By Yaron Brook and Onkar Ghate
CNN, September 16, 2010
Edited by Andy Ross
The scientific method advanced human knowledge. Then industrialists brought
us a mind-boggling array of inventions and products. We need a third
revolution, in ethics.
The scientists did not demonstrate the
superiority of faith. The industrialists did not proclaim the superiority of
collective sacrifice. Why should we think these ideas are the path to moral
If morality is judgment to discern the truth and
courage to act on it and make something of and for your own life, then the
great creators are moral exemplars. If morality is a guide in the quest to
achieve your own happiness by creating the values of mind and body that make
a successful life, then morality is about personal profit, not its
Monetary profit is an eloquent representative of
morality, because making money requires a profound dedication to material
Science, freedom and the pursuit of personal profit — if
we can learn to embrace these three ideas as ideals, an unlimited future
Just Manic Enough
The New York Times, September 19, 2010
Edited by Andy Ross
Imagine you are a venture capitalist. One day a man comes to you and says,
“I want to build the game layer on top of the world.”
The man has a
passionate speech about a business plan that he says will change the planet
by giving humans a new way to interact with businesses and one another. He
displays the symptoms of a hypomanic episode.
If he is Seth
Priebatsch, you give him a big check. A thin line separates the temperament
of a promising entrepreneur from a person who could use psychiatric help.
Men like Seth Priebatsch are just crazy enough.
dropped out of Princeton to start Scvngr in 2009. Scvngr today has 60
employees. As of December 2009, it also had $4 million from Google Ventures.
"We play games all the time, right? School is a
game. It's just a very badly designed game."
"If we can bring game
dynamics to the world, the world will be more fun, more rewarding, we'll be
more connected to our friends, people will change their behavior to be
"The last decade was the decade where the social framework
was built. The next decade will be the decade of games."
The Hypomanic Edge
The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot
of) Success in America
By John D. Gartner
Simon & Schuster (2005)
Greed Is Back
The Sunday Times, September 19, 2010
Edited by Andy Ross
Remember Gordon Gekko: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is
right. Greed works."
Well, he's back: "Money lies in bed with you at
night, pal, one eye open. Money's a bitch that never sleeps."
more than two decades since we encountered Gekko in Oliver Stone's 1987
classic, Wall Street. Now, in Money Never Sleeps, again starring Michael
Douglas, we rejoin Gekko as he emerges from a jail term for insider trading,
securities fraud, and money laundering.
What ate at Gekko during
those years in jail was being out of the game. For him, "the game is all
To this day, financiers approach Michael Douglas on the
street or in restaurants to slap him on the back and tell him: "You’re the
single biggest reason I got into the business. I watched Wall Street and I
wanted to be Gordon Gekko. You're the man!"
AR I guess you can see
that Brook and Ghate are Randians: the rejoinder to their view that works
best for me is to point out that a selfish outlook in which the circle of
the self embraces less than the whole is doomed to suboptimality, so the
more traditional approach of encouraging selflessness is a more morally
productive enabling strategy.
As for looking out for hypomania in
wannabe entrepreneurs, who ever doubted that it's a trait that can help you
get ahead? The obvious adaptive value of the symptoms of hypomania for a
competitive world seems a natural explanation for the persistence of the
tendency toward bipolarity in the evolution of human personality traits.
That Wall Street hotshots ("masters of the universe" — no, guys, that's
cosmologists) model themselves on Gordon Gekko surprises me not one jot or
tittle. Surprising would be if they showed the sense to look higher for role
models. By the way, it sounds like Oliver Stone has hired Martin Amis to
write the Money Never Sleeps script.