It's easy to see the problems in the world. The Islamic State beheading and burning people alive in the Middle East. Russia evolving more and more into a totalitarian state. Here at home, scandals distract from a government that wants to regulate every aspect of your life. But there is one place where entrepreneurs and inventors are creating a path towards freedom: Silicon Valley.
Below is a transcript of this segment:
I want to talk to you a little bit about something that I think is really hard for me to explain and hard for me to at this point even articulate, because I am a babe in the woods on this, but I feel like I was…remember when I was at the beginning of finding the progressive movement, and I’m like, “I’m telling you, there’s something with Woodrow Wilson”? I’m telling you on the good way there is something big happening in Silicon Valley. I was there last week, and the innovators that are there are some of the only people that I believe are creating a path towards freedom.
Even with the government doing their best to get their dirty little hands on the Internet with net neutrality and everything else, innovation, I believe, is going to be too rapid for the government to keep up with. What’s interesting is that this is one of the few places in America where the people that you meet are optimistic about the future. That scared the crap out of me. Sorry, I thought there was a gun.
Silicon Valley is an interesting place where if you go to LA or to New York or Washington, D.C., everybody knows it’s over. If you go into your office or your factory or radio stations are like this now, television stations are like this now, places where people are being fired and let off, you just feel like it’s over, it’s over.
You go to even universities, and you just know that’s not the future. It’s over. So, where’s the optimism? Well, the optimism isn’t there because (a) we’re being told we suck. We’re being told that it’s over. We no longer believe that better days are in front of us, but the things that are coming will truly blow your mind. We just don’t recognize them yet.
The world of tomorrow is here now. There are going to be potential problems. There might be 100 years…I hope it’s 10 to 15, 20 years, but there might be 100 years of real grinding here to change, but the NSA doesn’t win in the end. The hackers win in the end.
Technology will always be one step ahead, and it is amazing to me that the top innovators in America, the people who are actually seeing over the horizon, are not more well-known to the American public. If you go back 100 years to the last time this really happened, it was Edison’s day. Everybody knew Edison. Everybody knew what he was working. Everybody was excited. Some people thought it was nonsense, but people were generally excited. We had big expositions. We had the Chicago World’s Fair where we said to the world, “Come, look at what we’re doing.” People would travel for days to see it.
Last week, I was talking to a guy in Silicon Valley who is friends with, I think, the guy who is maybe a modern-day Edison, a guy named Elon Musk. He’s only done little things like PayPal and Tesla Motors. He is championing the electric car.
Now, the electric car is just the beginning because of the battery. He is also now saying we can build batteries for homes, totally different. He recently unveiled a model with dual engines in his car…pretty fast, pretty fast, pretty amazing. He founded SpaceX. He sued the government because Lockheed Martin and Boeing had a launch monopoly, and he thought SpaceX should be included in the contract bidding.
He’s seriously pursuing something called the Hyperloop which would revolutionize the speed in which we travel. He gathered a group of engineers and gave them stock options instead of money, and they went to work. Elon Musk, he recently Tweeted that he would be building a test track in Texas. The question is do people even know who Elon Musk is, our modern-day Edison or Tesla?
We hit the streets in New York to ask people, “Do you know who the Kardashians are, and do you know who Elon Musk is? Watch.
W: So, when you think of famous people in America, what names come to mind?
W: Kim Kardashian, unfortunately, Kanye West. I might as well just add him in there.
W: Who comes to mind? Shoot, Tom Hanks comes to mind. Who else?
M: George Clooney comes to mind.
W: Like actors and actresses or the president, Hillary Clinton.
M: Oh my gosh, movie stars, I guess.
M: Taylor Swift.
W: I was going to say Brad Pitt.
W: Do you know who Elon Musk is?
M: The name rings a bell with me, but no.
M: No, never, never.
W: Yes, his face looks very familiar. Who is he?
W: Say it again.
W: Elon Musk.
W: No, I’m sorry. Oh, okay, I think I may have seen him on a talk show.
W: On a talk show?
W: Have you ever heard of Elon Musk? Wait, do you want to see his photo?
W: Oh yeah, he’s the Tesla guy.
One person, he’s the Tesla guy. Yes. I don’t know if Elon Musk is Edison or, you know, Tesla or the guy that’s going to break through in the end, but what I do know is he is one of the big guys knocking on the door, and Americans should be watching and cheering and gathering hope, helping people like this further their innovation.
We should be excited about what is over the horizon, but instead we’re too busy watching Kim Kardashian. We’re too busy quite honestly arguing about Republicans, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. I don’t want that future. Either one of those, I don’t want that future.
We don’t understand the times in which we live. Edison and the people who lived then, most people had some clue. Elon Musk understands. He’s made a car now that is faster than a Ferrari, an American car. He likens the experience to having your own roller coaster. It’s a full G of lateral acceleration. Why aren’t we heralding somebody…while the car industry is collapsing in America, here’s a guy who’s completely reinventing it, and nobody’s talking about.
