Authors@Google: Jeremy Rifkin

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 28.01.2010

>> Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to another Authors at Google event.
We are pleased today to welcome Mr. Jeremy Rifkin, a well-known economist and activist.
He's probably best known for his work, Where's the Foundation on Economic Trends?
As well as his published works, which include The End of Work and The Hydrogen Economy.
And both topics are very relevant to the work we do here at Google.
Time magazine describes Jeremy as, "The most hated man in science."
But we love you, it's okay. Just ignore them. Today, he'll be speaking to us on his latest
book, The Empathic Civilization. The book outlines the essential conflict between
empathy and entropy -- between thinking and doing.
Jeremy suggests that this arises from the very way our consciousness is structured.
And for those who have questions later, please use the mic for the benefit of those on YouTube.
And with that, my friends, please welcome Jeremy Rifkin.
>> [Applause]
Jeremy: [pause] Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for coming.
Let me start off on a somber note, which I hope might become a liberating reflection.
I believe we may be at a seminal turning point in the history of our species on this planet.
Sounds melodramatic -- I won't be here to see it, but all of you young people in this
room may be a decisive generation. Species come and go.
We had two events in the last 18 months which signaled the end game that a great industrial
age propelled by fossil fuels that gave us one of the great, short-lived civilizations
in history. July 2008 -- you recall oil hit $147 a barrel
on world markets. Prices soared, inflation roared, basic items
became prohibitively expensive around the world from groceries to gasoline.
There were food riots in 30 countries. Purchasing power plummeted at $147 a barrel
all over the world. The entire economic engine of the Industrial
Revolution turned off at 147 a barrel. That was the economic meltdown. That was the
earthquake. A collapse of the financial markets sixty
days later, that was the aftershock. G-20, G-8, G-2 -- our world leaders have not
yet come to grips with what is really happening to the global economy.
Our fossil fuel energies are sunsetting. Their S-curve is exhausted.
And the entire infrastructure of this civilization is embedded in the carbon deposits of the
Jurassic Age. Our agricultural food is grown in petrochemical
fertilizers and pesticides. Almost all of our pharmaceutical products
are still fossil-fuel-based. Most of our clothes.
The entire construction infrastructure of civilization is fossil-fuel-based.
Our power transport, our heat, our light, our logistics, our supply chain.
What we are seeing is the sunsetting of these energies and the life support of the infrastructure
built from them. That's what we haven't yet come to grips with.
The reason this has happened -- it's what I call 'peak globalization' -- 147 a barrel
is something called 'peak oil per capita' not to be confused with peak oil production.
They're two different things. Peak oil per capita actually occurred over
30 years ago in 1979, at the height of the Second Industrial Revolution.
In that year, had we distributed all the oil reserves we knew we had to everyone living
on the planet at that time, fairly and equitably, that would be the most oil each person could
have. We found more oil since then, but population
grows quicker. So if we distributed all the oil reserves
we know we have now today to 6.8 billion people, there's less to go around per person.
So you see where I'm heading. When China and India made their bid to bring
one-third of the human race into the Industrial Revolution propelled by and embedded into
fossil fuels, the demand pressure was enormous -- prices went up, inflation soared, and
the entire economic engine of the Industrial Age actually shorted out at 147 a barrel.
Now, you notice the economy is just slightly starting to move again around the world.
That's because we had depleted inventories. We're replenishing them. And what's happening?
Oil is shooting up to $80 a barrel again. So what I say to my colleagues is, "Show me
how we get through that wall." Every time we try to regroup the global economy,
based on these sunsetting energies, with a huge amount of the developing world coming
into the game, prices will go up, inflation will roar, purchasing power will plummet at
about 147 a barrel, we'll keep hitting the wall.
That's peak globalization. We now know the outer limits of the Industrial
Revolution. We will look back at this moment as decisive.
Fast forward, December 2009, Copenhagen. Our world leaders come together to try to
address the entropy bill for the Industrial Age -- the spent CO2, the exhausted energy.
The U.N. Climate Panel -- our scientists tell us that we may see a 3-degree rise in temperature
on this planet -- Celsius -- in this century because of the burning of carbon deposits
over the last 200 years. It's probably going to go much higher. That's
now optimistic. But to give you an idea of what '3-degree
rise' means. A 3-degree rise in temperature in this century,
your century, and your children, takes us back to the temperature on Earth 3 million
years ago in the Pliascene. Different flora, different fauna, different
hydrological cycles. And it's really all about the water.
This is something folks really don't hear about.
For every one degree centigrade that the temperature on the earth rises, the atmosphere can absorb
and does absorb 7 percent more precipitation -- takes it up from the ground.
That's why you're seeing more violent weather, more floods, longer periods of droughts, wildfires.
Our ecosystems and our biomes have developed over millions of years.
