A Talk With Author and New York Times Columnist Thomas L. Friedman


(audience applause) – Thank you very much. Well thank you all for coming
out, it’s a treat to be here. Connects me with some old
friends of mine from Egypt and new friends. Ted, thank you for
organizing this as well. Great to be at Claremont. I was here maybe a decade ago. Was there an atheneum series? Yeah. I remember that fondly. So I’m gonna talk about my new book, Thank Your For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving
In the Age of Acceleration. The first question I always
get is where from the title of this book? And the title actually comes, emerged quite accidentally from meeting people in Washington, DC
over the years for breakfast. And I don’t like to waste
breakfast by eating alone when I could maybe be learning
something from someone. So I often schedule breakfast with people downtown in DC. And every once in a
while, someone would come 10 or 15 minutes late and they’d say “Tom, I’m really sorry,
it was the weather, “the traffic, the subway,
the dog ate my homework.” (audience laughing) And one day about three years ago, I said to one of them, Peter Persell, who’s an energy innovator, who came late and started apologizing. I said, “actually, Peter, “thank you for being late. “Because you are late,
I’ve been eavesdropping “on their conversation. “Fascinating.
(audience laughing) “I’ve been people watching
the lobby, fantastic. “And most importantly, I just connected “two ideas I’ve been
struggling with for a month. “So thank you for being late.” And people started to get into it. And they’d say, “well you’re welcome.” (audience laughing) Because they understood I was giving
them permission to pause, to slow down, to rethink and reflect. And this book is an argument about why that’s so important right now. The book actually was triggered in fact by an accidental pause. When I pause to engage with someone I normally might not have. I live in Bethesda, Maryland and I take the subway to
work about once a week or so, when it’s running. Almost three years ago now… Involves for me driving from my home in Bethesda to the Bethesda Hyatt, and I park, and there’s a
public parking garage there. And I take the Red Line into DC. And I did that, went to the
New York Times Bureau there, came back at the end of
the day, got in my car, time stamped ticket. I drove up to the cashier’s
booth, gave it to the cashier, and he looked at it,
looked at me and said, “I know who you are.” And I said, “great.” He said, “I read your column.” I said “great.” He said, “I don’t always agree.” (audience laughing) I thought to myself, “get me outta here.” (audience laughing) But I actually said to him, “that’s great, it means
you have to check.” And I drove off thinking,
“that’s really great. “The car guy’s reading my column.” And I felt good about that. A week later I took my weekly trip in. DC, Red Line, came back,
car, time stamped ticket, same guy’s there. And this time he says, “Mr. Friedman I have my own blog, “would you read my blog?” And I thought, “oh my god. “The parking guy is now my competitor.” (audience laughing) “What just happened?” So I said, “well write it down for me “and I’ll look at it.” So he tore off a piece of receipt paper, and he wrote down odonomb.com. And I went home and I
called it up on my computer. And it quickly was obvious
that he’s Ethiopian and writes about Ethiopian politics. He’s from the Oromo people. And from a very pro-democracy point of view. It was a good blog. I thought about him for a view days and I told my wife and I decided that this
was a sign from God and that I should actually pause and engage this man. I didn’t have his email, though, so the only way I could do it was park in the parking lot everyday. So it took four days and
we finally overlapped, and I parked my car into the gate, and I got out and I said, “Eli,” now I know his name,
“I’d like your email.” Which he happily gave it to me and I repeat our emails back and forth. We had a rather funny
exchange to begin with. And that night I went home
and I sent him an email and I basically said, “I’m ready to teach you
how to write a column “if you will tell me your life story.” And he basically said, “I
see you’re proposing a deal, “I like this deal.” (audience laughing) So he asked me to meet near his work at Peet’s Coffeehouse in Bethesda and two weeks later I
was actually going to the Middle East and I came back and we met at Peet’s
and I handed him a six page memo on how to write a column. And he told me his life story. It’s a wonderful story. He’s a democracy activist student, graduate of Haile Selassie
University in economics. We’re roughly the same age, I’m 63, I think he’s 63. Basically, his activism led
him, essentially, to be expelled from Ethiopia by the authoritarian regime. He gained political asylum in America, was working the parking
garage just to make money, basically, so he could
sustain his activism through the internet. He was blogging on Ethiopian websites but they were too slow for him. They wouldn’t turn his
stuff around fast enough, so he decided to start his own blog “and now Mr. Friedman, I feel empowered.” His Google metrics say
he’s read in 30 countries. Which is amazing, it’s an amazing story of participation and the ability
of anyone to participate. I really felt we met like
two just global columnists writin’ about the world. It was a real insight
for me into how much the platform has changed
and just how easily now so many people can participate. I then handed him my six page memo on how to write a column
and we had actually three sessions over time, and on email on this. And so, if the world is a big data problem, what I’m about to share
