The number one rule of thriving in the fast-paced world of the present day is changing your perspective as constantly as the world around you changes. Without the ability to shift paradigms, you are not ensured survival – much less growth and development. David Goldsmith is the President of the Goldsmith Organization. He joins Warren Whitlock to discuss how we must shift our perspectives to acclimate to the changes constantly happening around us. Change is the world’s only true constant, so don’t get left behind.
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Fast-Changing Times Require New Perspectives About The Future With David Goldsmith
My guest is David Goldsmith who is a futurist and entrepreneur. He’s my kind of guy, a very smart guy. He wrote 700 pages on getting paid to think. It’s a delight to have gotten to know David. He’s lived all over the world, worked with all sorts of companies and done amazing things. What we’re here to talk about is what we’ve been going through in the economy and the rapid amount of change we have and what that’s done to our plans for the future. If you’re still thinking you’re going to bounce back, you need to tune into this. There’s no bouncing back. David is going to tell us about some strategy. He has and I have some too of ways that you can be doing better. Thanks to the emerging technologies and some of the other things that you can take advantage of here. Welcome to the show, David.
It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me, Warren.
We don’t have any disagreements, but we’ll work on that. We see things a little bit differently. David, the insight you have of being able to have been in many places. You live there. I know in my little world, I lived in Thailand for two years many years ago. It changed my outlook on everything for the next 40 years. Tell us a little bit about that and then we’ll get into our topic. Would you recommend they get a job in another country?
First of all, when you use the word other country, I believe that the world is an amazing place. It’s an unbelievable place to experience, to enjoy and to meet. You and I had spoken about this. Living in a world in different places, you have to learn paradigm shifting. You have to learn how to be able to interact with the different culture. You learn many skillsets. You can take that information and use it in ways you’d never thought of. I’ll give you two examples. You’re in a discussion about manufacturing and an individual says something about, “Those countries such as Bangladesh and India, they do X, Y, and Z.” I said, “Have you ever worked in Bangladesh?” “No, but I’ve read and I’ve learned.” I said, “I’ve worked in Bangladesh. I know what it’s like to work in Bangladesh. I’ve spent a lot of time there.” It’s like, “No, that’s not true,” or someone will say something about a cultural belief structure. You could say, “That’s not exactly how they look at it in that South African culture.”
One experience I had in Moscow or St. Petersburg where I was having dialogues with individuals as I was working there for some time. A group of individuals kept on responding back, “That’s what you think. That’s what America thinks.” I said, “I keep on saying that’s how Putin thinks, why don’t you come back and say that’s how Obama thinks.” This is during the Obama administration. They said, “You’re an American. You voted Obama and you all think like Obama.” We might laugh at that. To understand a society that went from not many years ago, seeing a person run down the street and getting on line to run after them, not knowing what’s going on because it might be potatoes or shoes or something available, to now a society where at least in Moscow and St. Petersburg, it is not all of Russia.
The globe uses the term Russia not realizing it’s a very big country with a lot of distributed type of living styles. To some degree, they have an amazing life compared to what they have many years ago. They approach things differently. I would recommend anybody living outside of their own country and I use Europe as one. If you’re in Europe, you go to Asia. If you’re in Europe, you go to South Africa or you go to Brazil. If you’re in South America, live in the States or live in Europe or live someplace else to get that global taste. It’s amazing.
It goes beyond being able to see the places. It’s not travel or I can say, “I’ve stayed in these different hotels.” I’ve stayed at the Marriott Hotel in Bangladesh. It’s not quite the same. You need to do business with the people. It’s also true of attitudes of things. I know entrepreneurs think differently than people who work a 9:00 to 5:00. It’s not that we’re better. It’s that we have different experiences. If anything, the experiences are better. It gives us a different way of looking at things. The one I got, I posted that somebody had the notion of if they own one Bitcoin, that they saw a scenario where you could retire on that. I thought, “It’s a little bit far fetch.” It was not a prediction. It was a thought problem. That’s the way I read it.
It wasn’t even a thought problem. It was a knowledge problem. It was a misunderstanding of completely what Bitcoin is about and its journey.
The idea of if the Fiat economy completely went away and we didn’t have anything, would we still have Bitcoins? It’s a big question. A bar of gold or something might be worth a different value. In real estate, it could be anything. That’s the way I thought of it. I retweeted it. I had people come up with like your reaction, laughing or questioning my judgment of forever tweeting about it. A few people said, “We want it to be that way.” One said, “It sounds like a guy with some FOMO. He probably missed out on buying Bitcoins. He wanted to feel good about buying it at a higher price.” That’s not the point. The point is they most likely will be using a more digitized type of currency several years from now. If you’re not figuring out that’s going to be part of life and you’re stuffing dollar bills under the mattress as your savings plan, you may not be thinking ahead.
There’s a lack of understanding of not only Fiat currencies, crypto, the tokenization, Bitcoin and how they all interact. It’s the industries who’ve done a poor delivery of what it does as well as the individuals that are involved to keep on sharing this information. For example, a friend of mine who bought Bitcoin in 2009 has never sold a coin and he’s extremely wealthy before. I don’t think he bought $10 worth. In 2009, Bitcoin was almost nothing. I won’t even give you the volume, but I’m going to assume that it’s a very high number.
To go back to the digital currency, if that was the point we’re making, if you go to China, you don’t use currency. You use WeChat or Alipay or you use any of the delivery mechanisms that they’ve got and use your phone. Even the street vendors, if you want to buy something on the street, they have a QR code and you pay. If you want to rent a bike, you would unlock the bike with your phone and you pay for it with your phone. Your WeChat, you can order food. You can order from a restaurant and they’ll deliver. You can send money to a friend. You can chat. Having currency in China is the future to a large degree what the rest of the world hasn’t seen. When I lived for ten years in Hong Kong, we never wrote checks. The United States, for me to do a wire transfer, requires me to go to the bank, have someone else type in the little numbers and then they get to send it. It’s $40 where I would do my bill paying all online and do all my own wire transfers all the time.
I have turned onto a couple of things where I send wires without going to the bank now.
I understand but it’s not the banking system you’re using. I do use international trading currency situation, but it’s not what you said about digital currency. I believe that currency will change.