They cannot adjust to this kind of change this rapidly.
I advise the European Union. We went to Copenhagen, and we were hoping
to talk the world into mitigating CO2 at 450 parts per million by mid-century.
Nobody wanted to play the game. But if we go to 450 parts per million, we
were hoping we'd only go up two degrees. Devastating, but maybe we would survive.
Then James Hansen, the chief climatologist for the United States Government threw us
a curve in Brussels. He's the head of the NASA Goddard Space Institute.
Their studies show that, if we mitigate at 450 parts per million carbon by mid-century
-- your century -- we go up six degrees Celsius according to the geological record.
And the end of human civilization as we've come to know it.
We are asleep. The feedback loops are coming. We're really in denial.
Our world leaders came together in Copenhagen. They could not cut a deal. It broke down in
acrimony. The entire talks collapsed.
So here's my question for all of you in Google: Why is it that our world leaders were simply
unable to anticipate or respond to the meltdown of the Industrial Revolution at 147 a barrel?
Still no analysis. Why was it that our world leaders were unable
to cut a deal on carbon reduction and methane and nitrous oxide reduction at Copenhagen
to address climate change even though we know that this is imperiling our planet and threatening
our own species -- certainly the biggest threat we've ever faced?
The fault lies, not with just the inability of government and business leaders to come
up with new regulating mechanisms for the global economy.
The fault lies deeper than just the inability to come up with a binding, carbon-reduction
target that everyone could agree to. The fault lies with this: Our government and
business leaders are relying on 18th-century ideas about human nature and the human journey
that were born at the beginning of the marketed, nation-state era and spawned by the philosophers
in the Enlightenment. Those ideas are completely ill-suited for
the global economy and biosphere world -- your world of the 21st century.
For 1500 years, in western civilization, the church worldview about human nature dominated.
And the church said, "Little babies are born depraved.
Born in sin. Born in evil. And if we want salvation, we need to wait
to the next world with salvation in Christ." At the dawn of the market era and the nation-state
governance, the philosophers of Enlightenment took that worldview on, and they came up with
a new set of ideas about human nature. And those new ideas were accompanied by new
institutions -- market institutions, nation-state governance, new education institutions that
comported with these new ideas. What were they?
John Locke, the political philosopher of the Enlightenment said, "Babies are born tabular
rasa -- blank slate --" except he gave a little opening, "There is a predisposition in human
nature to acquire property." Which is kind of funny, he kind of let that
one. "And if we acquire property, we become wealthy,
and that's the road to happiness." Adam Smith, the great, Scottish economist of the Enlightenment
said, "Little babies are born as rational, detached, autonomous agents.
And as we grow up, we pursue our inner drive, which is our material, self-interest in the
market." The 19th century, post-Enlightenment philosophers
-- Jeremy Benton. He said, "Little babies are born, and they
seek pleasure over pain, and their core nature is utilitarian."
The great naturalist, Charles Darwin, later in the 19th century said, "Every organism,
every species, seeks to perpetuate themselves and reproduce their survivor."
And then, of course, at the end of the 19th century, Sigmund Freud suggested that, "Little
babies are born with an insatiable, erotic, sexual desire, and they need to extinguish
their libido -- that's the core drive." Okay, now. I don't know if there are any parents
in this room. Do we have any parents in this room?
Please, is this what human nature is about? That little baby -- is that little baby born
depraved and in sin? Is that little baby a rational, calculating,
detached, autonomous agent, pursuing their own material, utilitarian self-interest in
a competitive struggle to survive? If that's who we really are -- that is our
core nature -- we're likely doomed. I don't see any scenario on the horizon in
which we can bring together 6.8 billion human beings to create a seamless, integrated, sustainable,
and just global economy and address climate change and we heal the biosphere of the earth,
do you? And remember, ideas have consequences.
Again, those ideas about human nature comported with and accompanied the institutions that
justified them. Look at our schooling system, our parenting
styles, our business models. They reflect the idea that we are aggressive,
utilitarian, self-interested, materialistic, and pleasure-seeking.
In the last ten years, below the radar screen, in evolutionary biology, neurocognitive science,
child development, and other related fields, our researchers are making breathtaking breakthroughs
that are challenging some of the age-old assumptions about human nature.
Let me take you back to the early 1990s. Sleepy little laboratory in Parma, Italy.
There's a macaque monkey in the laboratory, and it got a little MRI brain scan on the
monkey. And they're watching the monkey open up a
nut and seeing which neurons light up with the brain scan.
By sheer serendipity -- and these are how these things happen -- a human trainer walks
into the lab right after this experiment within minutes and picks up a similar nut and tries
to open it. The macaque is gazing straight at the trainer,
not moving. And when they look at the scanning machine
on the brain of the macaque, the same exact neurons are lighting up when he was observing
someone else open the nut as when he was opening up the nut himself.