with you in my algorithm. It’s how I, as a
columnist, write a column. And everyone does it differently. But this is how I go about
organizing the world, I explained to him. So I explained to Eli that a
news story is meant to inform and I can do so better. Worse, I can write about CGU and you’d read it and say,
“he informed, better, worse.” But a column is actually meant to provoke. I’m either in the heating
business or the lighting business. That’s what I do. I either do heating or lighting. I’m either stoking up an emotion in you, or illuminating something for you and if I really do it well, I’m doing both and producing
both heat and light, and producing a reaction. But what I explained to him is that to produce heat and light requires actually an active chemistry. ‘Cause a news story comes to you. It’s an event and you write about it. But a column actually has to conjured. It has to be conjured
by an active chemistry. And you have to combine three compounds: the first is what is your value set? Are you a communist, a
capitalist, a neo-comm, a neo-liberal, a libertarian,
a Marxist, a Keynesian? What is the value set your are trying to promote in the world? Second, how do you
think the machine works? So the machine is my short hand. For what are the biggest forces shaping more things in
more places in more ways on more days? As a columnist, I’m always carrying around a working hypothesis of how I think the machine works. Once I called it Lexus and the Olive Tree, once I called it The World Is Flat. All of these books,
Hot, Flat, and Crowded, they’re actual just a picture of the mental image I
have of how the big gears and pulleys of the world are working. Because as a columnist, you’re trying to take your value set
and push the machine and if you don’t know
how the machine works, you’ll either not push it or you’ll push it in the wrong direction. And lastly, what have you
learned about people and culture? ‘Cause there’s no column without people, and there are no people without culture. How the machine affects
people and culture. You know, people and culture come back and affect the machine. Stir those together, let it rise, bake for 45 minutes,
and if you do it right, you will produce heat or light. You’ll produce a reaction. And you will know you’ve
produced a reaction by what you hear and feel from
readers coming back at you. Some might say, “I didn’t know that.” That’s a good reaction. Some might say, “I never
looks at it that way.” That’s a good reaction. Some might say, “I never
connected those things.” That’s a good reaction. Your favorite, you’ll live for this, it happens four times a year, people say, “you said exactly what I felt, “but I didn’t know how to say it. “God bless you.” (audience laughing) Sometimes they say, “I
wanna kill you dead, “you and all your offspring.” That also tells you you’ve
produced heat or light. So any of these reactions will work. So the more Eli and I went back and forth and the more I thought of how to explain all this to him, and this
is exactly what happened. The more I said to myself, “well if that’s what a column is, “what is my value set? “Where did it come from?” Those of you who read me know that I’m not exactly a liberal, but I’m certainly not a conservative. I have my own quirky
politics, very heterodox. ‘Cause my politics
actually does not come from a philosopher, a book or a library. It actually emerges
from the time and place where I grew up in Minnesota. A small suburb outside of Minneapolis. ‘Cause I grew up in a time and
place where politics worked. And that’s what actually has influenced me more than anything else. Which by my chapter on that book, which is about my philosophy is called, “Always Looking for Minnesota.” ‘Cause that’s basically what
I’ve been doing for 40 years. How do I think the machine works today? And what have I learned
about people and culture in 40 years as a journalist
for the New York Times? And I decided that was the
book that I wanted to write. I will tell you, though,
there’s a personal subtext to the book. And the personal subtext
is that I spent about 30 years covering the
Middle East of my life and I got to witness some
of the great events there. I was on the White House lawn
for the Oslo Peace Agreement. I was in Tahrir Square
for the uprising there. I covered the Arab Spring. Covered the Iraq War. Hoped it would end well, it didn’t. And after about 30 years I decided that, kind of nothing I was
supporting was working. And maybe I needed to take my idealism and invest it somewhere else. So I started writing about America, nation building at home. My last book was That Used to Be Us: How America Lost Its Way In
the World and Invented It, How We Can Come Back. And then over the last seven, eight years, I started to feel like the Middle East was coming to America, that we were turning
into Sunni’s and Shiites. We just called it
democrats and republicans. We were acting the same way. People were saying, “I would
never let one of my kids “marry one of them.” And they were actually
talking about someone from another political party. And I began to hate Washington, DC. And basically what happened was I started to drift back and try to rekindle my idealism by
going back to the place and time where I realized
I had been the most happy. And that was the time
and place in this town and community I grew up
in called St. Louis Park. And that’s why the subtext of this book is a journey back home to discover whether it was as good as I remembered. And if it was, to share those lessons with my readers in the world. So let me talk more detail,