We have people with their different reactions to the Libra Project in Facebook. Does it mean that Facebook is going to steal all our money? They don’t make any sense sometimes with what they’re worried about. You realize that they don’t have it. When somebody says to me this cryptocurrency is all about trading for drugs. They then tell me they’ve never owned a Bitcoin. They’d never investigate what it is. They can’t explain what blockchain is. They don’t understand that. I say the word blockchain and they’re thinking that I’m talking about stealing money. It has nothing to do with that. It’s nice that blockchain was created for Bitcoin, but it means so much more now. That diversity of thought is great. I find somebody who has a different political opinion than me, and I want to engage them as long as it doesn’t resort in name calling. In other words, not online.
It depends on the country you’re in.The whole world is an unbelievable place to experience, to enjoy, and to meet. Click To Tweet
I want to hear other divergent views, not just from other countries, but from other ways of thinking. People that have different religious beliefs. People that have silly ideas about all sorts of things. I would like to have an intelligent conversation with the flat earther. I’ve yet to find one, but I’m going to keep on trying.
A recommendation, I wouldn’t spend time looking for one.
It’s going to take a long time to find somebody because I’m going to have to trip over them. Finding an intelligent person, they say that. I’ll give you a one closer to home. I talk to people who are good friends that I’ve done a lot of business with. They then tell me their attitude towards vaccines. I go, “You seem to be informed about most of what’s going on in the world. How did you miss this one?”
As humans, I don’t think we teach or spend enough time teaching individuals how to be able to do a few things. I’ll name two. I can get ten off the top of my head right now. I could write them, but two of them. One is connecting dots. The second one is forecasting. Let’s take both of them together and give you a quick example. This is not even artificial intelligence. It’s not machine learning. It’s none of that. It’s two pieces of data. A friend of mine who’s a very bright person says to me, “The Coronavirus would be over in twelve weeks.” I said, “How did you come to that conclusion?”
“I’ve been watching these charts and all of these data points and in twelve weeks, it’s over.” I said to her, “Okay.” She then sends me on WhatsApp and she says, “Look at these two charts.” There’s a chart of China and there’s a chart of Italy and there are standard curves. What you’re seeing is China has the curve go up and then down like a normal bell-shaped curve that you see. She said, “It took about twelve weeks.” I said, “That was very draconian in how they approached it. It took twelve.” She then sent me the chart of Italy. She sees they’re on the same trajectory.
I said, “Stop for a moment. First of all, Wuhan is not China. It is a city within China and you’re using the data from one geographic point to represent the entire country. The second is you’re using Italy, which had a kindling of fact, but it’s not Italy. This is primarily Northern Italy, not the country of Italy. Therefore, to extrapolate to the United States is a data error because we have New York as its own city. If you take off all of the lines that we draw, Boston is now starting their curve and who knows if it could last a plateau. It could be for 3 or 5 months.
One hopes we’ve learned something, but we don’t know.
What we did in Florida, I don’t know if this is true so please don’t quote me, but I read about 420 old age homes, senior homes have the Coronavirus in it. Because of the beaches and the continued opening, the spreading could be a whole different curve. Houston is just starting. California did a lockdown. How do you tell me that the United States will be over in twelve weeks total? “David, you don’t understand. You’re not forecasting well. You’re not connecting the dots.” Take Europe and take away all the charts and look at the population. Take the world and look at the population. You can get a better sense of the data because Wuhan does not make China. She couldn’t get that. She’s educated and very bright in many different areas, but she could not put those pieces together. I don’t know if that’s a flaw in our educational system, or it’s a flaw in awareness, or it’s a flaw in even biology. Maybe certain people can’t see.
We don’t have enough data points to make that. It’s human nature to try to make something out of a pattern whether or not we can see the pattern or not. We’ve had a lot of that going on. For the record, we’re having this interview without a peak in anything in the United States. Anything we allude to here could be totally wrong before we even start processing this episode, let alone get it out there.
They released that 116 people in Korea that were positive, tested negative are now positive again. The same people reignited. As I did in one of the videos I did online, we’re talking about points and data. Our challenges that in order to make good decisions going forward as you suggested with the program is how to be able to interpret tomorrow. What are we going to do? We have to spend more time in the future and understand how to be able to extrapolate, understand, put together information in a way that is useful. The future is never accurate. It could be a degree of accuracy.
Speaking of flat earth, it used to be the prevailing wisdom or a planet for 70, 80 years and it wasn’t a planet. There are facts that change and we have to be prepared for that. Extrapolating it down to twelve weeks is wrong. Based on my reading, there seems to be a line that’s going at twelve weeks. I would say it’s somewhere between 2 and 200. If you said that, you’re not wrong. You’ve got to put a range and a probability on something if you’re going to try to say anything with any degree of authority. First thing, if you say it’s going to be 29 weeks or 62 weeks, I wouldn’t believe you either.
What I have alluded to in my analysis are the gaps that we still are not considering. It’s very difficult to compare cities. It’s very difficult to compare populations and to pull data out of that. If we were to use Wuhan and their governance structure and we use the United States with its governance structure, that in and of itself creates such anomalies. Wuhan was able to be shut down. Forty thousand Chinese healthcare workers were flown in to one city the size of New York City.
Imagine if 40,000 people were flown in to help stop the disease, but then we have the state of Florida, which stopped New Yorkers from coming down and testing them, but didn’t close the border off for people driving in, making no sense in terms of a plan to be able to mitigate. The challenge that I’m looking at, which is even bigger, I always go to 7.5 billion people. That is my construct. I always use it. You’ll hear me say, “Let’s start with 7.5, does it work for 7.5?”
What we’re not hearing about in first world countries is we’re not having the dialogue of what happens next. I don’t know the timeline. I just know it will happen. We have Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Brazil, Mexico and the continent of Africa. We don’t hear anything about them. There are slums or ghetto that go up to 2.5 million people where the social distancing of 2 meters or 6 feet is impossible to a large degree. There’s going to be no testing so they will not be considered COVID because then we will not know if they had it. They will stay home. They cannot wash their hands and wash their bodies the same way that we do. They don’t have the protective gear.
They don’t have the ventilators. They will get sick in their home and then spread it within their home because the family will take care of them and they’ll die without ever knowing just like in Italy. They’ve come back with reports that two nursing homes side-by-side lost 30% of their population, approximately 23 and 35 people. They were never tested. That 65 people who were never tested but most likely died of COVID. The challenge when we get to Africa is even worse. Not because Africa is a bad place. Please don’t take it that way. I love Africa.