They were flabbergasted. They had no idea what this was.
They started to put brain scanners on other primates, and then, humans.
Over and over again, they discovered something interesting in the neural circuits of some
primates and all humans. And that is, when a person experienced a certain
feeling -- disgust, rejection, pleasure, joy, frustration, anger -- certain neurons would
light up. If they then observed someone else experiencing
those same feelings, the observer's same neurons would light up exactly as if they were feeling
that other person as if it were themselves. Now, we know this from common sense experience.
If someone punctures themself and bleeds, you have the same wince as what's going on
to them. When you see a little spider going up on someone's
arm, you feel a creepy feeling in your biology. It's what we call, "empathic distress."
What we are finding is that all animals that nurse their young are social, and they have
some kind of empathic distress, not just mere neurons -- that's what we're discovering now,
the empathy neurons -- but a whole circuitry that allows them to actually play and groom
and nurse -- social animals. Human beings with the big neocortex were ultimately
social. The worst thing you could do to a human? Ostracize
them. That little baby comes out of the womb, and
immediately seeking some engagement, some reciprocity, intimacy, affection, a sense
of belonging. We discovered homo empathicus. Empathy is
very complicated. When little babies are in a nursery and one
baby cries, the other babies will cry. That's empathic distress.
But they don't know why they're crying. Around two-and-a-half years of age, the baby
can identify themselves in the mirror and say, "Oh, that's me.
That's you." Self-reflection and selfhood go hand in hand with empathy.
The more I have a sense of individuality, the more I can empathize with another individual.
At around seven or eight, we learn about birth and death.
Then we know we have one and only life -- we're fragile, we're vulnerable, we have
frailties, and we understand that our life is unrepeatable.
This existential sense of ourselves that we develop, that we have one and only history
-- we live and die -- allows us to then feel that same thing in another person.
Think about when you empathize with another human or another animal.
It's that feeling of death and life altogether. You feel their fragility, their frailties,
their vulnerability, the one and only history, the one and only life.
And you feel their struggle to flourish and be, because it's extremely hard being alive
-- whether you're a human being or fox in the wood or an ant on the ground -- it is
tough being alive. Empathy is the ability to actually feel another's
struggle. Their desire to flourish and be and then show
compassion and solidarity. The most alive moments in the world are when
we feel this feeling of empathy, because we transcend ourselves, and we live in that I
zone -- kind of 'middle zone' there. By the way, empathy is the opposite of paradise
and utopia. There's no empathy in heaven.
Don't look for it; it's not there. There's no empathy in utopias, because there's
no mortality. Empathy is the opposite, because it is a recognition
of life and death, our one and only journey. And that's why we feel solidarity, and we
feel such an expression of transcendance with our fellow human beings.
The awe of life is right involved with that empathic sensibility.
So here's the question: If we are wired for empathic distress, can we imagine a scenario
in which we could extend that central nervous system -- folks here in Google -- to the entire
human race? All of our fellow creatures in the biosphere
in which we live. Can you imagine that?
So now you're saying, "Oh, my God, I just gave up my lunch for this.
This guy's over the end. We can't even pass health care reform legislation.
We just had a Supreme Court that said, "You can buy any election you want in this country."
And this guy's up there talking about biosphere consciousness, the human family coming together."
Well, this is the appropriate place -- Google. Consciousness changes over history.
The way our brains are wired this afternoon -- today, in the 21st century -- completely
different than a medieval serf. And their brain completely different in its
wiring than an hunter/gatherer 30,000 B.C. So the question is, What is the mechanism
upon which consciousness changes over history and empathy evolves, if it does?
Because if we can find a mechanism, perhaps we could see how we could take a leap and
begin to think homo empathicus, prepare an empathic civilization, create biosphere awareness.
Now, I want everyone in Google that's here in this room to concentrate with me from here
on, because you have a special mission, I think.
The great changes in consciousness in history -- they occur when two things happen.
First, we change the way we organize the energy of the earth.
And that's happened frequently through history. Second, we change the way we communicate to
organize these new energy revolutions. It's when communication revolutions come together
with energy revolutions -- when they converge -- those are the pivotal points in history.
They change human consciousness. They expand the empathic horizons, even with
all the genocidal blowbacks, it keeps moving forward.
I'll give you an example of energy/communication convergence.
You read about the Sumerians at the university in your cultural anthropology course?
The Sumerians, ancient Mesopotamia, which was Iraq.
They were the first to harness the sun's energy in photosynthesis in cereal plants that stored
grain -- barley and wheat was stored sun's energy.
Complicated, because before that time, people lived in little villages, rain fed, garden
agriculture. All of a sudden, they had to indenture thousands
of men to build these long, irrigation canals. Think of the logistics here.
They had to create craft skills to manufacture -- to make the dikes.