a little bit about the book, and we can open up for questions. Let me talk about the
central engine of all this. The first part of the book
is how the machine works, and the second half is about
how it’s reshaping the world. So my argument is that, the
way I think the machine works, what’s shaping more things in my places in more ways on more days, is that we are in the middle of three
non-linear accelerations all at the same time, with the three largest forces on the
planet, which I call the market, mother nature, and Moore’s Law. So, Moore’s Law, coined
by Gordon Moore in 1965, said that the speed
and power of microchips will double every 24 months. It’s now closer to 30. Never mind, it’s held up, it’s the most powerful exponential in the world today. If you put it on a graph, it
looks like a hockey stick. You know one of the hardest things for the human mind to grasp is actually the power of an exponential. ‘Cause we rarely encounter
the second derivative in our daily life. And so the engineers at Intel wants to demonstrate the power of an exponential, ’cause it’s hard to grasp the power
of doubling microchips. They took a 1971 VW Beetle and on the back on an envelope, they tried to estimate
what a 1971 VW Beetle would operate like today if it improved at the rate of Moore’s Law. And they determined
that it would go 300,000 miles per hour,
(audience laughing) it would get two million miles per gallon, and it would cost four cents. (audience laughing) And you’d be able to
drive it your entire life on one tank of gas. That’s the power of Moore’s Law. So it looks like a hockey stick. The market for me is
digital globalization, not your grandfather’s globalization. Containers on ships,
that’s actually going down. But the globalization
that’s actually weaving the world from interconnected
to interdependent, is digital globalization. Everything now is being
digitized and globalized. Whether it’s Mooks, whether it’s PayPal, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, we are now digitizing
everything and it immediately goes global, and that’s what
driving globalization today. What I called “the market.” And mother nature of
course is climate change, biodiversity loss, and population growth. If you put the market digital
globalization on a graph, it looks like a hockey stick. If you put mother nature on a graph, it looks like a hockey stick. We’re in the middle of three
hockey stick accelerations, all at the same time. With the three largest
forces on the planet, and they’re all interacting
with one another. ‘Cause more Moore’s Law
drives more globalization, more globalization drives
more climate change, and more solutions to climate change. So, my chapter on Moore’s Law. I have three chapters, one on
each of these accelerations. And my chapter on Moore’s
Law is actually called, “What the Hell Happened IN 2007?” 2007, 2007. Sounds like such an innocuous year. Well, here’s what happened in 2007: in January 2007 at the Moscone
Center in San Francisco, Steve Jobs unveiled the
iPhone for the first time. Beginning a process by which
we’re putting in the hands of, eventually probably every
person on the planet, a handheld computer you can
hold in the palm of your hand, connected to the internet, in this thing we call the Cloud. Here’s what also happened in 2007, actually late 2006, a
company called Facebook, which had been confined to
colleges and universities, opened itself to any user with
a registered email address. And it exploded globally in 2007. In 2007, a company called
Twitter, which was formed in 2006, launched on its own
independent platform in 2007 and went global. In 2007, the most important
software you’ve never heard of, called Hadoop, launched it’s first algorithm onto the world. It’s named after the company’s
founder’s son’s toy elephant. And Hadoop is the software which
basically gave the world the ability to connect a million computers so they would operate as one. And it created the foundation for big data for everybody outside of Google. Basically, Google pioneered this, but as Doug Cutting, the
founder of Hadoop says, “Google lives in the future
and sends us letters back.” And what Google did is send a letter back to the open source community,
the basic breadcrumb pathway to recreate
their big data foundation by an open source algorithm, and we suddenly had the
foundation of big data. In 2007 the second most
important software company you’ve never heard of, called
Github, opened its doors. It is now today, the
world’s biggest repository of open source software and just about every major company now develops software directly
and indirectly through Github. In 2007, a company called Google opened and unleashed into the
wild an operating system called Android. In 2007, the same company called Google bought an obscure TV
company called YouTube. In 2007, Jeff Bezos gave
the world the first eBook reader called the Kindle. In 2007, IBM started the world’s first cognitive computer called Watson. In 2007, three design
students in San Francisco decided to rent out their
spare air mattresses to some people attending
the design conference who couldn’t get a hotel room. It worked out so well they
started, in 2007, Airbnb. In 2007, Palantir launched
its first algorithm, change.org started, Michael
Dell retired in 2005, came back to work in 2007. Here’s what else happened in 2007. Solar energy began to take off in 2007. See if we can get this clicker working. Ah, there it is. This is the cost of generating a megabyte of
data, that’s the white line. This is basically social
networking in a nutshell. So what happens is, what year is that? Oh, 2007, yeah.