I had a company in Africa and South Africa and that’s where we do our computational social science and artificial intelligence work. African countries, some of them have as few as 12 or 5 or no ICU beds in the entire country with twenty million people. How do you fight a pandemic that could be reoccurring, such as I talked about in Korea, if parts of the world haven’t even exploded yet? That will be the first world challenge with third world. How do we help them overcome an insurmountable challenge? I don’t have an answer for that. That’s one of the things that I wrestled with.
There are a lot of us who are still worried about how it’s going to affect my ZIP code.
I look at that too. My friends are around the world. My day travels the world.
I know my family is safe and my neighborhood is safe. I’m not going to meet anybody on the street. I know people who have affected families. In my day-to-day, walking around my neighborhood, it seems safe. Las Vegas has a couple of thousand cases. We seem to have hit the peak, but we’re all staying home. What we have to worry about is what is this going to do to life? How many more lives are going to be lost because of lives or disasters or call it what you may? It’s something I don’t want to say as bad as COVID, but up there in major life present. Everything from divorce to depression to psychiatric needs to whatever, even death that’s going to happen because this crisis happened. It completely changed what we thought was normal. That could be a huge number.
It’s huge in many ways. I know that you had said you’re concerned about your ZIP code in your area. I, too, would like my population. I don’t go outside so I don’t even know if there are people out there. I could be living in a fake world right now and I don’t even know it because I’m the object of this. I believe that I’m living in a world that’s artificial. When I go back to that 7.5 billion and why your ZIP code is important, I’m not making this political, I’m making it factual.
Let’s take January 31st where the United States, which is I do not believe was the first country to start, I think it was China or Japan who stopped the travel from Chinese PRC, People’s Republic of China individuals. The United States was not number one, but the administration stopped flights from China to the United States. However, let’s take a look at that, the border between Hong Kong and China was still open. People left and they normally would take off and take the travel down by train and they leave out of the Hong Kong Airport or they fly from Beijing to Tokyo or Seoul or to any of the countries on their East Coast. They’d then fly to the States and those were all allowed.
Many of the expats in Wuhan, many of the expats in Hong Kong, my friends, decided to get away from the disease and they flew to Zurich, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Istanbul airports and then distributed from there to multiple countries. Those individuals then flew to the United States where they’re with the people that they met. We didn’t cordon off a border by taking one country. My point going back to all of these countries, Brazil, Mexico and the list that I gave is these individuals do business with us. Your ZIP code has most probably people from every one of those countries, a person from Pakistan or Bangladesh and they grew up.
That’s the big advantage of living in Las Vegas. There are two million of us local and 45 million visitors. If I went to a grocery store, I’d see people speaking 3 or 4 different languages. It’s a very cosmopolitan place.
How would CES be if we didn’t allow anybody from not the ZIP codes around Las Vegas? How would that be? We don’t operate that way. The best ad that I’ve seen, did you see the German ad of the grocery store?
A German grocery store was so set up with the xenophobia that was happening in Europe. What happened was they took off everything off of the shelves overnight when no one knew that came from another country or ingredients from another country. People walked in and they film them. They’re saying, “What happened? The shelves are absolutely empty.” “Everybody’s afraid of different cultures. We won’t take everything from other countries.” One woman says, “No chocolate.” They’re saying in German like, “What can I buy?” The shelves were empty because the xenophobia is so bad.
We have on top of it the disease of COVID and it brings home a message that I did on a video. I’ve seen Asian individuals outside of Asia wearing a mask and people point to them. They laugh at them and they say, “Those people are afraid of us, afraid to get sick.” It’s a remnant from SARS and H1. What it is, is they got so sick and people were dying. They were so afraid that they wear a mask to save the community. Whenever you see an Asian before COVID, they wore it to not get you sick because they woke up that morning not feeling good.
Westerners are about themselves so therefore I don’t put on a mask to protect you, but their culture had adopted the Asian culture to a large degree, adopted this belief structure. “I wake up, I don’t feel good. I’ll put on a mask to protect others.” The xenophobia is going to continue with Asia and other countries. “You’re Italian. Do you have COVID?” That’s going to be a huge challenge even with all of the technology we’re going to put in place.
Some things have got to go up or other things go down. At some point, we’re all going to live through this and go to something else. What permanent changes are there? How should we be thinking of being progressive and profit from this in the best ways possible?
There are a few areas. I’ve got a list of about fifteen, but I’ll give you a few off the top that I’m looking at. The first one that came to mind is no matter where you are in the world, automation will be paramount decision-making. What I mean by that is this, if you had a company that has 60 employees and because of the impact of having to pay for them during COVID or the fact that you had to shut down during COVID is going to make decision-makers say to themselves, “I want to have less individuals per delivery of product so that I do not have to shut down or I can manage my business when times get challenging.”In the time of COVID, shelves are empty because xenophobia is bad. Click To Tweet
It’s not a matter of, “We need to automate to get rid of employees.” It’s a matter of, “I have a factory or a facility and I can’t operate like this if there’s ever a challenge. My career would be wiped out.” On another layer underneath is that business owners or leaders of businesses or let’s use that term, leaders of organizations, profit, nonprofit, government, military, education, are inherently always thinking. It’s not easy to understand that person wakes up this way every day, Saturday and Sunday. They’re now assessing who is needed and who’s not. Companies will be smaller as a result of the behavioral disassociation with one another just because we found inefficiencies in our systems.
It’s got to be a trend that’s exists that’s going to become deeper. When somebody asked me whether or not companies would be hesitant to invest in automation because it being a tough time, I’m going to say no. The average manager or owner has got to be saying to themselves, “I was a fool. I should have invested in that automation. I shouldn’t have held onto all those employees thinking it was the PC right thing to do.”
I wouldn’t say I’m a fool. I would say that individual made the best decision that they could at the time.
I’m not saying they’re a fool. I’m saying they’re saying they’re a fool.
If you were to go to countries, places or factories I’ve been in, I have been in facilities where there’s not a single human being manufacturing. I have been in centers where there are six people doing the work of 300, not just manufacturing or operations because whether we used AI, machine learning, any outsourcing capabilities, the need or the desire to reformulate what’s important, that’s going to put a huge strain on society.
