How would you save humanity with $17.7 billion dollars?

June 22, 2019


If you had $17.7 billion dollars, what one thing would you do to maximally increase the probability that the human race would thrive? Last week, Bridgewater Founder Ray Dalio chose to focus on oceans.

I obsessed about a similar question after I sold Braintree in 2013. With an entire life of thriftiness, I finally had enough resources to try and do something audacious. I spoke with hundreds of people, did extensive research, and decided to focus on two things: building a global, biological immune system (OS Fund) and radically enhancing human cognition (Kernel).

If you had the same opportunity, what would you do and why?

Explaining his rationale, Dalio said “…ocean exploration is much more exciting and much more important than space exploration.” Which got me wondering: is the gameplay among the .001%-ers changing?

Since its first publication in 1987, Forbes’ lists have fueled a numbers game among the most wealthy about who can accumulate the most money. Carnegie started a different game nearly a century ago (“The man who dies rich dies disgraced”); Buffet evolved Carnegie’s take a bit with The Giving Pledge. Bill Gates iterated further, Zuckerberg followed, with who can help the most people.

Today’s .001% may be evolving the game again to, instead, who can do what’s most interesting. I call it The New IQ: Interestingness Quotient.

We humans love to play games. We’re wired for them. What games we choose to play will be highly consequential in determining our collective future, so let’s choose thoughtfully.


PS Last week I convinced my mom to stop worrying about artificial intelligence. This week I was disappointed to read about  another “AI versus humans” publicity stunt by IBM. The truth is, we need strategically unprecedented moves from artificial intelligence if we’re going to survive as a species.