Douglas Rushkoff on survival of the richest

Douglas Rushkoff

Futurist Douglas Rushkoff was offered half a year’s salary to give a talk on the future of technology.  To his surprise, he found his audience consisted of five persons from “the upper echelon of the hedge fund world.”  Their real interest was in Rushkoff’s thoughts on how to survive the coming collapse of civilization.

The CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?”

For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future. The Event.  That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.

This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader?

The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew.  Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival.  Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers — if that technology could be developed in time.

It struck Rushkoff that for certain Wall Street and Silicon Valley types, technology is less about improving the human condition and more about themselves escaping the human condition.  They treat humanity as a problem for which technology is a solution.

He mentioned Elon Musk’s proposed Mars colony, Peter Thiel’s immortality research and Ray Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil’s hopes of having their consciousness uploaded into a computer.  All of these projects are ways of disconnecting from urgent political and economic questions that affect people right now.

When the hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after “the event,” I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now.  They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family.

And the more they can expand this ethos of inclusivity to the rest of their business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution, the less chance there will be of an “event” in the first place.  All this technological wizardry could be applied toward less romantic but entirely more collective interests right now.

They were amused by my optimism, but they didn’t really buy it. They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone.  For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future.  They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves — especially if they can’t get a seat on the rocket to Mars.

It’s unfortunate that people like that, because of their wealth and investments, are in a position to make decisions that affect the rest of us.


Douglas Rushkoff Official Site

Survival of the Richest by Douglas Rushkoff for Medium.

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4 Responses to “Douglas Rushkoff on survival of the richest”

  1. Fred Says:

    Wow! Rich men worry about how to force compliance of their workforce if rule of law is gone and paper money meaningless. How does that not surprise me? Wonder what that tells us of their management styles?

    If you want to be a leader of men (who have a choice in the matter), you have to BE a leader. Most of our CEOs aren’t natural leaders. They may know a particular industry very well but outside that industry, they aren’t competent to inspire men. If our CEO wants to lead men in the post apocalypse era, he’s going to have to convince those men he knows what he’s doing and that he has their best interests at heart.

    The suggestion of getting to know his security detail and treating them like family is spot on. And treat their families like family too. A bunch of mercs hired for the job will just take over.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fred Says:

    Here is a movie they should watch.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pat Says:

    Here is my solution. It would work, but it’s not a world in which you’d want to live in.

    You must turn your compound into your own kingdom from the start, because the only form of practicable government that ensures the survival of its leader is despotism. Everyone who has anything, tangible or intangible, must depend on you for everything. Everything must be in jeopardy if your rule ends, including individuals’ pride and self worth. A King you will become if not a cult leader. Having some charisma will help, but it’s not essential.

    To read more of the answers go to:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. electqualfiedmiddleclass Says:

    I am quite awe-struck. I like Fred’s comment (7-9-18). He is probably very right that many of the CEO’s are not natural born leaders. Of course, they have to be good delegators. Micro-managing a massive company would be quite inefficient. I worked at a prison where one warden (happened to be male) walked the grounds fairly often. Later, the female warden, I think I saw her so infrequently; it was ridiculous. The top person needs to have some first-hand witnessing of the crew to be an efficient manager, in my opinion. I have or do know of people who would rather never see their boss. I was never like that.

    I think that these really rich people think that revolution, health calamity (i.e. plague) or nuclear explosion, are in the near-future, because their minds are so wrapped up around money and not about social science. Anthropologists have many studies that conclude that humanity’s main attribute is cooperation, not aggression.

    I am not saying that this earth will definitely not end as they (hedge fund billionaires) fear. I just think that global warming may kill us first. The very recent climatologists’ scientific findings are extremely alarming. They are citing a 50 year window to decrease the effects, somewhat. Trump is allowing the oil or gas companies to release a terrible gas in the atmosphere. These corporations were so gleeful that they got what they wanted. They were not able to get it under Obama. They have more time like 6 months between inspections and more time to remedy the bad gas being releases, which ahs been proven to cause more holes in our atmosphere, similarly to vehicle gas emissions.

    Liked by 1 person

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