I’m reading a good book on future work right now and they pointed out how there were times when automation was available, but it wasn’t implemented because it was so cheap to get labor. As the cost of labor goes up, that changes, which is an ever-ongoing trend. The economics of labor is what we have to take another look at. Capitalism was built on deploying capital. The fact that manpower was cheap 200 years ago and became more expensive in the US. They went offshore and whatnot. We’re looking at any human has got such a cost compared to what you can do with a machine. Even if you’re all a pro-human, you want to take care of them and let’s give everybody UBI and socialized everything, you’ve still got to think, “If I need my factory to run, it needs to be automated.”
There are different schools of thought. I’m appalled at the logic and the commentary that I read when I read an article on the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, SCMP, South China Morning Post, German papers, all the items that I’m looking at. The amount of inhumanity or lack of understanding or lack of capability to see the implications of the decisions being made are beyond my imagination sometimes. This is supposed to be a nice one. A person puts up, “Let’s congratulate these individuals for the work that they’ve done.” It was on LinkedIn. There was a woman holding a sign that said, “This day was supposed to be our wedding,” and they work in healthcare. They’re in their gowns.
The next is a guy, as they’re kissing, and he says, “We’re here for you. Please stay home.” There were people picking on their clothing, that their shoes were a little dirty, that they should not be working in healthcare, they should get out and this is unsanitary. I’m thinking, “What is wrong with you?” On the same token, I read an article about someone who is arguing how right now people should be afraid of China because China is coming in. They’re now taking advantage of the opportunity because of the Coronavirus. Not China virus, it’s Coronavirus.
The argument was, “Don’t trust the Chinese because they are going to learn the military advantages that can hurt the United States.” I’m thinking, “You’re thinking that the fact that China sent masks and ventilators to Italy is a bad thing, because they’re using it as political capital, which is brilliant. However, I know from my own personal contacts and business that the Americans flew in and took 7,000 ventilators that were on order for Spain and the UK and took them away, paying over $30 million more for the same product because they don’t know how to negotiate with Asia. The Spanish and the UK learned about it.
I know that the Germans stopped the flight of materials that were needed for Israel and they know America went in Thailand and stopped masks that were supposed to go to another country. If you do that, do you think they should worry about China or should they worry about the US? The United States daily briefing is showing to the world or demonstrating to the world, “We’re not going to help you.” Why wouldn’t they look at China? The implications of decisions being made technologically and now is they might have access to American military arsenal to see what they have.
The same would be back to your xenophobic comments of how we would feel if we went into the grocery store and saw it was empty. A lot of people would say, “Let’s shut down the borders and start growing everything ourselves again.” That’s not the answer. We’ve got to go forward. I don’t think we’re being political here. We disagree on some of the issues and some things like that. What we agree on is that the world is going to go forward. It’s not going to go backward. We need to find out where that’s going and take advantage of it and do whatever we can. Something that hit me was I’m reading this book. I remember it was the time I was driving on the empty strip here in Las Vegas strip. If you need to go there, it’s low traffic. Don’t go because you need to be staying at home.
If you happen to be running an errand like me, I had to pick up the grocery order. I thought about leaving it over there until the end of the crisis. I’m in my car, windows rolled up and not talking to anybody. I’m driving down the strip. I’m listening to my book on tape figuring this is going to take forever because it’s going to mean there’s a line someplace and I don’t do lines normally. Let alone when there are people coughing, causing me problems. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get this all accomplished and say, “I may have to sit in my car away for a while.” I had the book on tape and I’m having a good time. We were talking about the future of work. We had to start measuring things in other ways than what the labor is worth, how much dollars you can make on your job.
We’re going to have that coming in the future, maybe sooner because of this. It got me thinking, “Right now, the people that are laid off with or without the money coming in.” Let’s erase the fact that it’s going to screw up their personal finances. Let’s put that aside for a moment because that’s a big one by itself and say, “Those people aren’t being productive.” I know this. I have family members that are sitting around waiting for it’s time to go back to work. What I’ve watched is they are bored out of their skulls. They want to work. It has nothing to do with the money. They can’t control the money part of it. They’re laid off. We have to start adding that up in the economic models. Somehow if we’re going to prosper, we’re either going to need the machines to do it or we’re going to have to find and make work for people. Who wants a job that’s make work? Dig a hole and then fill it up.
There are many different angles to that narrative. Let’s take one of them to start then we can go from there. If we were to look at the world population, the majority of countries around the world are slowing down in terms of growth especially youth. We have an old and aging world. There are some pockets. You have Africa. You have India. Europe is going to lose about 50 million people over the next 15, 20 years of old age. Russia is going to lose about 30 million. In the next ten years, China will have 430 million people who are elderly. You have an elderly population in Japan. The United States is developing an older population for sure.
The models were that we would continue to bring in other people from around the world, which would balance some of that from Mexico or other youth that would keep the United States developing. If we took the older population areas, having automation, artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, synthetic engineering, sensor tech, can be a huge advantage there. In Japan, they’re using robots to help the elderly to be able to do exercises in a room. You put these elderlies in and they have a robot that puts an arm out and it communicates. The elderlies go along with it. It also can lift older people, can be an assistant to them, can bring them food, depending on what position they’re in.
China has a single baby policy. They did open it up to having multiple babies. The challenge is the first year they had so few people opt into it that it was not what they anticipated. These individuals will need to be helped in one way. They won’t have the factories. They won’t have the individuals. Having machinery in the factories and automated factories helps their economy to be stronger. One thing I do admire about a leader who’s made a decision of industries they want to support that are advanced such as we want to be in robotics and Dream, which is part of a plan that was developed by an Asian country is that there’s an understanding of the future need to be able to fulfill certain services.
Garbage pickup could be one of them. Hiring bus drivers is another one of them. When we look at the jobs that will be lost across because of COVID, you’re talking the United States, those individuals who will be wiped out economically because they’ll have no healthcare. We’re not including the people who got sick and were not unemployed, who now have a $70,000 bill for staying in a hospital for ten days who have wiped them out, which is one of the majority of bankruptcies in United States is healthcare. How do we help individuals return back to a normalized life?
The answers are more complicated because they are getting older. They aren’t 26 where they can redo like the Great Depression. There were a lot of youth. Now we have people who are 56 who are being laid off or 46 and decisions that we made. The complexity has to be addressed in a very futuristic perspective, not in futuristic tech-wise. I’ve seen healthcare around the world that’s just as amazing compared to the United States. We’re going to have a lot. This is not going to be an easy road to travel with the decision-makers making the decisions they’re making.
