Lately I find myself wondering whether Bill Gates is very smart, or whether he is stuck at the cognitive capacity of the average angry American “I won’t live in a pod oh and by the way it’s a hoax anyway” male. Take a look at this interview:
We need more than technology, because we have to have the political will. We’re asking society to stop using stuff that, other than for climate things, would last longer. That coal plant, and those jobs, and that natural gas plant, and that way of making cement. We’re asking society to walk away from those. Of course, the more you walk away from, say, natural gas, the cheaper it’ll be. It’ll just be sitting there just as cheap as can be because you’re trying to drive demand to zero. Anyone who says that we will tell people to stop eating meat, or stop wanting to have a nice house, and we’ll just basically change human desires, I think that that’s too difficult. I mean, you can make a case for it. But I don’t think it’s realistic for that to play an absolutely central role. I mean, after all, if the rich countries completely disappeared, that’s only less than a third of emissions, if we all completely just weren’t in the picture at all.
The world’s former richest man is describing here that it’s basically pointless to try to convince people to transition to a sustainable lifestyle, before proclaiming that even if we all disappeared the problem wouldn’t be solved.
If Bill Gates is as smart as I think he is, he already realizes you’ll need to get people to stop eating meat for other reasons: You need some way of feeding 8 billion people and you need to bring a halt to deforestation.
Everytime I look at this guy, it feels like I’m looking at a kind of quantum superposition, where he’s either a naive optimist who is completely in over his head, or he is this creep who foreshadows that we’re going to have bioterrorism incidents that kill tens of millions and central in orchestrating a kind of global plan B, depending on which branch of reality you want to live in.
The thing with Bill Gates is that I’m just having a hard time believing he’s a delusional optimistic moron, of the “technology will solve it” variety. Consider another interview from 2015, where he pointed out that 2 degree is basically out of the picture by now.
The guy is a massive enthusiast of Vavlac Smil’s work. Everything Smil writes about is about human overpopulation, our impact on the biosphere and how energy transition will take a very long time, how historically it took us more than fifty years. So Mr. Gates will be smart enough to realize that even if this miracle technology people are hoping for would be discovered, scaling it up to the level you need would still take decades.
So why is he continuing to pretend that he can just throw billions at “innovation” and someone will show up eventually who will figure out how to solve the problem for us? If you wonder what I’m really reading in that interview, it’s this:
There are a lot of people out there who thought this whole crisis could be solved by convincing the public of some voluntary behavioral changes and I was really hopeful about that myself initially, but by now it’s abundantly clear that’s just not how human beings operate and in hindsight it was childishly naive. In the end it was always going to come down to this: A bunch of people have to go.
Maybe I’m too cynical. Maybe in Bill Gates’ head we’re just going to spray some aerosols in the atmosphere to block the sun, buy ourselves a couple more years, build some nuclear power plants, pray that Mother Nature doesn’t feel like covering us in our own radioactive waste, by 2065 we’ll all have genetically enhanced 130IQs, we’ll start using our energy surplus to sequester emissions and we’ll all live happily ever after.
Maybe that’s what Mr. Gates envisions. Or perhaps they’ve been working on Disease X for a while now, with some science-juice to make sure that after a couple of months your immune systems have no proper way of dealing with the novel variants that emerge simultaneously and start crippling people in droves, until eventually secondary pathogens manage to start spreading through the population, aided by global immune system dysfunction.
Maybe the better question to ask is: What the hell did Bill Gates see during those psychedelic trips?
Here’s a question I would like to ask Bill Gates: Imagine this rejuvenation technology stuff works out and you’re still a young man by 2050, do you think you will still need us useless eaters, us cubicle-dwelling nobodies? Isn’t AI going to make most of us obsolete, aren’t most of us stuck in dead-end bullshit jobs anyway? Hey Bill, do you think “social media specialist” is really a real job, rather than an excuse to have a 20 year old blonde bimbo in the office?
If you’re reading this, then just between the two of us Bill, I know what you want. You wish your buddy Epstein was still around, so you could be sitting in a private jet, receiving back rubs from a 17 year old skinny blonde. Well, do you need tens of millions of senile people in retirement homes who have mashed potatoes spoon-fed to them by barely literate third world migrants for that? You realize most of us have exactly nothing to offer that improves your own quality of life in any substantial way, right Bill?
Stop pretending for a moment you’re a selfless saint Bill, your ex-wife spilled the beans, we know you’re a pretty unremarkable old man. Stop pretending for a moment some Deus Ex Machina is right around the corner Bill. Just for a minute, I know it hurts to think about it, but entertain me for a minute: What are you going to do Bill?
Now back to the rest of you, perhaps the proper question is: What are these guys getting injected? Are they getting some saline or are they happy to go down with the rest of us, leaving the world to a handful of uncontacted tribes?
Or maybe it’s worse than I can deal with: Maybe there is no plan B. Maybe this guy is really a delusional optimist who thinks he’ll figure out some technofix, even as the positive feedback loops now begin to kick in and the Siberian permafrost begins releasing its own methane and nitrous oxide.
Maybe by 2038, as the last wild gorilla is eaten in the remnants of the Congo jungle by a hungry militia, we will have a now senile Bill Gates in another interview, explaining that nobody could have anticipated how sensitive global food production is to the effects of 2 degree of global warming, or how hard it would be to change pronatal African cultural norms, but that by 2052 we will have a first working prototype of some new enhanced photosynthesis technology that will really make a big impact, pinky promise. Nobody could have anticipated that people who don’t mind cutting off their daughter’s clitoris don’t spend a lot of time laying awake at night about a Malthusian catastrophe that will hit when they’re old!
Maybe these billionaires are the soft humanitarians that Ted Kaczynski warned us about. Maybe those “conspiracy theorists” are simply psychologically projecting their own Jungian shadow onto the “global elite”. Maybe you’re the kind of guy who would release a bioweapon if you had a couple of billion bucks you don’t know what to do with. I know I am.