Tech Billionaires

Tech Billionaires: Naughty or Nice?

So that’s it! Almost time to close the book on 2021. Personally for me it has been a year of great transition, as I burnt-out and started looking for more purpose in my career. Of course we have all been trying our hardest to live in this new COVID world as well, whilst hoping even harder that we will be able to put it behind us someday soon or at least find a more livable routine.

It looks like, in the short term, we have one more round of lockdowns and stricter measures to get us through the winter, so stay safe and stay cosy. I’m optimistic that in 2022 we will start to co-operate more as a planet to bring COVID under control, after all it will be a useful experience for the kinds of cooperation we will need to fix our climate!

At the Top of my Climate Nice List: Elon Musk

It’s around this time of year that Santa checks his list twice and there is one person who seems to be on both lists in 2021, depending who you speak to. If you ask me though, I think this man and the companies he runs are doing more to create the best version of our future than any other individual or government on Earth right now. So I’d say he is very very nice.

Accelerating the transition to sustainable energy? Check. Creating a viable back up plan for life on other planets? Check. Ensuring that the oncoming future of AI is human enhancing rather than human enslaving? Check. Calling critics out on their bluff regarding payment of taxes and solving world hunger? Check and Check.

Ok Ok, so he definitely tweets some dumb, or just plain offensive stuff from time to time about Heroic individuals in Thailand and Dodgecoin. But I think that it’s dangerous to view people in black or white terms as we do so often these days, good or bad, without appreciating or acknowledging that all of us can be both.

He has certainly had a huge impact on the world in 2021, so recognition from TIME magazine was well deserved. If you are a Musk critic, give this interview a watch, his honesty, openness and distinctive new hairstyle might just endear you, or maybe it further convinces you that he is a super villain? Let me know in the comments!

However…unfortunately by paying so much tax, Musk may end up helping the US government fund the fossil fuel industry – Teslarati

Second on the List: Bill Gates

I feel awkward naming another billionaire for this slot, given all the wealth inequality in the world. But it’s such a tricky balance to get right. The last Gilded Age brought so much economic expansion and drove the creation and widespread use of railways even as it created monopolies and high inequality that shouldn’t be allowed to last. Our new gilded age is driving technological adoption and the potential for a greener planet and space travel, but also raising similar questions about wealth, this time around the US government’s money printer is involved too 😰. We are certainly walking a tight rope and I hope the path to sharing the wealth a little more becomes clearer in 2022. *cough* Carbon Tax *cough*

BUT, Bill Gates does a lot to help around the world, invests in new green tech and is always a great source of optimism in trying times – GatesNotes

Sidenote: How does the Gilded Age compare to today? – TIME

An Antidote to Excess Wealth and Consumption

Despite his wealth, Musk lives in a studio sized pop-up apartment and is openly anti-excess consumption 👏 which relates to something I talk about often on this blog regarding the idea of defining what enough means for you. I’m thrilled to see this topic come up more and more now, (maybe because I am subconsciously looking for it…).

Laurence Yeo writes about the changing states of Enough in “The Many World’s of Enough” – More To That

A great video interview with Steven Bartlett, discussing his journey to realising what enough meant to him. Stay for the end, he has some wise words on why pursuing more will never fulfill you, and where that urge for more comes from:

The Abolish Work movement is building traction, Bloomberg interviews it’s founder and reddit moderator – Odd Lot’s Podcast

Some Holiday Reading

The Center For Humane Technology has a free course to equip people working in the tech industry with the tools needed to make a shift towards creating technology that serves us and allows us to meet the challenges we face as a planet, rather than accelerate them. As I’ve written before, Big Tech really needs to stand up to the plate. I’ve signed up and feel very motivated to know that there are others out there prioritising values over metrics. – Foundations of Humane Technology

Have you noticed over the years that you have started to feel more and more guilty about spending time “unproductively”? Let go of the guilt, avoid burnout and enjoy your life! This one went straight into the Stuff I Love section. I wish I had read this a year ago! – Laziness Does Not Exist by Devon Price

This is one of my all-time favourite books, which I first read when a friend and I had a little book club together. It will astound and spook you how a book written in 1909(!) could be so on point about a future lived in isolation where all bodily and spiritual needs are met by an omnipotent machine and socializing happens via some sort of video messaging. When people interact, they endlessly discuss “secondhand ideas” and the world outside the machine is said to have unbreathable air. Even before COVID this was on point about the internet and social media. As time goes by it only gets more accurate! 😮 – The Machine Stops by E.M Forster

Another Year Over!

That’s it for 2021! Thanks for joining the beginning of my journey this year as I start spreading some Climate Optimism. Hopefully I can spread some “Big Climate Energy” next year and we can all get going on saving this planet of ours.

Wishing you all a very merry holiday and all the best for you in the year ahead.

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