We are living in a time where tomorrowland is here right now. I want to give you an example. We’ve been talking about self-driving cars for a while, and it’s almost like a flying car to most people. It was really to me until I test drove a Mercedes GL. It’s their family van thing.
As I’m driving this thing, I try to go into the other lane. I put the blinker on, and it has something called “blind spot assist.” I don’t know what that was. I try to get into the other lane, and the car won’t let me. Why? Because I dismissed the mirror, and the car, “blind spot.” I dismissed it, but the car didn’t, and the car was right. It protected me from myself.
Now, as I did that and I drove this thing, and you can set it so it tells you exactly how far you want to be from the car in front, and then it slows and stops. It’s on the freeway, you exit, it’ll slow down. It stops at the light. I mean, it’s amazing. That’s the car that’s out today. I started talking about this with the guys, you know, that we were talking to about Tesla last week, and they said that’s nothing.
You know, the new Tesla, right now, the new Tesla, when you pull up to your house, it asks you “garage one or garage two?” After a while, it knows which garage you park in, and so it just opens the garage door for you. The one that’s on the drawing board now, when you get up in the morning, you know, some people have those cool cars where you can start them. You know, it’s cold, and so you just, you know, BOOP, and it starts your car. The new Tesla, you can do that, it will open the garage and drive the car to the front door to pick you up.
This morning, I get in, and a friend in the high-tech industry sends me, and this is a couple of months old, a video of the Mercedes concept car. What I’m about to show you is not a computer-generated image. This is a real car. All of the interior is real. What’s on the doors is real. It’s actually not a 3-D computer drawing. It debuted on the streets of Las Vegas.
It is a self-driving car. You get into it, you sit in it and use the touchscreens or sleep or talk with other people. It’s like riding around in a living room. I don’t know about you, but that seems like 1,000,000 miles away.
As I’m talking to one of the guys in Silicon Valley, again, this is only on cars, as I’m talking to him about cars, he asks me, he said, “So, are you going to buy that Mercedes? Are you going to buy one of those self-driving cars?” I said, “No, I’m going to wait until the 2020. I’ll just drive my car.” I’ll wait for the 2020 to come out, because I think the 2020, and I’m thinking will be the closest to self-driving, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. He said, “You buy the 2020, it will be the last car you buy that you can actually drive yourself.”
Gang, that’s four years away. You buy a new car today, a GM will be that way in four years. The technology is starting to compound, and it’s going to outpace your imagination and the good news is outpace those trying to control us. Now, there’s all kinds of things to talk about with self-driving cars—are you actually free if the car drives yourself? I get it. I get it, but what I want to tell you tonight is I thought for a while we were headed towards an industrial revolution. I’ve said that for years that we’re headed for an industrial revolution. It’s just going to be in a 10- or 15-year period. I’ve told you recently we’re at the beginning of that now, and so all of this upheaval is going to be pretty remarkable.
I’d like to amend that after I spent my time in Silicon Valley last week. I don’t believe we’re headed for an industrial revolution. I believe we are headed into a second Renaissance. Now, there are two paths that we can choose. We can, you know, either choose the light or the dark. We can choose freedom that embraces a completely new mentality on that future that is coming, and we can all play a role in it, and we can all learn different things.
Remember, it was the Gutenberg press, it was the press that actually helped everybody see the future and start to think differently because they could have access to books. Two thirds of the world is not connected yet to the Internet, but it’s about to be, and it’s our access to ideas and to people and to things, to books now through the Internet, that is going to give us another Renaissance.
Now, some are going to desperately try to hang onto the status quo just like the leaders did then. I mean, it went into an inquisition and everything else. They locked people in the towers because they didn’t want to lose their control, but in the end, those people broke free. They beat those who were trying to hold onto the status quo. If we do that, if we understand that we are headed towards something more akin to the Renaissance should we choose, we will look back on these days not as the good old days—oh geez.
Right now, we’re all thinking, “Man, America’s never going to get better than this.” No, let’s change our attitude. We’ll look back on these days possibly as the Dark Ages, but there is a second path, and I showed it to you last night. It’s this board, the road to World War III. There is no freedom on this board. There is no driving car. There is no Internet on this board unless the Internet is used to cobble together the disenfranchised youth or used by hard Fascists to clamp down or cyber warfare.
Last week, when I met the thought leaders and libertarians in Silicon Valley, I wanted to live in their world. Even if 80% of what they think is coming is wrong, I want to live in the 20%. It’s a very bright future, but it still is up to us to chart a course that way, and it is up to us to be able to understand that freedom is the basic building block. It is up to us to look to the leaders who are changing things and herald them and make them our champions, if you will, make sure that we’re out there rooting for them.