(audience laughing) The cost of generating a
megabyte of data collapses, and in the same year, the
speed at which you can dispatch a megabyte of date explodes and the two lines cross in 2008. Close enough for government work. Keep going. This is what Moore’s Law looks like. Let me just go back, we’re
missing the first slide here, let’s see if we can find it. This is quite important. Alright, I’ll just go forward. The Cloud started in 2007. The first year it actually
shows up statistically is 2008, so it actually began in 2007. I’m just gonna go ahead from these slide, maybe we’ll get to the first one. Oh, this is the cost of
sequencing a human genome. In 2001, it was $100,000,000. You’ll notice it hits a waterfall and goes straight down in 2007, okay. Down toward $1,200. Turns out, that 2007 may be known in time, as the single greatest
technological inflection point since Gutenberg invented
the printing press. And we completely missed
it, because of 2008. So right when we hit, it was like we were on a
moving sidewalk at the airport that suddenly went from five miles an hour to 35 miles an hour. Our physical technologies
just leapt ahead. All of our, what Eric Beinhocker calls, our social technologies: regulation, deregulation,
politics, political reform, management, learning. So much of that froze
because the next year we went into the worst economic
crisis since the depression. And we are living, right
now, in that dislocation. So, I was talking about this with Astro Teller who runs Google X and he went over to his whiteboard and just did this crude etching of where we are. So the blue line is the average rate, Astro said, at which
human beings and societies adapt to change over time. It’s very gradual, but it
does have a positive slope. The white line is technology. You know if you lived in the
11th century or 12th century, if you lived at the left end of that line, nothing actually changed. You could go a whole century
and basically, nothing changed. And then we get Galileo and Copernicus and Intel and the whole thing, and the line starts to go straight north. And then Astro drew this little diamond, and he wrote
the words, “we are here.” That we’re now actually moving… Because we’re being
driven by an exponential, the change and the pace
of change now is so fast that it’s above the average rate at which a lot of human beings
and societies can adapt. And I will tell you in writing this book, I had an experience I’ve
never had in writing a book, and I’ve written about
technology for a long time. I felt I had a butterfly net and I was chasing a butterfly,
and every time I got close, it moved. So I had to interview Brian
Krzanich, the head of Intel, three times, during the course of this book, just to make sure that
everything was up to date. I interviewed Chris
Wanstrath, Doug Cutting, Chris Wanstrath’s from Github,
Doug Cutting from Hadoop. I don’t remember how many
times, just to make sure, it was almost monthly. In fact, Chris Wanstrath,
every time I’d call him, he’d say, “we have another
million users on Github, “it’s not 11 now, it’s
12, then it was 13.” I felt like I needed
an odometer on the page to keep pace of what was going on. So I was actually living that. So then Astro went up, took out another magic marker, and he drew a little dotted line, and he called that “learning
faster and governing smarter.” And he argued that’s the
basic social and political challenge we face today. How do we enable more people to accelerate their learning and governing,
in order to keep pace with a changing pace of change? And that’s a lot of
what the book is about. How did 2007 happen? Well basically I argue that
the computer has five parts: it has the CPU, the processor;
it has the storage chip; it has networking; it has software; and it has a sensor. There’s many parts, but
those are the five key parts. In fact, all five have
been under Moore’s Law. And they all basically
come together in 2007 into this thing we call the Cloud. The Cloud. But I actually don’t used the
word the Cloud in my book. Because it sounds so soft. (audience laughing) So fluffy.