We’re not going to be able to make decisions like we made it in the past. The political process has got to change some way. This is not a one way or the other. It’s certainly not parties. It’s not even systems. It’s like they’re all worn out. We need something new. One of the turning points for me was a few years ago, I thought of myself as a die-hard capitalist. I picked up a book called The End Of Capitalism. If it was about how we ought to get rid of the capitalists and the world would be a better place and socialism was better or anything like that, I wouldn’t have read it. What got to me was that, “What’s the end game of capitalism if we were able to feed everybody? If everybody was being taken care of, what does capitalism have left to do? As we moved to a zero-cost margin on things to where the communications is free. The air, I think, will still be free.
You’ll pay for it in Texas to live in the area. I don’t think air will be free.
Water has always been free. You pay to have it delivered.
My South African partner said something amazing one day and he said, “I don’t understand why Americans as capitalists don’t understand the concept of healthcare. When someone gets sick and they can’t afford healthcare, they don’t get healthcare, they become sicker. Eventually, the society has to take care of them. What is wrong with paying for healthcare so that everybody has healthcare? When someone gets sick, they can get taken care of and go back to work and contribute.” I’ll give you an example of how powerful that is. I’m in Hong Kong, I don’t feel well. I’ve got a residency card. I go to the hospital and they have a clinic sign, “Walk in.”
A person says, “What are you here for?” I said, “I’m not feeling great.” They walk me to a counter. There are about ten counters. I’m thinking I brought a book with me and a laptop. I’m going to get some work done because this is going to be a full day. I sit down and the person says, “Do you have a card?” I handed her the card and she types my name in. She says, “You’re going to have to get your vitals taken. They will be over for you in a few minutes.” I sit down in a chair and three minutes later, a person says, “Come on over here.”
We walk over to this area. They take my vitals, not in a room, but an open room. They do all of my vitals and they say, “You could take a seat.” I open up my book and I say, “I’ve got twenty minutes to half-hour.” A woman comes over in less than seven minutes and says, “You need to come with me.” I keep my finger in the book because I know this is a little too fast. She sits me down and she says, “The doctor will see you soon.” I opened up my book again and within less than seven minutes, they say, “David Goldsmith please.” I stand up, they pull me in and who am I meeting? I’m sitting across from a doctor. He says, “What’s going on?” He asked me some questions. He said, “You might have a respiratory fluid that you didn’t get rid of during the summer. It’s a cough that’s lingered, but we want to make sure you need some X-rays.”
He takes out a piece of paper. I’m thinking, “Where do I have to go? This is going to take my afternoon.” They put me outside. Within less than ten minutes, a person comes over and says, “David Goldsmith.” He walks me for several minutes and he’s the technician. He takes my X-rays, brings me back and says, “You’ll meet the doctor soon.” Within less than ten minutes, I’m back in the doctor’s office and he says, “We’ve looked at the X-rays. You do have some fluid. You need some meds.” He writes me a script. I’m outside again. This is all happening within about an hour and a half.
I’m sitting out there and I don’t know what comes next. A woman comes over and says, “You need to come with me, sir.” She walks me to the pharmacy who is also the cashier. They take the script, get the drugs, and they put them down. I have three drugs for over a week. The woman says, “That will be $1,200.” My mind clicked to America for that second, HK $1,200, which is about $150. I not only saw the doctor twice, got my X-rays taken, got my vitals taken care. He made sure I was okay. I got my meds. I was out within an hour and a half, maybe two if I was trying to be precise. I was back to work doing my job because I was taken care of.
That’s a beautiful example of how the human productivity has got to be counted in a different way than what the economic output is. I have to say on behalf of the American system, which I usually rail against, I’m up working early and I hear a little bit of a thud and then some moaning and I go, “That’s the daughter going to work at 6:00 in the morning. Moaning is not a sound I should be hearing. I go down the stairs, she’s at the bottom of the stairs, collapsed, her ankle is swelling. She says, “I can’t get up.” I’m like, “Okay, great.” Mom gets up and we get her into the car. I drive her two minutes away to the newest hospital emergency care thing that has been opened.
We take her in there. That was at 6:10 AM. I didn’t notice it until it was all over that she got radiology. She had a doctor there and they were training people there. The place was empty so there were a lot of people paying attention. We got it all done. We were at the Walgreens trying to get a prescription when we found out the sign at the Walgreens said, “Not open until 7:00.” I don’t remember exactly, but it was enough minutes that we go, “I’ll take you home,” because they’d given her some drugs. I’ll get the prescription when Walgreen is open. All within an hour, this is all over with.When we look at the world population, the majority of countries are slowing down in terms of growth. Click To Tweet
You had one thing that many Americans don’t have. You had an insurance company paying for the bills.
I was going to say, “I do not have healthcare insurance.” She does. I’m there worried. I’ve got the credit card and what cash I have and everything. I’m dad. I’m going to take care of it in the moment. It costs $150 including X-rays. When the bill came that it was more like $10,000. She was in poverty over it. Her salary is not enough that didn’t make a big difference. She’s got the copay or the whatever and it went or got to be more like $2,000 and she needed surgery. It turned out that she broken all the bones in her ankle and that’s it. A simple slip and fall, and her life had completely changed. Having nothing to do with the fact that she couldn’t go back upstairs and had to sleep on the couch in the living room for six weeks. With all the missed work and everything, all the worry of that seems like nothing now compared to COVID.
There is a huge financial cost. There is a huge behavioral cost. There is a huge psychological cost. I’m not saying that healthcare in Hong Kong is the best healthcare in the world. It’s not. Many people fly from Hong Kong to Thailand or they fly to other countries to Singapore.
I agree with you in saying that the difference is the fact that you went back to work and you didn’t need to alter your lifestyle to pay for the bill.
Not at all. It was surreal. It was absolutely out of this world. I’m saying to myself, and I’m a person who I’d see myself as a person in the world but, “Why can’t my country do this?” I have a full family of physicians and I was pre-Med, Organic Chemistry, Physics, Calculus. That’s my background. I’ve worked in the emergency room, elderly ward, pediatrics ward. I’ve worked in the operating room. I understand this. Now how do we move forward? Can we use things and should we use things such as teleservices?
