Thursday, September 29, 2016

Zuckerberg's God Delusion

Limitless wealth is not very good for your mind. Especially, if you earned that wealth at Facebook.

Precisely why people who have achieved such great success should want to look like fools defies reason.

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg, fresh off of his maternity leave, has announced that he and his wife will now use his wealth to rid the world of disease. As the poet said: “Death, thou shalt die.”

Katie Hopkins had the story at the Daily Mail:

Looking like two humanoids from a snazzy Artificial Intelligence launch, Zuckerberg and Chan announced their plan to 'cure, prevent or manage all human disease by the end of the century'.

She continues:

All these tech geeks, from whatever their starting point on the autistic spectrum, are competing to see who is the greatest of them all. Who will defeat their ultimate adversary, death, by being remembered for all time.

Getting down to earth Hopkins notes that the Zuckerberg-Chan contribution of $3,000,000,000 (over ten years) is merely one tenth of what the National Institutes of Health spends in ONE year.

Vanity anyone?

Call it the wages of guilt, but, however admirable the sentiment, it’s a minor contribution to a major effort, one that is being undertaken throughout the world by physicians, pharmaceutical companies and foundations. The money expended on this effort positively dwarfs the Zuckerberg contribution.

Hopkins says that Zuckerberg and several tech oligarchs have a God delusion. Having conquered cyberspace they are looking for new worlds to conquer. Or else they are trying to do penance for their outsized fortunes. Better to give it away before someone decides to take it away. We are assured that they are voting for the people who would be most apt to try to take it away.

They might consider that pride goeth before a fall. A little bit of humility would do them all very well.


Trigger Warning said...

Humility is in short supply due to lack of demand.

David Spence said...

Stuart-Isn't it telling that most of the decent investigative journalism today regarding US events comes from the British papers?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Yes ... good point!

Callmelennie said...

One would think that Zuck would have learned a little humility after he proclaimed that his Facebook inspired Arab Spring would bring a new era of peace and prosperity to those ancient lands benighted by Western Imperialism

How did that turn out, Zuck-man?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Vanity? What's that? I'm just doing the right thing. Look at me! Look at me!

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

The British papers are doing the job the American media used to do, and are supposed to do.

Ares Olympus said...

We can doubt whether $3 billion is spitting into the ocean or not, but I don't see the problem with thinking big as a thought experiment.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, last year said they would give 99 percent of their Facebook shares to charitable causes. Now they are putting a large chunk of that money to work.

Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan, who are also part of the Giving Pledge and have looked up to Mr. Gates, announced the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative at the end of last year. At the time, their Facebook holdings were valued at around $45 billion.

At the event Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg said that if his organization’s plan to cure or manage all disease worked, it should increase human life expectancy to 100 years.

“That doesn’t mean no one will ever get sick,” he said. “But they should be able to treat it and manage it.”

The issue for me is affordability. Are we banking on million dollar cancer treatments for the 50% of people who will get cancer in their lifetime already? If we include 7 billion people in the world that's a $3500 trillion dollar promise, or even the United States perhaps $160 trillion.

Or more simply can we afford lifetime average individual medical bills that exceed the average lifetime income of the citizens of a country?!

So the reality is surely something harsher - even if we learn how to "preventing, curing or managing all diseases", we know the benefits will go most towards those who can afford the treatments.

Myself, I'm convinced we need "universal health care" of some sort, but the reality of that still has to set limits on costs. What is "universal" has to be the floor of care, something that defines basic dignity rather than the gold-star plan.

Sarah Palin helped put the fear of "death panels" into the airwaves, but I think we have to find some truce with death before we declare an "any price is worth it".

Are you willing to indebten your children, so you can live a few more years? But if you happen to have a few billion in FB stock, you don't have to make any compromises for your own health care.

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. I admit if I had God Delusions I'd probably more likely go with Elon Musk's vision of space travel - a way cooler way to waste billions on hype. SpaceX's Elon Musk Unveils Interplanetary Spaceship to Colonize Mars

The vision reminds me of Issac Asimov's SciFi vision where a small fraction of humanity travel into space, eliminate disease, replace almost any organ in their bodies and so they can live 200+ years, and thus find contempt for the backwards people left on earth.

But eventually the story turns on its head, and the "Spacer worlds" grow complacent in their long lifespans and stop collaborating with each other for their own individual glory, and fail to handle the messiness of actual civilization.

So eventually the short-lived but more collaborative earthlings are forced into space by a catastrophe and end up passing by the first set of worlds and colonize the galaxy into a great galactic empire.

Anyway, I'll agree it's fun to see where grandiosity an arrogance can go wrong.

Technical expertise definitely encourage gradiose visions, with our waxy wing attachments we find a chance to fly towards the sun of enlightenment.

Msyelf I'll feel more comfortable with our "western progress" when we learn how to run civilization without burning our one-time inheritances or running everything on debt and expecting the future will always be bigger than the present to pay for essentials now.

Bizzy Brain said...

What scientist or researcher anywhere wants to cure anything? They say they do, but the money and the status and the careers are in the research process. For example, why would dentists want to find a cure for tooth decay and put themselves out of business? Same with cancer and a myriad of other diseases.

Ares Olympus said...

Bizzy Brain said... What scientist or researcher anywhere wants to cure anything?

News flash: There is more than one problem in the world to challenge researchers.

Do scientists despair that Polio was eliminated? Oops, I mean almost.
The last recorded case of type 3 was on 11 November 2012. All reported cases since 11 November 2012 have been of type 1. If polio is the next disease to be successfully eradicated, this will represent only the third time this has ever been achieved, after smallpox and rinderpest.

74 cases of wild poliomyelitis were reported worldwide during 2015, 53 in Pakistan and 20 in Afghanistan. This represents an 80% reduction of cases compared to 2014, with only 2 countries affected compared to 9.

I do recall Kurt Vonnegut's proposed solution for tooth decay - we just need to shorten our lifespans to 35 years. That ought to work for most cancers too.

Bizzy Brain said...

Good point, Ares, on polio.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Somehow I think God will have the last word with Mr. Zuckerberg concerning who God really is.