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  • 1. INVESTING IN THE FUTURE: Riva-Melissa Tez sayhellotoriva@gmail.com Turning Theory Into (Business) Practice
  • 2. 25 years of My Life in 6 Boxes: Crazy Parents Get Expelled Study Oxford, open Store Build Humanist Website at 14 Sell store, go to Germany to research CS, build app, create Singularity Group In car accident, decide to move to SF to push emerging tech
  • 3. Where are the philosopher-kings of this world? “There will be no end to the trouble of states, or humanity itself, until philosophers become kings in this world, or until those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers.”
  • 4. Identifying the Grand Problem Short-sighted focus risks killing us.
  • 5. Identifying the Challenges 1. The Research Pipeline 2. Entrepreneurial Prioritization 3. Societal Values
  • 6. The Research Pipeline ● Short-sighted focus on ‘churning out’papers. ● Grant cycles are crushing, motivating low risk, low reward bets. ● Artificially manufactured‘ground- breaking’results.
  • 7. The Research Pipeline
  • 8. Entrepreneurial Prioritization $17 Billion $2 Billion $10 Billion $180 Million $16 Billion $1 Billion $5 Billion $?
  • 9. Why is tackling X-Risks impossible?
  • 10. Entrepreneurial Prioritization x Aging Ephemeral Global Tyranny Genocide Fatal Car Crash Destruction of Cultural Heritage Global Dark Age Thinning of Ozone Layer Recession in One Country Car is StolenLoss of One Hair Congestion from One Extra Vehicle Global Warming by 0.01°C One Species of Beetle Lost One Original Picasso Destroyed Severity Scope Imperceptibl e Endurable Crushing (Hellish) Personal Local Global Trans-Generational Pan-Generational (Cosmic) Start-Ups No Way
  • 11. •Need to think of most effective way of bringing change •Disrupt process and models first - make it easier for all •Biomedical/clinical strategies to solve aging Entrepreneurial Prioritization
  • 12. Entrepreneurial Prioritization Venture Capitalist Strategy ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
  • 13. The total disregard for long-term risk analysis reduces much of what Silicon Valley creates to being totally pointless, in terms of the benefit to man now and in the future. The problem with us constantly thinking in the short- term, with short-term rewards and incentives, is that we line up future generations to be burdened with our shortcomings and total disregard for their existence. - The Future Doesn’t Care About Your Start-Up, July 2014
  • 14. Challenges Highlighted in Publication • Academic Challenge: Tyranny of publishing papers • Priorities Challenge: Minimum Viable Consumer Tech vs Existential Risk Mitigation • Value Challenge: Not enough social psychology applied to norms and values around goals • Venture Capital Challenge: Misaligned LP interest and interest of humanity • People who do care all work for non-profits: no business development in these research groups
  • 15. Always looking for the next exit... Investors to blame?
  • 16. Really bold innovation doesn’t have an exit.
  • 17. Current Model RISK AVERSION Smaller amounts of $ in higher quantity of companies. Y-Combinator 500 Start-ups Less $ buys you code
  • 18. Causing more harm than good •Defining technological progress •Diluting VC as an asset class
  • 19. “I tend to think of the technium like a child of humanity. Our job will be to train the technium, to imbue it with certain principles because, at a certain level and at a certain age, it will basically become much more autonomous than it is now. It will leave us like a teenager who goes on to live alone: although he or she will continue to interact with us and will always be part of us, we have to let it go. “We can’t raise a successful human by remaining in complete control as parents. We have to train our children well — bury within them a strong conscience with deep values that can guide them to do the right thing in situations we had not foreseen or even imagined. We need to do the same with the technium and our technologies. In the same sense we need to embed our values into the technological superorganism so that these heuristics become guiding factors. As more autonomy is given and won by the technium, it will then be able to do the right thing.” Kevin Kelly, Edge.
  • 20. Speaking tour highlighing VC issues
  • 21. I go and work in Venture Capital………
  • 22. Problems with Venture Capital •Very little ‘creative destruction’within industry- not professional risk-takers, but professional fundraisers • Kauffman Foundation found the bigger funds (250 million+) are less likely to return investor capita yet we congratulate big funds • Meaning VCs support themselves on income from management fees - misaligned interest with LPs •LPs get a terrible deal! Continuous narrative fallacies (but then they don’t really care either…) •LPs don’t get anywhere near the due diligence with VCs that VCs do with their portfolio companies • Not particularly valuable for LPs as an asset class - high risk -and the money is predominantly not going into high-risk endeavors •Predominantly an industry run by people who don’t care about long term benefits - bit like academia - incremental rewards on repetitions of the past • Even for the ones who do, interpersonal relationships within VC funds reminiscent of playgrounds full of manipulation and nepotism.
