In The Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Interview, Tunku Varadarajan interviews George Gilder, an investment author who made it big during the tech boom, but subsequently lost it all when his subscribers deserted him after the bubble popped. Gilder is concerned about the idea that artificial intelligence will replace humans, a concept he calls “Google Marxism.” Varadarajan writes:
Mr. Gilder is one of a dwindling breed of polymath Americans who thrive in a society obsessed with intellectual silos. As academics know more and more about less and less, he opines brazenly on subjects whose range would keep several university faculties on their toes: marriage and family, money and economics, law and regulation, and the social role of technology, a subject that engrosses him at present and the topic of his latest book, “Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy.”
Mr. Gilder has published 20 books, the best-known of which, “Wealth and Poverty” (1981), sold more than a million copies and made him rich. It was an impassioned defense of the morality and compassion of the free market. Ronald Reagan acknowledged that the book bolstered his confidence in supply-side economics, and he was known to be particularly beguiled by its opening line, which reads: “The most important event in the recent history of ideas is the demise of the socialist dream.”
Mr. Gilder also had a vast and avid following during the tech boom of the 1990s, when his Gilder Technology Report—an idiosyncratic subscription newsletter—shaped the investing habits of thousands around the world. Analysts spoke of a Gilder Effect, which had investors rushing to buy stock in any new company mentioned in the Report. The newsletter effectively ended, Mr. Gilder tells me, “in the months after the stock market crash of 2000, when I lost nearly all my 106,000 subscribers.”
Mr. Gilder, 78, is still immersed in the world of tech, but he doesn’t like all that he sees. Google makes him mad, as does Silicon Valley more broadly, and his ire is directed at the “new catastrophe theory” which holds “that artificial intelligence will make human minds obsolete, and that we’ll soon produce machine-learning tools and robotics that excel the capabilities of human brains.” He calls this attitude “Google Marxism”—a phrase he utters with a certain salivary distaste—“because Marx’s essential theme was that the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century had overcome all the challenges of production.” From that point on, Marx held, “human beings would focus on redistributing wealth among the classes rather than creating it.”
Read more here.
Originally posted on Yoursurvivalguy.com.
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