They had to create the royal granaries, the royal roads, and distribution systems.
They had to create urban life. It required a communication revolution, Google,
to organize it. And they created writing -- cuniform.
Everywhere we see these great, hydraulic, agricultural civilizations -- the Middle East,
the Indus Valley in India, China, Mexico, fascinating.
Independently, humans figure out writing to organize hydraulic, agricultural life.
Let's go all the way up to the 19th century. First Industrial Revolution -- another convergence
of communication and energy -- the print technology revolution was upgraded with steam power.
With steam power, liner type and rotary, we could mass produce print quick and cheap.
At that same time -- between 1830 and 1880 -- we introduced public schools and mass
literacy in Europe and America. And the first generation of print-literate
communication generation, then, was able to manage the First Industrial Revolution --
coal, steam, and rail. We could not have organized coal, steam, and
rail with codex. That communication was too parochial.
20th century -- another convergence of communication and energy.
Telegraph and telephone, and cinema, radio, later television, became the communication
vehicle to manage oil, the internal combustion engine, the suburban rollout, the Second Industrial
Revolution. And that Second Industrial Revolution peaked
in July 2008 at 147 a barrel. Those energies are sunsetting.
The infrastructure on which they're embedded, life-support.
When communication/energy revolutions come together, the communication not only manages
the new energy, it changes consciousness. Every forager, hunter society in history had
oral communication. Their consciousness was mythlogical.
Every single one had mythlogical consciousnesses -- no exception.
When we go to the great, hydraulic, agricultural civilizations, the new communication to organize
agriculture was writing -- script. Every single one of them created some form
of theological consciousness. The great religions formed at that time in
the Middle East. The Abrahamic religions -- the people of the
book -- Judaism, Christianity, Islam. In the East, Buddhism, Confucist philosophy,
all based on script -- theological consciousness. 19th century, convergence of communication/energy
-- print communication gave rise to ideological consciousness.
People thought ideologically in the 19th century. 20th century, Second Industrial Revolution,
first-generation electricity communication ushered in psychological consciousness.
We think therapeutically in this room. Grandma didn't.
My grandma from a hundred years ago -- if my grandma were at Thanksgiving dinner, and
all of a sudden, she throws the dish down on the floor, I'd come up to Grandma and say,
"Grandma, now wait a minute, that was a passive/ aggressive act.
We've got some transference and some projection problems here.
Let's go back. Something triggered from your childhood.
Let's go deep into your psyche, and let's understand what happened here.
Grandma doesn't have a clue. She's ideological. She may be theological. Maybe even mythlogical.
She's not therapeutic, all right? Consciousness changes over history.
And when consciousness changes, empathy extends itself.
Now, I want you to think 'Google'. The real Google -- your real mission in the
21st century. The communication revolutions allow us to
extend the central nervous system so we can bring more diverse people together across
time and space. So if you are in a forager/hunter society
with oral communication, and mythlogical thinking, your empathy doesn't extend beyond shouting
distance -- your blood kin, your relatives -- because that's who you've got.
Oral communication, forage and hunting, small spatial/temporal limits.
When we go to the great, hydraulic, agricultural civilizations, script allows us to extend
the central nervous system, annihilate a little bit of time and space.
Empathy extends beyond blood ties to associational ties, religious affiliations.
Jews start to see other Jews as extended family and extend their empathy from blood ties to
religious ties. Muslims empathize with Muslims. Christians
with Christians. When we get to the 19th century, print communication
-- with coal, steam, and rail -- extends the central nervous system and again annihilates
time and space, right? People began to empathize around national
boundaries. That's the extension of print communication.
Americans start to see Americans as the extended families and empathize with each other.
The French with the French, the Japanese with the Japanese.
Now, we are on the cusp of a global economy and a biosphere era.
Can we extend the boundaries of empathy? It started with blood ties in local regions
-- to religious affiliations, to national boundaries, and now, to the human species
in the biosphere? Hold that aside.
There's a paradox in history. It's a deep paradox in the empathic civilization.
In this book, I write about this sub-theme. And it has never been discussed before, but
it's something we really need to have a conversation about.
There's a deep paradox in human history. It's the empathy/entropy paradox.
And that is, as we create more complex energy-consuming civilizations and bring them together with
more sophisticated communication so we can extend the central nervous system -- bring
more people together -- heighten our sensibilities and our empathy, become more cosmopolitan,
those same more-complex, energy-consuming civilizations increase the entropy bill.
More energy, more depletion of resources, a bigger footprint.
Today, we live in the most interconnected, interdependent civilization in the world.
We're connecting the central nervous system of the entire human race.