(audience laughing) So cuddly, so benign. It sounds like a Joni Mitchell song. (audience laughing) ♫ I’ve looked at clouds from This ain’t no cloud. In the book I rename it, actually, Craig Mundie, the former CTO of Microsoft, calls it a super nova. Super nova is the largest force in nature, it’s the explosion of a star. Only this is an ever expanding
and accelerating super nova. And it really now is at
the center of so much of these accelerations
and what’s happening. I mean if you think, where did you wanna build your town in the middle ages? You wanted to build it on a river. Because the flows of that
river created transportation, brought ideas, brought nourishment, and brought power. You wanted to build
your town on the amazon. Where do you wanna build your town today? On Amazon.com. You wanna build it on the flows
coming off this super nova, because it’s now a world
of what John Hegel calls, it’s a world of flows, now. Not a world of stocks. That is being touched with these flows that are now the key drivers of so much economic activity today. So, that’s basically the story of the Moore’s Law acceleration. I then tell the same
story of globalization, I’m not gonna go into that. And I tell the same
story of mother nature. And my argument is that
these three accelerations are not just changing the world, they are reshaping the world. And they’re reshaping five
realms simultaneously: politics, geopolitics, ethics, the community, and the workplace. And so the first half of the book is about these accelerations and the back half is about how all five are being reshaped and how I think they need to be reimagined. And that’s why it’s important to slow down and figure all this out. So I don’t have time to
go through all of them. I’ll just do a couple
just to give you an idea and we can talk about
the others in the Q&A. So the section of the workplace is called, “How We Turn AI into IA.” How do we turn artificial intelligence, into intelligent assistance, A-N-C-E, intelligent assistants, A-N-T-S, and intelligent algorithms, so more people can accelerate their learning and governing in the age of acceleration. So I’ll give you my example of each one. The section on intelligent assistance is built around the human
resources department of AT&T. 360,000 employees living right on the edge of the super nova. Feels its heat every day,
wakes up every morning, competes with Verizon and
Sprint and Deutsche Telekom. So, I spent a lot of time
with their HR department, and basically this is the
HR policy of AT&T today. Their CEO, Randall Stephenson, begins the years with a
radically transparent speech about how he sees the world, what businesses and markets
AT&T is gonna be in, and what skills you need
to be an AT&T employee. Then they put everyone on their own internal LinkedIn system. So they’ve got me on
their LinkedIn system. I’m an employee, they’ve broken down… I’m making up this number I don’t remember what the exact number is,
but there are 10 skills you need to work in the AT&T of today. And they come to me and they say, “Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom. “You have seven of the 10 skills we need. “But you’re missing three.” Then they partnered with
Sebastian Thrun from Udacity, who created online nano
degrees for all ten. Then they came to me and said, “we’ll give you $8,500 a year, Tom, “to take the nano degree courses “for the skills you don’t have, “on one condition: “you have to take them on your own time. “So you have to take them
after work, at night, “early in the morning. “But the deal we have now with you “is if you take those courses, “we will offer you the new jobs first, “we will not go outside.” If I say to them, “I’ve climbed up “just one too many telephone poles, “and I’m just not up for this,” they now have a wonderful
severance package for me. But I won’t be workin’ at AT&T. So their new social contract
with their employees is you can be a lifelong employee at AT&T, but only if you’re a lifelong learner. And that is the social contract coming to a neighborhood near you. The job of the company, if
it’s a true social contract, the job of that company is to create both the courses, the direction,
and I think the resources to take those courses. The job of the employee is to take them on his or her own time. The job of the government is
to enable the whole thing. But that is the new social contract. And, it is coming to a neighborhood near you. That is what I call
intelligent assistance. Intelligent assistant, the
example I used is Qualcomm. I profile Qualcomm and Irwin Jacobs, the founder of Qualcomm in the
networking part of my books. I was spending a lot of time there and one day I was there
and I ended up talking to the head of their maintenance department. And he told me that they
had just put sensors on six buildings and they
basically put sensors on every device of these buildings. Every door, window, light, HVAC system, pipe, computer, absolutely everything. And then they beam all that
data up to the super nova and then they beam it down onto an iPad for their janitorial staff on a really user-friendly interface. So their janitors can now swipe down. They know if you left your computer on, if a pipe burst, they
