Worldbuilders let people who donated money to them vote on what I would read if they hit $600,000. They did reach that goal, and they voted. It was between Goodnight Moon, Fox in Socks, Where the Wild Things Are and Jabberwocky. Jabberwocky won. So I got up this morning and headed, sleep-bleary, out into the woods to record myself reciting it... You can donate to Worldbuilders at worldbuilders.org. And you should.
Onstage at TED2014, Charlie Rose interviews Google CEO Larry Page about his far-off vision for the company. It includes aerial bikeways and internet balloons ... and then it gets even more interesting, as Page talks through the company's recent acquisition of Deep Mind, an AI that is learning some surprising things.
Bill Gates describes himself as a technocrat. But he does not believe that technology will save the world. Or, to be more precise, he does not believe it can solve a tangle of entrenched and interrelated problems that afflict humanity’s most vulnerable: the spread of diseases in the developing world and the poverty, lack of opportunity and despair they engender. “I certainly love the IT thing,” he says. “But when we want to improve lives, you’ve got to deal with more basic things like child survival, child nutrition.”
The unspoken assumption is that our goal is to gain competitive advantage, to crush the competition, to win. But I believe that the best creativity comes from a much deeper place than the desire to win. It comes from a desire to contribute to the lives of others, either by introducing something new that improves the quality of their lives or by showing people that something thought to be impossible is in fact possible. When you change people’s perceptions about what can be accomplished or achieved, you contribute to their humanity in the richest possible way. You give them hope for the future — a sense that life is not the demoralizing, unchanging drudgery day after day that the world so often teaches us that it is. When you change the way people think about possibility, it is an existential experience. It makes them feel understood. More than that, it makes them feel loved.
I write a lot about philanthropy. Philanthropy means, literally, love of humanity. You don’t have to give a million dollars to charity to be a philanthropist. You simply have to actively demonstrate your love of humanity. Your empathy. If the purpose of our creativity is philanthropy — if it is love for our fellow man, an appreciation that people struggle in their lives, and a desire to somehow lessen that struggle and increase their joy, with a little more leg room or with an iPad — it will change the world. And that is the greatest competitive advantage of all.