On Billionaires and Hundred Millionaires
Eating the Rich: pros and cons
Of the people I personally met, there are 5 billionaires and 3-5 hundred-ish millionaires. One is the heir, the other 7-9 are the makers of money. 5 are the Dons of their wealth reason, the head, and the rest are second in command or lower rank.
My impression of them has generally been that they are positive attitude people, whose level of happiness is either slightly above average, or significantly above average. The only tense megawealthy guy I met is Elon, and even him I met shortly after an orgasm so I got to see a more relaxed version.
To start with the basics: Most people – though not you reading this – don’t understand the distinction between expendable wealth and capital investment. Most of the money of literally all these guys (I haven’t met a superwealthy lady, but my DMs are open) is invested as capital, meaning some other person is trying to use it to make their own startup, company, etc… thrive by providing service to other people. A little of that money is locked into NGOs and other “money sinks” like going to space, projects that don’t produce enough to self sustain, but that outside looking in we would consider productive because they are doing a good for the world.
Some of their wealth is in expendable form, like they own houses, planes, boats etc… and three of them own incredible amounts of Cryptocurrency as well.
I got to visit houses but not planes or boats or islands. These are amazing houses. The dominant feature in most I visited is space. There’s a lot of empty space, as if to open the creative spirit that led them to ideas. Assuming they became more extraverted since becoming rich, and have regular business or fun meetings as well as dates and family meetings in those spaces, it doesn’t seem to me like a bad usage of space. If they are living as lonely as Covid me, it seems like utilitarian waste. But otherwise, the houses seem to me like a valuable memory to most non-envy driven people who visit, and envy driven people seldom get as high as the house of billionaires.
Being nice to me: without exception, all megawealthy men I know were very nice to me. I suspect that is in part just structurally embedded in their personality, and in part because I am:
(1) Not motivated by money – so I spend a very small fraction of the interaction asking them for wealth, whereas most people might see them solely as a fountain of weatlh.
(2) Not adversarial – I mostly want to strike a conversation and, if I’m being honest, make a friend. That’s not the normal mode for people who talk to them, I guess because business and (1).
(3) Not afraid or nervous around them – unlike when I met Dennett or Bostrom, where my heart was racing so hard you could probably hear it a room away, I don’t see rich people as “not like me demigods”. Extraversion and being raised in Brazil’s elite makes me almost indifferent to megawealth. So breaking the ice is easy and conversing is smooth.
I saw them have the same problems everyone else has. Suffer from a breakup. Make hard decisions for other people. Try to find what are the magnets of best minds in other continents. Decide what needs to be done in technology. Feel left out in a party. Have to decide when to kick me out or keep chatting. Thank someone for paying attention to them. Date. Reflect on our imminent death and what they can do about it with their money.
Now that doesn’t mean that behind the curtains they might not have been very mean. It’s possible they set me up with negative outcomes, or set up other people. It is cheap after all to secure a couple years of despair to an enemy who is less rich. But I have not seen it.
As one would predict, they are very smart people. But they did not strike me as brilliant or geniuses, overall. The average is lower than Andrew Yang or Max Tegmark for instance. 3 of them are brilliant. Outstanding wealth comes from high intelligence combined with rare windows of opportunity, being in the right place, and huge diligence and conscientiousness – at least huge as seen from my 0th conscientious mind.
I spent a lot of time in my life finding smart people. From visiting the Boston universities, to being a visiting fellow in Berkeley, Oxford, and visiting Cambridge, the Singularity people, etc… and I guess one feeling I come out of it all experiencing is that perhaps the distribution of intellectual value in the world is almost as unequal as the distribution of wealth. One of the tragic discoveries I think of the last three decades of the internet and globalization is that there are very few super heroes in the world. One could have imagined they were hiding before, and the internet would allow everyone who can become the next Peterson or Musk to shine, and tens of thousands would emerge.
But that’s not what happened. Either a bandwagon effect ate a lot of creativity because people are scared of being different, or we had already exhausted much of the low hanging fruit, or there simply weren’t enough genetically gifted awesome people with the right motivations.
But we are still on a gridlock as a species. We still depend on the innovation coming from fewer than 2000 people. We depend on the concentrated wealth in the hands of other 2000, and most of us simply accept that we are not the ones who get to change the whole thing.
I’m not mad or unhappy that wealth is concentrated in few hands like it is. As far as I can tell, so is intellectual capacity, creativity, etc… And maybe, because I’m creative and smart, I could resent the wealthy because I personally don’t value conscientiousness. But that would obviously be a mistake. As Bezos and Ferriss and Sivers and Graham point out, having an idea is easy, executing it is hard. I get it.
At the end of the day, though there’s some difference between the current uneven distribution of wealth, and the one I think would most effectively create a desirable future for our species, the difference isn’t easy to change, and the current model is more conducive to improvement than any other I can easily see implemented.
I think the problem isn’t quite the concentration of wealth, in fact capital is distribution of wealth in the time dimension.
I think the problem at the end of the day is that there are not that many interesting people who can come up with and execute world changing plans.
Most of our ape species is still too human, and not enough transhuman.
Be the transhuman amongst the humans around you. The future might thank you, and you may amass uncanny wealth in the process.