have the instructions all there, how to repair
it or who to call. Their janitors are now
maintenance technologists. They give tours to foreign visitors. Well think what that does for the dignity of the janitorial staff. They can live at a higher rate now because they have an
intelligent assistant. My example of intelligent algorithm is the partnership
between The College Board, and I’m sure Claremont
has experienced this, and Khan Academy. So I’m 63, I have two
girls, they’re blessedly out of college now and in the work force. But when they were in 11th grade, in public school in Maryland, we did that really neurotic
thing all parents do. We went out and hired a college kid to be their tutor for the PSAT to see if we could little goose
their english and math scores. I know, you did the same thing. It’s a completely rigged game, basically. ‘Cause if you live in a neighborhood or came from a family
that couldn’t afford this or didn’t even know you could do it, you were at a huge disadvantage. It was a completely rigged game. So, two years ago, The College Board partnered with Sal Khan of Khan Academy to create free online
PSAT and SAT college prep. So now as an 11th grader,
I take the PSAT exam, I get the results back
and Khan Academy says, “Tom, you really did, you
did pretty well on math, “but you have a problem with
fractions and right angles.” It then takes me to a
practice site just dedicated to fractions and right angles. Just tailored perfectly for me. If I do well there it comes back and says, “Tom, have you ever
thought of taking AP math?” Well as a matter of fact I have been ’cause there’s no one in my life who ever took AP math. I didn’t even know what AP math was. It says I can take AP math. If I do well there, it
takes me to another site with over 180 college
scholarships on it now. And another site connects me to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where there are tutors
ready to work with me to help me through this
process, all for free. Last year two million American kids availed themselves of free SAT prep in the partnership between Khan Academy and The College Board. You heard nothing about any of this during a
year and a half campaign. You heard nothing of this. Because, Bernie Sanders’ big idea
was to destroy the banks. The big banks. Donald Trump’s big idea was
to destroy Hillary Clinton. (audience laughing) Hillary Clinton’s big idea to tell you to go to her website, okay.
(audience laughing) But nobody was telling you at all that there’s actually massive social entrepreneurship going on within and outside companies around how to turn AI into IA. And I only gave you a fraction
of what’s in that chapter. There’s an explosion of
entrepreneurship around this issue. So I’ll let you go to the
chapter to read it all but people are doing amazing things. You would never know it, though, from the political
discussion in this country. So let me talk to you briefly about the chapter on ethics. And then we’ll go to questions. You might find it odd that,
in the age of acceleration, we need to rethink ethics. But boy do we have to. So, my chapter on that is called, “Is God In Cyberspace?” Which comes from the best question I ever got on book tour, Portland, Oregon, I believe, 1999, I was selling
Lexus and the Olive Tree, man stood up at question
time in the balcony and said, “Mr. Friedman, I have a question: “is God in cyberspace?” I said, (stutters). (audience laughing) “I have no idea.” I’d never been asked that before. And I felt like kind of an idiot. So I went home and I
called my spiritual guide, he’s a Rabbi I got to know,
a great Talmudic scholar, when I was the New York
Times correspondent in Jerusalem, his name’s Sphee Marx. Very interesting character. He’s married to a Dutch
priest, lives in Amsterdam. And I called him in Amsterdam and I said “Sphee, I got a question
I’ve never had before. “Is God in Cyberspace? “What should I have said?” And he said, “well Tom,
in our faith tradition, “we have two concepts of the all mighty. “A biblical and a post biblical. “The biblical concept says
the all mighty is all mighty. “He smites evil and rewards good. “And if that’s your view of God, “he sure isn’t in cyberspace. “Which is full of pornography, “gambling, cheating, lying, criminality, “and we know from this
election, fake news.” (audience laughing) But he said, “we fortunately
have a post biblical “view of God, which says that God “manifests himself by how we behave. “So if we want God to be in cyberspace, “we have to bring him there
by how we behave there.” I liked his answer, I wrote it up into the paperback edition
of Lexus and the Olive Tree, and nobody saw it, and I
completely forgot about it. Well I started working on
this book three years ago, and I suddenly found myself
retelling that story. Everywhere I went and I
finally sat down and said, “why are you retelling that story now?” And the answer became
clear to me, and it became crystal clear in this election: it’s because so much of our lives have now migrated to cyberspace. A realm where we’re all
