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Democracy & Technology Blog George v. Joy

George Gilder and Bill Joy just finished their panel on “Is Technology Making Us Safer?” at the Always-On conference at Stanford University. Joy, once a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and now a new partner at Kleiner Perkins ventures, seems to have somewhat moderated his views on the “relinquishment” of technology — for example, saying biologists should have a sort of Hippocratic oath to help prevent the spread of dangerous bio-information rather than a bureaucratic government response as he previously suggested — but he is still just as worried about global warming as ever. He asked George, “Don’t you read Nature magazine?” as if the climatologists published there are dispositive. Joy said there is a consensus about global warming, and asked why would George fight it. George countered that science isn’t about consensus — in fact, science is the antithesis of consensus based knowledge — science is about truth. Joy’s dabbling in politics and economics is actually bad for the problems of mankind he cares so much about. By distracting himself with things he knows little about, he takes himself away from the realm where he really can contribute to human wellbeing — technology. I guess it’s good, therefore, that Joy is now back in technology as a partner with KPC&B, and not writing socialist or anti-technology tomes. Even at KPC&B, however, he envisions his primary goal not simply to make great investments but to compensate for today’s dangerous (as he sees it) political environment.
-Bret Swanson

Bret Swanson

Bret Swanson is a Senior Fellow at Seattle's Discovery Institute, where he researches technology and economics and contributes to the Disco-Tech blog. He is currently writing a book on the abundance of the world economy, focusing on the Chinese boom and developing a new concept linking economics and information theory. Swanson writes frequently for the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal on topics ranging from broadband communications to monetary policy.