For example, my sons had been sick for several days. Our system was not handled properly from the get-go. My sons could not get tested because we did not have the tests. They could not also get tested for their other potential possibilities because the system was overloaded. We found out that they have pneumonia. They could have died of pneumonia. We didn’t have that system. What ended up happening was the doc with both our sons in different places did a teleservice. They did it over the video, which is fantastic. That’s one way to take the burden off of the system. AI, now there are technologies out there, I know more are working on it, where you will go to the toilet and it will measure the pH of your urine. It will measure the concentration of your bowel movement.
They have mirrors that are being developed that will look at your skin color and your skin to show signs. There is technology being created where your voice, something like Alexa, can pick up if you have a change in your speaking pattern. So much so that it will warn you of a stroke or a heart attack, too, because it can tell that you’ve either slurred a word or you’ve done something different. The technology is to a large degree on an amazing trajectory, no less than COVID was in terms of growth, of being able to allow individuals to participate in the world in a different way.
Let’s use tokenization. The reason tokenization doesn’t often work is making games are hard. It’s very simple. Bobby Kotick, who started Activision, and I were in the same cabin in a camp that we went together. He founded Activision. He built a business because he could figure out games. Games are not easy to make. That’s why we still play Monopoly, Jenga and all these games that are around for 4,000 years. We still play them because making games are not easy.
However, what if my contribution can be measured in a way that if I give to a nonprofit, I spend time doing the accounting for a religious group or for a community group and I’m an accountant, why can’t I get credit off my tax bill so that I don’t have to be paid by them, but I’m volunteering my time? This way, again, how do you measure this? Maybe you don’t have to work as hard and you could still have the same standard of living by contributing in a way with your intellectual capital.
Maybe there are ways that we can re-look at. This is a big jump for many cultures. There’s a lot of hatred between groups. There are not just two parties in the United States. There’s independence and there are people who don’t even find a home. They’re around the world where we have a very broad perspective on everything. Those clashes are going to continue to escalate as Hungary has now moved more to authoritarian and as Putin has gained power because of the American’s absence. The TPP was not in place so China has a different positioning that is now allowed or capable.
We’re never going to solve the challenges in the Middle East. Jared will not solve it. No one will solve it because there are two or multiple different groups who look at the world differently. I believe that artificial intelligence might find some new solutions, yet it still will take quite some time. As my artificial intelligence partner used to always say, “We have an A and we have an I, but we don’t have the I.” We have the A. We have artificial, but we don’t have intelligence. Our computers are not human. They are not going to be human for a very long time.
We can do the analytics of this, come up with the data, massage it and give us some ideas. We can enhance human intelligence but we’re long way off from artificial general intelligence. I don’t even care if we’re working on it. It’s so far off. I get the idea of it. What we ought to be looking for is the good old labor-saving devices that come out of technology. The other thing is let’s see if we could solve the big problem. We know the difference between the haves and the haves not, the 1% and the 0.001% are somehow the six riches humans have as much as the lower half of the planet. I hope I’m exaggerating on that. At any rate, that disparity, that inequality, that’s not the problem. That’s the symptom.
If what we do is reward people for finding the tax loopholes and do certain things because it betters society. I’m saying that as an assumption, not wanting to get into an argument over that. Definitely that one is not an absolute. The only answer we have is we ought to take some more money from them and give it to people that don’t have. I’m going like the outcome is okay there, but we know the bureaucracy, the systems we’ve tried to use to balance out and make things more equal have caused new problems. Maybe we ought to be saying, “AI, smart people, innovators, let’s come up with the next capitalist entrepreneurial challenges. How do we take care of the poor and the people that aren’t qualified to work anymore without having to put them on the dole and build big buildings where we put them like the projects?”
If you could give me the absolute honest, don’t sway it because I’d like you to answer this in a way so I can get an answer. When you thought of what you described, were you thinking about the individual who lives in the Philippines in the slums or were you thinking of primarily first-world?
I was thinking of those displaced by technology. Somebody who was in the Philippines, but there’s another set of problems. Let’s say we’re fixing the ladder category and helping them. I’m thinking about the new ones, the technology unemployed.
The challenge becomes this group of individuals is not going to be able to follow most likely the same trajectory. They’re going to have many benefits. They will have mobile phones. They’ll have medicine. They’ll have diagnostics. The world has become better and there are less poverty people in the world. Unfortunately, our definition of becoming better is becoming more capitalistic, which requires you to buy more, which harms our oceans, which harms our air, which harms all other sorts of parameters.
If an individual, in my opinion, has not worked and seen the world in this way, they cannot understand how the world lives. Let’s give the analogy. These are round numbers. I’d have to look them up but use them as reference points. There are three billion people who live under approximately $2 a day, another 1.5 billion who live under $3 a day, which is approximately in Mexico. That’s 4 billion to 5 billion people on this planet. For one moment, try to think of the number of people in your community.
I’d like you to think of 5, 10, 50, 500, 5,000, 50,000, 500,000, 5 million, 50 million, 500 million people. I’m going to tell you what you did. Five people could have been a room, a group of family. Ten people could have been all a small get together for dinner or going out. If you went to 50 people, you thought of maybe a small conference or a training session or a company. You went to 500 people and you thought of maybe an event, a wedding, a ceremony or something. If you went up to 5,000 people, now you’re thinking of a concert or something larger, a sporting event. When you think a 50,000, you go to a stadium. When I said, you think of five million people, you can’t.
What you did is you thought of maybe a city or a block or region. When I said 50 million, it went to a bigger city. We lose perspective over the size of say a stadium because we never see that many people, 80,000, 100,000, 150,000 people. When we’re addressing the challenge on a global scale, how do you get individuals to understand what it’s like to live in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Philippines, Cambodia? If you go there to speak and you go in and stay in a beautiful hotel and fly out, that’s very different than working side by side with a Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Cambodian or Filipino person in their own country.
I’ve been in all different parts of the world where people live and work. Get your mind around solving it. It means that we have to continually think on a larger scale. I’ve had this conversation many times about solving world challenges. It’s always stop, stop, stop. You cannot take this small group of people to live in first world countries. I hate to use first and third world, but it’s the definition we use because it’s not really first and third world. Are you solving the challenge for the United States? Are you solving the challenge for Europe? Are you solving the challenge for China? What are you solving for?