And the same technologies that we are using right now are consuming vast amounts of the
earth's energy, taking us to the abyss of climate change and the potential extinction
of our species. Bitter sweet. Because we can almost smell the summit, with
all the blowbacks. I mean, the zenophobism and the wars and the
terrible things going on. We can actually smell the summit where we
begin to think as a human species. Think Haiti -- within an hour on Twitter and
on YouTube and Google and everywhere. Within an hour, the whole human race was responding
with an empathic embrace. If the Enlightenment philosophers are right,
and we are detached, calculating, rational, autonomous agents who pursue our own pleasure
and libido and self-interest, you can't account for the response in Haiti.
The response was, "Now, we have the technology, thanks to Google -- to connect the entire
human race at the speed of light." An empathic embrace.
The problem is, we're also smelling our potential extinction.
We may get almost to the summit, and then that's it.
We may lose ourselves. I really believe that's possible within less
than three generations. How do you break the empathy/entropy paradox?
This is where you come in. But I'm going to say, You don't even know
where you come in yet. You have a lot of smart, young people here.
But here's where you come in. We are on the cusp of a Third Industrial Revolution
-- a new convergence of communication and energy that could get us to distributed consciousness,
thinking as homo empathicus and creating an empathic civilization.
We had a very powerful ICT Revolution in the last 15 years -- the personal computer and
the Internet. Started with Microsoft; now, we're at Google.
We had this very powerful revolution. This is second-generation electricity communication.
First-generation was centralized -- top down. This new communication revolution is distributed,
flat, and open -- biosharing, YouTube, Wikipedia, Linux, Google.
This distributed communication revolution is just now beginning to converge with the
new energy revolution -- distributed energy. When distributed communication manages distributed
energy, we may be on the point of moving to distributed consciousness -- biosphere awareness,
thinking as homo empathicus. What is 'distributed energy'?
Let's compare it with elite energies. Elite energies we know about.
Coal, oil, gas, uranium -- they're elite. They're elite, because if you go home today,
you're not going to find them in your backyard. Pretty good chance you won't find them there.
They're only found in certain pockets of the world.
They require huge, military investments to secure them.
Huge, geopolitical investments to manage them. Massive capital to organize them.
Be clear, fossil fuels and uranium have given us the most centralized, complex civilization
in history. But those energies are sunsetting, and the
infrastructure we've embedded them in are on life-support.
What are 'distributed energies'? Go home tonight, all the energy you need is
distributed across your backyard. The sun shines all over the world every day.
The wind blows across this planet every day. Wherever we tread on the ground, there's a
hot, thermal core of heat under this earth for energy.
Wherever there's water, we have small hydro for electricity.
Wherever there's municipal waste, it can be regenerated back to energy.
In the rural areas, we have agriculture and forestry waste.
On the oceans, where most of the urban population is, those tides are coming in and out every
single day. I've been privileged to work with the European
Union for the last ten years and was honored to develop the long-term Third Industrial
Revolution Game Plan for the E.U. It was endorsed by the Parliament in 2007.
We're rolling it across 27 member states from the Irish seat to Russia now.
I'd like to lay this out for you here at Google, because I think there's that pivotal role
that you have yet to play, but will play here, which will transform your company into something
quite different. It'll take where you are -- take you to something
that's going to create a legacy for the human race.
Let me lay out this four-pillar Third Industrial Revolution.
Let me preface this by saying, the E.U. is the lead economy in the world today.
We think about G-2 -- America and China. A wake up call.
The GDP of the 27 member states of the E.U -- which is a political union -- exceeds
the GDP of the 50 states of the United States of America.
And if you put the GDP of the U.S. and China together, it's almost matched by the E.U.
Here's the laboratory. Four-pillar infrastructure, Third Industrial
Revolution to organize distributed communication, to manage distributed energy, to create distributed
consciousness. First pillar, 20 percent renewable energy
by 2020 mandated. That's a third of the electricity in Europe.
Done deal. Pillar two -- buildings -- buildings, buildings,
buildings. Buildings are the No. 1 cause of climate change.
They are responsible for a third of the CO2. The No. 2 cause of climate change -- which
we never talk about -- is beef production and consumption.
Nobody wants to talk about that, even Al Gore. Not one leader of 192 countries made a single
statement about the No. 2 cause of climate change.
How serious are we about our own extinction? No. 3 is worldwide transport.
So No. 1 pillar of this infrastructure, renewable energy -- mandated.
Two, buildings. We imagine every single existing building
across the E.U -- every home, office, factory, shopping mall, technology park that exist
today -- converted to a partial power plant in the next 25 to 30 years.
So, the building collects all the distributed energy around the neighborhood -- the sun
off the roof, the wind on the walls, the heat under the ground, the garbage, etc.
Pillar three, storage. Because in California, as in elsewhere, the sun isn't always shining.
The wind isn't always blowing. These are intermittent energies.