connected but nobody’s in charge. That’s now where we
teach, that’s now where we find a date, a spouse, a friend, how we communicate with families. How we do commerce and how we educate. It’s all moving to cyberspace,
we’re all connected there, but nobody’s in charge. There is no value set there. And boy, did you see
that in this election. Our election was hacked
by another country, we think. Or maybe it was just a group
of guys and gals somewhere. We don’t know. Fake news, we just had a guy shoot up a pizza parlor in my
neighborhood in Washington, DC, because he thought a
story that was purveyed by our future national security advisor, that Hillary Clinton
was running a pedophile ring in the back room of Comet Pizza. He thought that was news. That entire interaction
happened in cyberspace. So, the question of what
values prevail in cyberspace, now is more important
than ever, especially when the accelerations are also amplifying the power of machines and the power of one. Well if you wanna make
something today, you were born, you are going to Claremont
at exactly the right time. But if you wanna break something today, you’re also living at
exactly the right time. We have a president elect
who can sit in his penthouse at Trump Tower and through
Twitter communicate directly, unmediated by
any news organization, with tens of millions of people. From Trump Tower. But we’re also living in
a world where the head of ISIS can do the same
from Raqqa Province. So if you wanna be a
maker or a breaker today, you were born at the
right time and therefore, what values everybody has
now matter more than ever. To put it specifically, the Golden Rule has never been more relevant. Now I know what you’re thinking, I gave this talk as the
commencement address at Olin College of
Engineering last spring, this part of the talk. And I said to the parents, “I know what you’re thinking, “you paid 200 grand so your kid “could get an engineering degree “and there is a knucklehead
commencement speaker “here talking to us about the Golden Rule. “Is there anything more naive?” And my answer is naivete
is the new realism in the age of acceleration. ‘Cause you wanna know what’s really naive? Thinking we’re gonna be okay in a world where
individuals have this much amplified power and it’s
growing with that super nova where we’re all
interconnected if everybody doesn’t get the Golden Rule, whatever version their faith has, and every faith has some version of, “do unto others, as you would
wish them to do unto you.” So when I step back, I
finally concluded that we’re actually sitting
at a moral intersection in the age of accelerations we’ve never sat at before. We are now entering, in
1945 we entered a world where one country, post
Hiroshima, could kill all of us. If it had to be one country,
I’m glad it was mine. I think we’re entering a world where one person can kill all of us and all of us could
actually fix everything. The same amplified powers
are enabling one of us, eventually, to kill all of us, and all of us to actually feed, house, clothe, and educate every
person on the planet. We have never stood at
this intersection before where one of us could kill all of us and all of us could fix everything. What does that mean? We have never been more
God-like as a species. And if we are God-like,
everybody needs to have the Golden Rule. Where does the Golden Rule come from? Golden Rule comes from, I
think, two primary places: strong families and healthy communities. That’s where people
learn to do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you. I’m not an expert on strong families. I hope I built one, but
I would never presume to lecture anyone about how you do that. Everyone has to find their own way. But I am an expert on healthy communities ’cause I grew up in one. And that’s why the book ends
back in the little town, suburb in Minnesota, called St. Louis Park where I grew up, and I have two chapters. The first chapter I explain that, in Minnesota, Minneapolis was the capital of antisemitism in the 30s and 40s until Hubert Humphrey became mayor and cleaned it out of city government. A great hero in our household. Humphrey, before he promoted civil rights between blacks and
whites, actually practiced on antisemitism. And in the 50s after the
war, all the men came home. The Jews all lived in a ghetto in the north side of Minneapolis. I call it the North Side. My parents, actually,
there was no bussing, but they went to school with many, many African Americans ’cause
they were all basically frozen in the same ghetto. And in the mid-50s in a three year period, all the Jews move out. The African Americans couldn’t get out, and all the Jews moved to one suburb, the only one that had no red lining, covenants, and could take them all, and they all moved. My aunt and uncle would
live two doors down, my other uncle lived another door down. They all moved to St. Louis Park. So overnight a suburb that
was 100% Protestant Catholic Scandinavian becomes 20% Jewish, 80% Protestant Catholic Scandinavian. So if Sweden and Israel has a baby, it would be St. Louis Park.