Seldom do they think of the Sri Lankans. It could be the Aussies down under. It’s understanding that everything we do has consequences. Our world will be impacted by the number of people who are unemployed, who are not fed, who will be looking for safe haven or looking for opportunities. We saw that with Syria, 5.2 million people approximately were kicked out of their homes. I’m not talking political. It was a battle. You can use it as that, 5.2 million and no one wanted them throughout Europe.
What happens when we have sea water level rise and I won’t go into the data, but enough that causes 50 million people to be displaced. We have challenges in the next 40 years, which I have a foundation that I’ve been working a few years on alongside of. NASA gave it the name. It was founded with NASA. We’re looking to change how we live on earth for all species and to get individuals to rethink many of the things that we’re talking about. How can we use AI or how can we use technology? AI is a subdivision of it. How can we change human nature?
I know there are plenty of people who think the world is becoming more aware, more connected and more bold. It is not. We are seeing authoritarian rise. I go back to even people who are educated. Look at the bottom of the Wall Street Journal comments, look at the YouTube comments about things that are political and they are vicious. We are not becoming a kinder and gentler world. How do we allow everybody to live their lives with hope and prosperity, at the same time, not overburden the same world in which we live so that our oceans die, our sea water levels rise? We don’t create gated communities. It begs to ask a different question. What do we want to be and how can we bring everybody on earth there? Elon Musk believes we need to go to Mars because he believes it’s going to end here.
That’s a nice back-up plan. If he does leave and goes to Mars, he hadn’t solved the problem. Let’s look at those numbers again and say if we want to have the greatest impact, it will be of those people that are living on a $1 to $3 a day. There is a lot of good news in there that while the number of citizens of the world has gone way up, the percentage of poverty is not going up. There are some good things happening to them. We wrote a book, Billions Rising, about exactly this class back in 2013. What we found was most people are looking for a hand-up instead of a handout. They care about solving their problems. Not all of them want to live like Americans. One would think, plenty will, enough to cause the problems you’ve described.
Where can you have the greatest impact on people and giving them hope? It might be in Sri Lanka or one of those kinds of places. Perhaps before we worry about what’s going to happen at the end of capitalism, we worry about how we’re going to get those people taken care of until we get to that point that we can talk about the end of capitalism. There are capitalistic entrepreneurial activities that are possible. Somehow these people that was the old coal miner teaching them coding thing is not going to work. We’re going to take a coal miner who’s unemployed and give them a chance to do something else. I’m not a fan of NGOs by nature but maybe it is. There are a lot of NGO jobs.
James Carville, who is a democratic strategist, is married to a woman who is a Republican strategist. He made a statement, which I thought was absolutely brilliant. Someone asked him, “How do you find the Democrats?” I’m thinking, “I don’t know. How do you find Democrats?” He said, “You don’t have to find Democrats. You don’t have to find Republicans. We learned this a long time ago. They find you.” They read the Wall Street Journal. They read the New York Times. They search out people who believe in their way.
I heard somebody else say something, which I don’t believe it was him, which I thought was brilliant in this case. He said, “The Democrats and the Republicans are both right, but they come at it from a different perspective.” Whoever had said it said this, “If someone is poor or on their edge and you ask a Republican what you should do,” taking the assumption that a Republican believes that you have to work. “We don’t help you. We don’t do anything. You will rise yourself up if you’re challenged enough.” It doesn’t always work for everybody. Some people die on the vine that way.
What he said was, “The Republican will say, ‘You don’t give them things. You don’t give them handouts. They take the lowest paying job. They learn to innovate and they will grow up.’” They’re right in their perception because maybe some of the best teachers you’ve had in your life if you think back, some that were the vicious and most horrible teachers. You did grow from that. On the other hand, if you said to the Democrat, they would say, “What you need to do is help the individual, give them education, let them grow, develop them and you can raise them up. You can pull them up and they’re right too.” I’m Jewish and Jewish belief is pour your money into your head and no one can ever take it away from you.
Our Jewish upbringing is questioning authority continually. You all talk at the same time at the table because you’re challenging everything. Statistically in the United States, it’s a high number. In the ‘90s, people who are Jewish go onto higher education. Israel has more Nobel Prize winners per population than anywhere in the world. I think it’s 400 some odd and education, learning and growing is important. However, the Jewish belief structure is you help somebody. You help them up. You make sure they get the opportunities and then they have to shine. You’re not going to give them everything. You’re going to make it tough.Our definition of 'getting better' is becoming more and more capitalistic. Click To Tweet
We can give the other cases where people have given them everything and the person doesn’t succeed. It’s a case by case scenario. Our world has to find the balance that meets a vast group of differences of religious orientation, whether it’s Buddhism, Christianity, or Muslim. Look what’s happening in India in terms of the split that’s happening there. I wrestled with this in my head all the time. How do I not change who I am, but design and help to create a means with a path that when and if, because they’re already happening, sea levels rise, when and if AI or social displacement happens in the way and we’ve not seen it before?
When and if resource depletion becomes to a point where there are gaps in our resources or mass extinction, which is happening across. We lose 200 species a day on this planet. Some estimate it’s 50 million that we have. When and if political unrest, which has been happening all over the world at voracious rates. There are normally between 6 to 8 conflicts going on at any time. How do we come out of this? How am I going to help to make this place different by combining capitalism? America is socialistic. I tell people, if you don’t believe in socialism, then don’t take Social Security check. If you believe in socialism, do not take the $1,200 payout if they’re paying you because you were able to fix it by taxes. Your children should not take anything because you have enough money. You should not take the $10,000 handout. That’s socialism. Just because I can, I should. That is being a socialist. Will you use public services? That’s socialism.
We are incorporating into our world. We have socialistic tendencies. We take it where we want. When we don’t like it, we say it’s anti-capitalism. I don’t know the history. I haven’t studied this but somehow, we associate socialism with liberal and it’s not. Socialism is a belief in helping individuals to achieve or do or accomplish something. When I say to people that if you don’t believe in socialism, don’t take your Social Security check. “Why? I’ve earned that.” No, you didn’t. You contributed to a mass pool and you’re getting your money back, be a capitalist. “People have to raise themselves up.” Yes, but our educational system is failing them. We’re telling them to go into skillsets such as programming. I can guarantee you that programming being done will not be used in ten years because we’ve seen it. You could do your own website now. Several years ago, you had to do coding.
