Saturday, November 19, 2016

#324 / Actual Human Beings

Here's Sam Altman (see the picture above). CNN calls Altman "Silicon Valley's 28-year old whiz kid." Altman is the guy who is now in charge of that economic powerhouse Y-Combinator, the venture capital "accelerator" I mentioned in my posting yesterday

In talking about Y-Combinator, I cited to an article in the October 10, 2016 edition of The New Yorker, titled, "Sam Altman's Manifest Destiny." Discerning readers will have noticed that I was not very much entranced by the whiz kid's ideas for the future. As it turns out, others had a similar reaction. Here's a letter published in the November 21, 2016 edition of The New Yorker, commenting on one of the whiz kid's pronouncements:


Sam Altman, the tech wunderkind profiled by Tad Friend, is quoted as saying, “Democracy only works in a growing economy. Without a return to economic growth, the democratic experiment will fail.” Doomsday prediction aside, democracy is a tool that people use to make decisions together. You can find democracy at your local PTA, at community meetings and block parties—wherever people are free to decide among themselves what happens next. To suggest that democracy relies on economic growth to exist is to forget that social change is created not by big companies backed by venture capitalists but by actual human beings.

Andrew Seeder
Somerville, Mass.

Thank you, Andrew Seeder! My sentiments exactly. 

Whiz kid versus democracy?

I'm with democracy!

I'm with "actual human beings!"

Image Credit:


  1. This raises definitional questions. I know an extraordinarily kind, generous, and hardworking young man who improves the lives of everyone he meets. He has Down syndrome, and is categorized as disabled.

    I am SO glad that he is not a whiz kid.

  2. #haiku

    There may be a link
    between trickle-down theory
    and all these whiz kids


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