So when they are -- when the sun is out, and the wind is blowing -- you got to find a way
to store some of that electricity. So the E.U. is committed to pillar three
-- an 8 billion Euro rollout of hydrogen storage technology.
So when the sun hits your roof, or the wind hits the wall, you generate electricity.
If you have surplus, you electrolyze water. Hydrogen comes into a cell from the water.
And then, when the sun isn't hitting the roof, convert it back.
How many engineers here? Of course, now, a lot of people will say,
"Well, wait a minute. Isn't that a waste of electricity twice?"
What every engineer knows is, you cannot escape the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
That's what empathy/entropy is all about. You always pay the bill.
If we begin to understand the conversion price in bringing oil and uranium all the way the
power to you, it's through the roof. So Pillar one, renewable energy.
Pillar two, the buildings become the power plants.
They suck up the energy around the buildings -- renewables.
Pillar three, hydrogen storage. Pillar four -- and this is where you come
in -- you're not quite there yet -- Pillar four is where the distributed ICT revolution
begins to manage the distributed energy revolution to create a Third Industrial Revolution, and
hopefully, distributed consciousness. We take the exact same technology that created
the Internet -- identical. And we take the power grid of the European
Union -- hopefully, North America and elsewhere. And we transform that power lines into an
intergrid that acts like the Internet. So that when millions and millions and millions
of buildings across Europe are collecting a little bit of their own energy -- renewables
that are around the site -- storing it with hydrogen, like we store media in digital,
and then sharing what they don't need across smart, distributed grids across all of Europe.
This is a Third Industrial Revolution. This is power to the people. This is distributed
capitalism. And this answers a question we couldn't answer
for 30 years. For 30 years, governments would say to me,
"Mr. Rifkin, my gosh, we love windmills and solar roofs and garbage and all of that, but
you can't run a global economy on these soft energies.
You still need coal, oil, gas, uranium, tar sands.
They're hard energy." We couldn't answer this question for 30 years,
but now we can -- thanks to your industry. It's called second-generation Grid IT.
Last seven years, we got the answer. We now have software -- grid IT -- that allows
us to connect hundreds of thousands, or even millions of little desktop computers that
don't have a lot of power, but when we connect them with Grid IT software, the distributed
power of hundreds of thousands of little desktop computers exceeds by a magnitude anything
you can imagine with centralized supercomputers, correct?
We can take Grid IT to the power lines when millions and then hundreds of millions of
structures are generating just a little bit of their energy on site, storing with hydrogen
like you store media in digital, then distributed, sharing it across contiguous land masses of
the Great Continents, the power exceeds anything you could ever imagine with centralized nuclear
and coal-fired power plants. This is a generational shift.
My generation still thinks centralized, top-down, and right-left.
Your generation thinks differently -- distributed, collaborative, open-source.
And right at the heart of it is right here at Google.
Old generation in this campus here. If we are able to make this shift, we can
begin to imagine empathy extended in a distributed way across the world.
That is, when everyone takes responsibility for that small swath of the biosphere where
we live, and harness the energy of the earth there, and then, share it across continents,
we begin to think distributed responsibility for the human race.
We have to be both entrepreneurial and collaborative. We have to create energy spaces that act like
social spaces on the Internet. We have to think 'commons'.
This is a revolution in thinking. It changes temporal/spatial orientation.
Unless we think this is impossible -- you know what I imagine, and this will resonate
with you folks here -- remember after the Iran elections that were flawed and the young
students protested in the streets and the government started to get violent by shooting?
And they shot a young, college, premed student -- a young woman.
And someone had a cell phone, and they videoed it.
And within an hour, across the world -- because of Google and all of the communications --
an entire generation was empathizing with the young students on the streets.
That's biosphere consciousness. Today, in every school, our young people are
learning, from the time they're six or seven, that everything they do each day affects someone
else -- the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the electricity they use, the family
car. Every single thing they do actually intimately
affects the well-being of another human or another animal on this planet.
That's biosphere consciousness. The problem is, How do we break the paradox
of history -- more empathy, more entropy? A Third Industrial Revolution gives your generation
a shock, because this is distributed. It's sustainable.
It's 'think global' and 'act local'. There is no guarantee you're going to get
there. I honestly don't know, when I look at all
the younger folks here, who will be around in 2050 -- 2075 -- I don't know whether you're
going to make it. Our scientists say we only have a few more
years to get one roadmap for the world. No mistakes.
And we've got to get to a post-carbon era quickly.
I hope the scientists are all wrong, but I think they're underestimating the speed of
the feedback loops. So, how can consciousness change?
Let me use an example. First mirrors, and then, I want to move up
to Google maps. How many of you looked in a mirror today?
Raise your hands. You take that for granted, don't you?
Do you realize that up to the 14th, 15th century, people did not see themselves clearly?
That's why there wasn't a lot of hygiene and grooming back then.