Even more basic than that because the person learning coding, if they can learn coding, they’re going to be able to do better in whatever the future brings. The reason they were working in the laboring job, they wanted to do that.
They wanted to paint outside. They wanted to paint a home.
Hopefully, there are some that people don’t want. To me, the important thing about self-reliance is itself. It’s got to be motivated by the person and what they want. Into the day when we have the cash printed or whatever we do to get to the UBI, Universal Basic Income, we say, “I can become a student for the next 50 years or call myself that I’m doing something.” Somehow most people are going to find something to be productive in the world.
That could be TikTok which sometimes I don’t understand.
You made a good point there because it could be something you totally don’t understand.
In our AI company, my partner had created a program that did automatic AI algorithm generation. If you’re familiar, the understanding is you write your code and we would tell something that happened. Our system would write the next piece of code for it and it could generate 400 codes in a month, new algorithms. You don’t even have to have in the future, an AI will make AI. What happens if you’re educated than AI?
Back to my own ZIP code, my neighborhood, in my lifetime, I don’t expect us to get to a point where there isn’t a Siri Lanka or an India. There isn’t some place on earth I can go and help other people and I’m going to be able to remain productive. I would like to think that my children or grandchildren are going to be thinking in that direction too. The normal people are going to do that. That’s funny because I have also quite often said, “Screw normal.”
I was going to say are you using the word normal in the sense of?
Somewhere in human makeup, I go looking at what human nature is. There’s a desire for, can I get enough to survive? Maslow told us that’s the bottom. The next is, can I get enough for my family and help others near me? At that point, we started looking at the social stuff. Certainly, you’ll look good if you go off to Sri Lanka and help people. We’ve got to get self-actualization. I don’t hold out that any more of us are going to than we ever have. We’re going to get to hopefully a world where some of the people that want to help others are going to be able to. I think that gives us opportunities to consider where and in the short run, we can profit as long as capitalism remains.
The massive hierarchy of needs was not created by Maslow. He had written some material. Somebody else interpreted it to teach a course. It is not what he believed at all. He found that he was making money off of it. He started teaching it, but it wasn’t his belief structure. He does not believe in the self-actualization model. In his eyes is that you can be self-actualized even if you are poor.
I’m a Maslow freak. I’ve studied that. I’ve read the original. I’ve never felt like we’re stuck in one of the rungs of the other. The natural progression is to go from a baby crying when he needs to get fed to wanting to help others to ultimately doing the right thing. I’d like to think of myself as person that self-actualized and I do the right thing. Have I done all the other steps in the right order? No.
Are you watching the news?
Don’t watch the news. If there’s one piece of advice I can give you is to stop watching the news. This is not going to reflect what’s going on with people. Get to know people and you gave us that advice at the start. If you will do business with somebody in Sri Lanka, you’re going to have a different viewpoint. Do that. If you’re not at the point where you can do that, do something about getting to that point and then think in terms of where you can help.
Your neighbors are from Sri Lanka, your neighbors are from Germany, your neighbors are from Brazil, you just have to search them out.
You don’t need to get on a plane to help people from Sri Lanka. The philosophy of it is it’s better to give than to receive. If you want more out of life, give more. Those things are very basic to all teachings and religious philosophy. The real joy of life is not about what you can gather together and hoard. It’s what you can share with others. I have to remind myself that all the time because I’m like, “Let me get this. I need this. I want to do that.” I can be selfish.
There’s a poster I had in my room when I was growing up and it said, “The person who’s richest is whose pleasures are the cheapest.” Living in Hong Kong, we had the largest disparity of income in the entire world. You’re the wealthiest of wealthiest. I knew those. My friends had billions and you had the poorest of poor. The person who did some of the accounting for my company one day invited me back to his place. It’s a 100-square feet tiny place. He’s a Filipino, an amazing guy. I’m still friends with him. He said, “No one who I’ve ever offered to come back to this place has ever accepted coming back to this place.” When he asked me, I said, “I’d love to go back.” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “You asked me to come back. I’ll come back to your place.” He said, “I have some wine.” I said, “You invited me to your home. I’m coming to your home.” He was shocked that someone would come back. There are amazing people around the world, but that disparity of income, the challenges we’re facing. We have a lot to overcome.
The stories we heard in putting together the Billions Rising of people who would be so generous in nowhere. The other things I’ve learned from other parts of life that people in the dirt floor hut and you go to visit them. They sit down. They treat you as well as they can. They talk to you. You find their hearts are open. They’re good people. They want to help. It had nothing to do with how much is in their wallet or which title or degree or whatever they happen. You’ll find out more about me at WarrenWhitlock.com. You’ll find out about my wonderful guest, David Goldsmith at DavidGoldsmith.com. Thanks for tuning in. Come back, like, subscribe and all that stuff and tell the whole world that we enjoy having Distributed Conversations.
Thank you very much for having me on the show.
About David Goldsmith
DAVID GOLDSMITH is President and Co-founder of the Goldsmith Organization (New York and Hong Kong), a consulting firm solving big challenges for executive clients worldwide in commerce, nonprofits, governments, militaries, and education; and Co-founder of Buzd, LLC (San Francisco), a firm in which he is a patent holder for technological applications and products related to artificial intelligence, cell phone applications, battery technologies, and consumer products. He is the Founder of the Project Moon Hut Foundation and Project Leader of the global social movement, Project Moon Hut/The Age of Infinite, a five-year effort with NASA (Silicon Valley) to improve life on Earth through the accelerated development of an earth-and-space based ecosystem. In addition to consulting and advising, David presents at events themed for executives on topics ranging from strategy and leadership to innovation, the future (including AI, robotics, machine learning, synthetic engineering, and automation), and space.
David was the Co-founder of ecosystem.AI (San Francisco/Cape Town, SA), a predictive analytics and visualization company finding hidden value in market and organizational complexity relation-ships through identified patterns and spatial trends to reveal how business and organizational ecosystems change over time; Co-founder and CEO of TymSync, Inc. (San Diego), a patented-cellphone technology company; Chief Officer of Strategy for N2 (New York), a company specializing in SuperGrid and IoT technology for use in advanced smart city development for the future; and has been an adviser and stakeholder in several innovative startups from around the world; Chief Strategy Officer and Partner in COMO Global SA (Luxembourg) a software company with expertise in managed back end payment solutions for market networks and fully automated invoicing through to reconciliation for large enterprises.