culture.
Our allies for realignment.
Which brings us to realignment. This will involve creating alliances with four groups in particular.
·This alliance will include the tech community. We know that workers at major tech companies lean heavily to the left. But the emerging next wave of entrepreneurs building their own enterprises better understand that they need liberty to succeed. They understand how the government-dominated schooling system is failing and that an education revolution is needed if they are to have the talent they need to succeed in and create the future economy. And many want to make a better world but want to move beyond the failed government policies that have trapped millions in poverty. In other words, they want what works. They are potential allies to turn the tide toward liberty.
·This alliance will include honest intellectuals. The founding of the new University of Austin is a prime example of what is possible. It was created by a coalition that included the likes of Steven Pinker, honest liberals who see an open society threatened by the authoritarian cancel culture of the dogma-deluded Wokes. We have even seen moves to declare math and various sciences to be mere subjective constructs of a repressive ruling class. Honest liberals as well as the rest of us understand that such postmodern nihilism will make our future a grim dystopia. Honest liberals understand how the Enlightenment has created our wonderful modern world, and how it must be defended and restored. They are potential allies to turn the tide toward liberty.
·This alliance will include entertainers, authors, and others in the arts community. Normally a left-leaning and sometimes nutty community, the cancel culture is waking up many of them to the danger of the Wokes. Comedians like John Cleese, Ricky Gervais, Rowan Atkinson and Dave Chapelle, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling are leading the way. Pushback against postmodern, nihilistic entertainment content shows the emerging thirst for elevating fare. More entertainment entrepreneurs want to highlight and celebrate heroes. This is essential for a culture that nurtures the techno-achievers, the heroes who will create our future. These entertainers are potential allies to turn the tide toward liberty.
·This alliance will include anti-poverty activists. In an age of abundance, the plight of poor minorities in urban areas is a moral disgrace, which falls squarely on the shoulders of paternalistic, welfare state policies. There have always been voices for giving liberty to the poor so they could earn their way to prosperity: Jack Kemp, Bob Woodson, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell. More activists today are looking for positive alternatives to the failed policies of the past. Especially important will be apprenticeships in which high school students spend part of their time in classrooms, and part working in “learn and earn” jobs “tryouts” for enterprises and companies where they develop a work ethic. Tech companies especially are desperate for talent and the poor are desperate for opportunities to share in prosperity by creating it. Anti-poverty activists are potential allies to turn the tide toward liberty.
As we create these alliances and work to unleash entrepreneurs to create our prosperous and healthy future, we will be changing in synergy our economy, public policy, social institutions, and culture. This is our path ahead.
In the end, our efforts will create a world worth living in, one in which we replace today’s pessimism, nihilism, anger, impotence, despair, and malevolence with a culture of optimism, purpose, joy in achievement, empowerment, hope, and benevolence!
Edward Hudgins, Ph.D., is founder of the Human Achievement Alliance. His career includes stints at the Heritage Foundation, Joint Economic Committee of Congress, the Cato Institute, the Atlas Society, and the Heartland Institute.