You could see yourself in a pond of water, woe! As it's streaming down the river or in
a piece of metal. But in the 1400s in Morano or Venice, they
started mass-producing mirrors. And they took these little mirrors, and whenever
you bought a printed book, you got a mirror. All of a sudden, the new pastime -- people
started looking at themselves. "Wow, that's me." You, me.
It wasn't about narcissism. It allowed people to create self-reflection.
That's what mirrors do -- reflect. So now, we call it 'self-reflection'.
It allowed us to develop selfhood. More individuality in a more existential sense
of how 'I am not you,' 'you are not I,' but I can existentially support your struggle,
because I know you're a separate, individual identity.
Now, let's go up to Google. When I was young, and I remember in 1969 when
the Apollo spaceship passed the dark side of the moon on the last journey, our guys
came up on the bright side. The sun is shining on the Earth and in this
ship, they took some photos of the planet Earth.
Those photos were put up on posters all over the world.
That was an out-of-body experience. Today, because of Google, you have a whole
generation that's wired their brain differently. You can take a Google map from outer space,
zoom down anywhere on this planet into the door and window of any building.
That out-of-body experience allows us to look from the outside in.
From the upside down. So we get a sense of how small this is.
And how we're responsible, because we're embedded and in charge of this little sphere called
'Earth'. That is truly a new change in consciousness.
People before that Google maps, they did not have that sense of framework from the outside
in and from top-down. So, can we make this in time?
What we have now is, 50 percent of the human race living above our means in a nonsustainable
world with a big carbon footprint. 40 percent of the human race living on two
dollars a day or less, barely able to survive. How do we bring everyone together?
How do we break the empathy/entropy paradox? I think we revisit what makes us happy.
Now remember, John Locke said, "The negation of nature, the acquisition of property, the
material wealth makes us happy." Or to quote one of the great sages of the
20th century, "Material girl, material world," she got it wrong too, all right?
But the new happiness studies are very interesting, because they're showing us, "If you're really
poor, you're not happy. You have very few emotional and empathic reserves
to think about the polar bears." As you get wealthier, you get happier.
Until you reach a threshold of what we call 'basic comfort'.
That's the threshold. Beyond that, the wealthier we get, the more
unhappy we are. Envy comes in, empathy goes down, we become
more insular and more isolated. So the question is, How do we take the top
half of the human race in terms of wealth and learn to live more sustainably while the
bottom half comes up to the threshold? And now, I'm going to step on some toes here
in the U.S. We got to move beyond the American Dream.
It's not suited for the biosphere world you're going into.
That dream was the dream of the Enlightenment philosophy, based on the idea that we're all
detached, autonomous, individual agents who pursue our self-interest and our utility.
And it worked for two centuries in a frontier when the world was being colonized.
But can you imagine how we're going to bring the world together, create a global economy,
save the biosphere, with 6.8 billion cowboys each pursuing their individual self-interest?
There's a new dream emerging among your generation. It's not the American Dream.
It still -- it doesn't discount personal opportunity, but it puts it in a larger context.
If you ask young people in Europe and much of America what the dream is, I hear more
and more this term, "quality of life." We want a good quality of life.
That's a community exercise. It requires individual empowerment and community
collaboration. What you're doing on Google is, you're creating
a new frame of reference with the technology. And that is, on Google, people don't say right
or left. They talk about collaborative. They talk about
the commons. They talk about distributing and sharing knowledge,
correct? That's a sea change.
That's the beginning of biosphere consciousness. When young people saw that polar bear and
her cub on that ice flow -- that little video -- and they knew they weren't going to make
it, an entire generation was empathizing right there at the moment, not just with the bear
and her cub on that ice flow because of climate change, but all our fellow species.
We're almost there. We're almost there. Can we get there?
I believe the mission here at Google is to take this engine, which is allowing us to
connect the central nervous system of the human race, and connect every single aspect
of this planet into a single embrace. Connect that central nervous system -- that
distributed communication -- so we can organize distributed energy, take responsibility for
the energy that bays the planet distributed our consciousness.
And finally, here's what I'd like to see here at Google: You start a global conversation
right here. What is the purpose of this Internet?
What is the purpose of Google? Is it more information?
More entertainment? Better commerce? That's all it is, that's a pretty tawdry reason
to connect the central nervous system of the human race -- I'm going to tell you that.
And if that is the case, we're going to dummy down the possibilities of saving our species.
What Google needs to do is prepare a global conversation on how we began to use this new
Internet to ratchet up the conversation, to begin a great, global discussion on how we
bring the human race together, create biosphere consciousness, help us reduce the temperature
on the planet, think as homo empathicus. Your mission, I think, is to help prepare
the groundwork for an empathic civilization. Don't squander this opportunity.
Help us lead the way into this new era. I think the mission is clear.
