Five mysterious billionaires summoned theorist Douglas Rushkoff to a desert resort for a private talk. The topic? How to survive the "Event" the societal catastrophe they know is coming. Rushkoff came to understand that these men were under the influence of The Mindset, a Silicon Valley-style certainty that they and their cohort can break the laws of physics, economics, and morality to escape a disaster of their own making--as long as they have enough money and the right technology.
In Survival of the Richest, Rushkoff traces the origins of The Mindset in science and technology through its current expression in missions to Mars, island bunkers, AI futurism, and the metaverse. In a dozen urgent, electrifying chapters, he confronts tech utopianism, the datafication of all human interaction, and the exploitation of that data by corporations. Through fascinating characters--master programmers who want to remake the world from scratch as if redesigning a video game and bankers who return from Burning Man convinced that incentivized capitalism is the solution to environmental disasters--Rushkoff explains why those with the most power to change our current trajectory have no interest in doing so. And he shows how recent forms of anti-mainstream rebellion--QAnon, for example, or meme stocks--reinforce the same destructive order.
This mind-blowing work of social analysis shows us how to transcend the landscape The Mindset created--a world alive with algorithms and intelligences actively rewarding our most selfish tendencies--and rediscover community, mutual aid, and human interdependency. In a thundering conclusion, Survival of the Richest argues that the only way to survive the coming catastrophe is to ensure it doesn't happen in the first place.
- ISBN-13: 9780393881066
- ISBN-10: 0393881067
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
- Publish Date: September 2022
- Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds
- Page Count: 224
There are any number of events that could trigger a global apocalypse: climate change, a virus, nuclear war, an asteroid, the rise of artificial intelligence. Would anyone be able to survive? A group of elitist technology billionaires have seriously pondered this very question, spending a great deal of time and money to plan how they alone might outlive this inevitable catastrophic event, leaving the rest of us in the dust. In Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires, professor of media theory and digital economics Douglas Rushkoff (Team Human) explains how this evacuation plan came to be and what it means for the future. When Rushkoff was invited to an exclusive desert resort for what he thought was a speech on the future of technology, he was shocked to find that his audience was just five super wealthy men "from the upper echelon of the tech investing and hedge fund world." As it turned out, they had summoned him to pick his brain about how best to insulate themselves from "the very real and present danger" of a mass extinction, even asking him whether New Zealand or Alaska would be rendered less uninhabitable by the coming climate crisis. Each chapter of Survival of the Richest focuses on a different aspect of how these tech billionaires have gotten to this place in our society and the origins of their entitled way of thinking. Rushkoff calls this Silicon Valley escapism "The Mindset," a frame of mind that "encourages its adherents to believe that the winners can somehow leave the rest of us behind." He skillfully uses his extensive background in media theory to explain The Mindset in such clear terms, it's scary. For example, he proposes that The Mindset allows for the easy externalization of harm to others: Its very structure requires an endgame, with a clear winner and loser, in which the winners are the ones who have found "a means of escape from the apocalypse of their own making." Of course the irony in all of this is that "these people once showered the world with madly optimistic business plans for how technology might benefit human society," Rushkoff writes. "Now they've reduced technological progress to a video game that one of them wins by finding the escape hatch." Numbing and mind-blowing in equal measure, Survival of the Richest is a true story that seems straight out of a science fiction tale.