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I just loved the way Elon Musk challenged back WFP, the Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2020, in his two sentences. True to his brand!
Elon may not realize that the three words “open source accounting” he used in this context marked a profound change of two eras: we are stepping into the blockchain-enabled OPEN, DIRECT, DECENTRALIZED era:
We are leaving behind the old era of traditional banking, accounting, closed societies, top-down concentration of financial power in the hands of few, the command-and-control types of government, and the old ways of bureaucracies.
Many traditional rules, systems, and organizations suitable for the last Industrial Revolution era are getting less and less pertinent to today’s Information Age. The old-fashioned trust and reverence are slowly and surely eroding for the national government and traditional banking system, even for institutions like the UN, as the Information Age empowers people with technology and individual autonomy. (See my interview of Time Draper.)
Ask ourselves: If we have a choice between donating to an institution that does not allow donors to see how their donation money is spent, and an open source fund with open source accounting, which would you choose? – I am sure you’d prefer the latter.
So my first question for Elon: Why don’t you start a charitable foundation with open source accounting yourself, if you rightfully don’t trust bureaucracies like the UN? (Put your money where your mouth is.)
Elon’s next tweet might have answered my question: It was not an accident that Elon then started tweeting about establishing the Texas Institute of Science and Technology. Teaching people how to fish is a better way to elevate people from poverty than mere handouts.
In the age of ubiquitous information, disinformation, and misinformation at our fingertips, analytical skills for independent and critical thinking can only be learned through higher education. As information digitization and digitalization is bringing our world closer together, more open and decentralized, higher levels of education for all people is vital for holding our society together.
Blockchain and open source technology not only will bring the beginning of the end of wasteful bureaucracies, it will also bring more freedom, power and self-governance to individuals, – welcome to the new world order of “democratization of digitalization”. It can be the best of times; it can be the worst of times.
Individual freedom requires making choices. Self governing requires self control, EQ, and IQ. Freedom is not lawlessness, selfishness, and anarchy.
More individual freedom in the information age does not diminish or threaten governmental power, at least in theory. Governments’ law-making, tax-and-spend powers will always play huge roles even in the most decentralized digital civilization in the future.
Large bureaucracies like the UN will have to evolve. Technology may enable better partnership between the public and the private sectors.
This poem, composed more than 1,000 years ago in ancient China, was tweeted IN CHINESE by Elon Musk, and he put an English title “Humankind” to this originally titleless Chinese poem, which is translated as:
Cooking beans by burning beanstalks,
Beans are crying inside the pot:
We are born from the same roots,
Why are you so eagerly burning me hot?
(Translated by Joanne Z. Tan, author of this article.)
Which is a lot less wordy in Chinese, and I think sounds better too, in its original language:
煮豆燃豆萁 (zhǔ dòu rán dòu qí)
豆在釜中泣 (dòu zài fǔ zhōng qì)
本是同根生 (běn shì tóng gēn shēng)
相煎何太急 (xiāng jiān hé tài jí)
So my second question for Elon: if you don’t want a dog-eat-dog, “beanstalks-burn-beans” world, why don’t you create an alternative digital open forum for people to freely help and give to one another, and come together to save our Blue Planet Earth? Isn’t this more important and more challenging than sending humans to the barren and hostile Red Planet Mars? What makes you think that the Martian environment will change humankind for the better?
They come hand in hand, technology and humanity. Technology serves humanity. So while you are gazing at Mars from your Starbase, can you also do the HARDER, down-to-earth work of improving humanity and saving our planet? I believe that you can do both, and you must do both. After all, humanity has invested so much resource and hope in your hand, and in your heart.
Improving both humanity and science will make you a wholesome person. It will be the perfect “period” marking a lasting legacy. Just like the universities, hospitals, the arts, and many other causes supported by the Industrial Revolution’s villains/heroes such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew W. Mellon, Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan, and today, by Bill Gates and many other multi billionaires.
Elon, you don’t have to do it exactly their ways, you can do it YOUR ways, perhaps with better innovation, with “green tech”, “blue tech”, whatever. Exactly how, when, what, in what sequence and priority, and in what exact areas… are all entirely up to you. I am not guilt-tripping or moralizing you here. I’d like to see your brand soaring with both wings: technology and humanity.
Elon, I have many questions for you, – questions related to metaphysics, global economy, innovation, climate change, human nature, the arts, cultures, AI, the universe, the multiverse, the Big Bang, the Black Hole, your vision for human fate, for the future of our planet … will you be my honored guest on the podcast and video series “Interviews of Notables and Influencers”?
Everything! The purpose and fulfillment in building a brand, is to let people own the hope of a better version of themselves. Escaping our planet literally and physically will not bring out our own better angels. We must take up the cross and work on ourselves introspectively here on Earth, for humankind’s own fate, for all lives on Earth, for our only home planet’s future.
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© Joanne Z. Tan, 11/05/2021
Edited by Susan Olson, David Leskin