Thank you.
>> [Applause]
>> I was told we should do a few minutes of questions.
Anyone? Yes.
Q Yeah, when we talk about these previous revolutions, a lot of them seem to have come
fairly top-down. There was a power or wealth opportunities
that were seen and seized by those who already had capital to invest.
While this one is being prevented mainly by those people.
And it doesn't look like those at the top that have the centralized power are really
buying into this just yet. And the market's going to take too long from
what you're saying for this to catch up. So I mean, how would you recommend a bottom-up
revolution to this?
A Well, I'm starting to see it happen. I teach at the Wharton School.
I've been at there for a long time, and I teach in the executive program.
I teach CEOs -- our advanced management program. I'm seeing a generational shift for sure.
The older generation is still top-down. Patriarchal, from parenting styles, cool models,
business models, the work. I'm seeing a younger generation in their 20's,
30's, and 40's -- distributed, collaborative, open-source.
They're there. The question is, How do we begin to bring
this new, distributed thinking together in a synergistic way so we bring distributed
communication together with distributed energy and create a distributed form of consciousness?
It's going to be very difficult. I chair something called the Global CEO Third
Industrial Revolution Business Round table. We have 125 CEOs of leading companies --
not the energy companies -- but we have all the major, renewable energy companies.
Pillar one. The major real estate and construction companies
like Cushman & Wakefield and CH2M Hills in our group.
Pillar three, we got the major hydrogen companies like UTC Hydrogenics.
Pillar four, we've got IBM in our group now, Cisco has just joined.
You're not, but I would love you to be. We've got Kima in our group.
We've got Phillips and Schneider. And these are CEOs at their level.
And we have the major logistics company -- U.S. postal service for example is in the
group. And what we're doing now with this E.U. mandate
is, we're going into cities, regions, and countries, collaborating with major cities,
regions and countries to lay down masterplans all in the last year.
We just did San Antonio, seventh largest city in the U.S.
We're now doing Rome. Rome, the entire Rome. Third Industrial Revolution. 30 years, all
post-carbon. We just finished Monaco. We're going to Euchick
next week. We're working with Zapatero for an 8 billion
Euro rollout in Spain. We're working in Greece -- many countries.
So, I think the will is there among a whole genre of businesses that get this.
We would love to have Google right there at the center of this revolution, because you've
already extended the central nervous system. Now, you have to allow us and help us extend
the distributed energy with that central nervous system.
Tell your CEOs. Tell your senior manager. We'd love to have them with us so we can begin
to develop this process. We don't really want to wait any longer, and
we're tired of pilot projects. We want to lay down whole infrastructures
in collaboration with regions. Anyone else?
Q So the E.U. is mandating things. And you mentioned something about both being
bought by corporations being allowed nowadays. But for the first one, that doesn't sound
very distributed to me. And you're getting corporations to basically
cooperate -- or governments to cooperate with the corporations to mandate things probably
on the corporation's behalf. So how do you balance this?
A I'm glad you asked. We have a set of rules in being involved with
this network for Google to know. First of all, our CEOs are two different institutions
-- global companies and the world's cooperatives. At first, they were uncomfortable with each
other. We have the world's banking, construction
cooperatives, retail, and housing cooperatives, because we have some litmus tests.
When we go into a city or region, first of all, there has to be three players at the
table -- the civil society, the local government, and local business, and it's a collaborative
effort with them and us. Two, whatever energy is developed there has
to be developed into cooperatives -- neighborhood cooperatives, housing cooperatives, small
retail cooperatives -- so people control their own energy and distribute it across grids.
Three, our companies have to engage in new business models like performance contracts.
So for example, Phillips is in my group. Rudy Pruvost is the CEO of Phillips Lighting.
They would come in, for example, to San Francisco and say, "We'll do your outdoor lighting if
the community wants it. We'll put in compact fluorescent LED to save
energy. It's a performance contract. We'll finance
it. The city will pay us back on energy savings.
If we can't do the energy savings, we lose." So there's a whole set of new criteria.
All energy has to be local. Energy cooperatives have to be set up.
Whatever businesses emerge have to be local. And the civil society, local government, and
business have to be in a joint collaborative masterplan over a period of time with our
global cooperatives and businesses. Does that sound good to you?
I don't know how else we would do it. That engages everybody at the table -- everyone.
So, my hope here is -- you've got a tremendous opportunity here at Google.
And you are privileged to be able to be at a place where you can actually begin to roll
out the technology to allow us, not only to connect our central nervous system, but to
connect our energy and connect our consciousness and go to the next stage, which is biosphere
awareness -- and begin to think about preparing an empathic civilization.
You're young, you've got the energy, don't waste it.
We need a legacy here, and that legacy is to preserve our species, our fellow creatures,
and the earth that we live in. Thank you.
>> [applause]