(audience laughing) We the Jews of this frozen plain called ourselves the Frozen Chosen (audience laughing) and we had a little
experiment in inclusion of basically these neurotic Jews thrown together with these incredibly
decent, pluralistic Swedes, and out of that was quite an amazing explosion of creativity. ‘Cause I grew up in the same neighborhood, went through the same school system, or went to the same Hebrew
school, with the Cohen Brothers, Al Franken, Norm Ornstein, Michael Sandel, Peggy Ornstein, Sharon
Isbin, Alan Wiseman, Dan Wilson, who wrote
“Someone Like You” with Adele, the Hupman Brothers, the
country’s leading stamp designers. It was a freaky place. This was not a neighborhood in the upper west side of New York. This was a one high school
town outside of Minneapolis. And the Cohen Brothers
movie, A Serious Man, was about our town. In fact if you go see
No Country For Old Men, and you remember the scene where Chigurh blows up a car outside
of a pharmacy in Mexico so he can steal pain killers inside, look at the name of the pharmacy, it’s called Mike Zoss Drugs. That was our local drug store. So I tell the story of how all these people built an inclusive community. Then I come back 40 years later. And now my high school is 50%
white Protestant Catholic, it’s 10% Hispanic, 10%
Jewish, and now 30% Somali and African American. The same neighborhood that took the Jews was ready to take the Somalis 40 years later. Now the inclusion challenge
is so much deeper. It’s racially more challenging and religiously more challenging. And I tell the story of how they’re doin’. And they’re actually doin’ pretty well. As I look at the challenge,
I tell the whole story, I’m reminded of what my
friend, Amory Lovins, is a great physicist,
he is really my tutor on chapter on mother nature. Whenever you ask Emory, “are you an optimist or a pessimist?” He says, “I’m neither. “‘Cause they’re just two
different forms of fatalism.” Everything’s gonna be great, everything’s gonna be awful, you know. And Amory says, “I
believe in applied hope.” (audience laughs) And I believe in applied
hope and what I’ve seen in St. Louis Park and in Minneapolis, is a lot of people applying hope. I don’t know if it’s gonna work,
and they don’t know either. But what is so heartening
to me, and the source of my optimism, is
there are so many people who wanna get caught trying. And that is something I find, actually in a lot of communities around this country. In fact, if you wanna be
an optimist in America, stand on your head. ‘Cause the country looks so
much better from the bottom up than from the top down. That all over this country, was actually propelling us
forward, our healthy communities. We have troubled ones, too,
we saw that in this election. But we have a lot of healthy communities, where people are coming together, democrats and republicans,
they still have politics, but it’s much more
muted, ’cause there’s no republican water and no democratic sewers and at the end of the day, people have to govern and live together. And at the end of the
day, there are an amazing number of healthy
communities in this country and that is my source of optimism. So let me conclude by sharing with you, my book has a theme song. I actually thought, “could I buy it?” And so when you open
the book, it would play the song like a Hallmark
card plays happy birthday. And the song is by one
of my favorite singers, Brandy Carlile. And she’s a great country folk singer and the song is called “Eye,” E-Y-E. And the main refrain is, “I wrapped your love
around me like a chain, “But I never was afraid that it would die “You can dance in a hurricane, “But only if you’re standing in the eye.” And I believe my three accelerations, they are a hurricane. I believe we just elected someone who thinks he can stop the wind. That he can hold the hurricane back. I don’t think that’s the right strategy. I think you have to build an eye that moves with the storm, draws energy from it,
but creates a platform of dynamic stability where people can feel connected, protected, and respected, and moves with the storm. That for me is the healthy community. I think the struggle in our country in the next four years,
and probably globally, is gonna between the wall
people, and the eye people. And my book is a manifesto
for the eye people. Thank you very much. (audience applause)

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