  • 23. Societal Values The field of future thought has a PR problem.
  • 24. Societal Values The information gap: What % of the general public knows that ageing could be stopped? The values gap: What % of the general public thinks that ageing should be stopped?
  • 25. HOW NOT TO DO IT
  • 26. Time is the only true currency you have.
  • 27. Where are the philosophers who want to achieve the change in the world they envision? Probably still stuck at the symposium…
  • 28. Well they…..Talk about these issues Attend conferences about these issues Debate on Less Wrong about these issues Argue over the semantics of these issues
  • 29. We have a responsibility to facilitate our shared goals through practical, viable pathways for their realisation.
  • 30. As of yet no unified educational platform.
  • 31. We collectively think as groups how to better ourselves and how to try to influence the people around us. Is this really the mosteffective way of achieving our goals?
  • 32. We need more spaces in which people can come together to figure out the steps that need to be taken in order to solve the big problems.
  • 33. We shouldn’t be trying to achieve our goals based on non-profits and philanthropy
  • 34. Financial markets work because, despite hiccups, money flows effectively toward profitable firms. Philanthropy is hugely inefficient because there is no analogous market for impact. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2013
  • 35. Need to break down our goals into smaller chunks and create for-profit solutions.* A lot of the jobs that Effective Altruists could be in (say through 80k hours) simply haven’t been created yet. * not claiming this is easy
  • 36. Great!! Now it’s a copiable model!!
  • 37. Reinvest our profits… Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention of generating a measurable, beneficial social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.
  • 38. Impact investing is still young. A 2009 report from research firm Monitor Group estimated that the impact investing industry could grow from around US$50 billion in assets to US$500 billion in assets within the subsequent decade.
  • 39. Impact investors still expect less than a market rate of return. Few solutions that meet the fundamental needs of the poor will get you your money back. Can’t solve big problems in places where poor governance and huge market failures are the rule. e.g. Financing a mosquito net factory to combat malaria, when the issue is distribution, not supply. That’s why we need education, evaluation and well-considered company formations.
  • 40. We need to innovate innovation-financing
  • 41. Crowd-funding is not the only financial innovation.
  • 42. What types of financial innovation models have we not thought of yet? QUESTION THAT PLAGUES ME!!!
  • 43. Too many of us framing the questions and not finding the answers
  • 44. We need an educational incubator aimed at the creation of companies. We need to educate and mentor entrepreneurs, whilst studying the meta-level issues of future innovation such as innovation financing itself, as well as audience/consumer psychology.
  • 45. • Impact Investments - How can we support and spread the change we want to see? • Existential Risk Mitigation - Educate and innovate around global threats (breaking issues down into preventative measures). • Philosophy of Technology - Producing a profitable theory of technology. • Medical Moonshots - Encouraging radical approaches to medicine. • Effective Altruism - Inspiring effective, ethical business methodology. • Consumer Psychology - How can we ensure audience acceptance? • Financial Innovation - Can we find new economic models to promote bold ideas? • Wellbeing - Merging philosophy and neuroscience. • Reinventing Research - Models to incentivize bold science. • Rationality - How biases affect decision-making. • Company Formation - How to build and sustain a successful team. Things to be learnt
  • 46. Example of profitable plan that mitigates X-risk- it’s not impossible, just need to change the way we think
  • 47. Can use Leverage’s Strategic Project Checklist/Business Model Canvas to ensure successful pathways for our companies-- but at the moment what should we be applying this checklist to? There are higher issues. As a movement, we shouldn’t be promoting just creating start- ups and donating profits. Let’s combine profits and values. And if we can’t, LET’S FIX THAT FIRST
  • 48. If we want to spread memes…. we need to translate ideas into businesses (..sorry)
  • 49. Let’s build the rockets to take us to the future.
  • 50. What are the most valuable models to be applied to a blank slate tech scene? e.g., Shared Housing, Incentivised Competition What lessons can be learned from the Valley? QUESTION
  • 51. Thanks for listening. Riva-Melissa Tez sayhellotoriva@gmail.com