‘The reality is that a lot of programming right now is just like construction, it's not about thinking. So I do think over time you're going to have a lot of those kinds of jobs and a gain of more sophisticated ones. And that's going to be better for everybody.’
Will that lead to the creation of more startups?
‘I think so. In my vision, in the future you have billions of people starting companies, but they don't look like traditional companies. Sometimes they only have one person working, sometimes a person might have five things that they're working on. It's very interesting, like pre-Industrial revolution, everyone was a maker, everyone was a business person, everyone was an entrepreneur.
‘Then in the Industrial era, we realised that you could have machines that can build stuff. We could actually turn humans into quasi-machines and build these meta-machines where humans plug in as cogs in the wheel. And they could produce vast amounts of goods, and humans would specialise. That made the modern world.
‘But I actually think that we're going to go into a post-Industrial, almost pre-Industrial era where everyone is going to become a maker and a creator again. That's for two reasons: one is by necessity – the machines are eating all of the jobs that were automatable in the way that humans needed to do it in the past. But the other is that it's now possible to do things with literally just a phone – someone can make music, write a book, start a business with this device that fits in your pocket! So I think for those two reasons, you're going to see this sort of individual creator revolution.’
Do you think, though, that it will lead to more failure? Because, right now, there's a certain amount of funds that you need to start a company, to hire a programmer etc, and that carries with it a bit of risk that not everybody can take on. So, if you democratise it even more, it might lead to everybody and their cousin starting a business, but they might not all have the chops to do so.
‘But that's great. Who cares? You know, like the way I look at it is, of course there will be more failure. We should have a thousand times more companies started, and you're probably going to have a thousand times more failures. But also a thousand times more winners. And think about how incredible the world would be if you had a thousand more winners and a thousand more brands that were interesting. A thousand more companies that were building useful tools. A thousand more people were thinking about how the world could be better. That's a better world for everybody.
‘So, one way of thinking about it is to consider Instagram. It used to be that before Instagram to be a photographer, you needed to be a professional. And way back in the day, you literally needed to develop the film yourself. So you weren't just a photographer, you were a developer and a chemist. And then Kodak came around and made developing easier so it further democratised it. But the cost is still prohibitive. Fast-forward and Instagram lets you take a thousand pictures a day on your phone for free. People are doing it a million times more than ever and we're consuming images at a fast rate. So, are there more crappy photographers? Absolutely. There's a million times more crappy photographers, but there's also a million times more good photographers and we're all collectively getting better on a daily basis at doing it.
‘The thing that people don't realise is entrepreneurship isn't some innate skill, it is a practice like any other. And the more that you can build that muscle, there’s a higher likelihood that you're going to find success. So, yeah, you have more failures, but failure is the driver of future success. It's how we actually practise. If we could build this muscle in a sort of hyperscale and hyperspeed, you're going to end up with a generation of people who are much better at creating things and bringing things into the world. I would argue that the reason why the rate of failure is so high is because this muscle is incredibly undeveloped and we don't have the resources and the ability to actually flex it out in a low-stakes way. So, yes, I think you see a lot more failure. I think I see a lot more success.
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