At work recently I feel like I have been unceasingly finding IT to be in my way. Anyone else feel like this? I find myself venting, “IT holds our work hostage,” in an effort to describe how unproductive the action of “including them” in a project can be. Just this morning I said, “Name one other area of life where the professional level is worse than personal level.” I was serious.
Pilots fly much better planes in their professional endeavors than their personal lives. If I want to drive a race car, then by definition it is going to be better than my Nissan. Unless you’re me, the piano you play for a professional gig is going to be better than the one you own. And on and on. But the internet? Worse at work. The hard-drive? Worse at work. Getting IT to help? Worse at work. IT departments hold our work hostage.
Anyhow, the eureka moment occurred as I read about Bill Gates in the WSJ today. Classic puff piece. Really, more than that. More than a puff piece, more than a book advertisement, it was propaganda.
But it got me thinking, why does Mr. Gates think that a private citizen can understand the following?
“The planet must reduce the amount of greenhouse emissions being pumped into the atmosphere, currently about 51 billion tons per year, to zero by 2050. Nothing less, he says, will prevent a catastrophe, and he is calling for a full-scale technological revolution to make it happen.”
I like to believe I am very well read, and I simply can’t understand it. For example, what is a “greenhouse emission”? What is “pumped”? Where does the atmosphere start and stop for this claim? What tool is capable of measuring “51 billion tons per year”?
And I have a question of my own: Does Gates understand the meaning of “extrapolation”? Because I suspect that he is extrapolating at some point. And that’s no tool. And this leads me to believe that I don’t think he has such a measurement tool.
These days in my own attempts to understand everything, I fight off the notion that it’s impossible. But the fact that the notion (‘it’s impossible’) is in my mind, I take to mean that it is impossible to understand everything. Bill Gates doesn’t seem to have this inner debate. He thinks we can understand everything and then solve every problem. Why? What evidence does he have? None. Zero. So he changes the game. It’s not about solving every problem. It’s about solving his problem. And he cons us into thinking his problem is our problem.
Here is something that helps me understand his perspective. And this is the eureka moment. He thinks everything and everyone is just a data point to be counted. And when someone thinks this, their goal shifts from traditional human goals having to do with quality of life, to new goals—counting goals—like, keeping on the power to the counting machine. (Inverse way of describing his fight to stop climate change and the end of the world.)
Put another way, the man who invented the biggest, fastest counting machine thinks we should do everything we can, sacrifice anything, and pay anything in order to keep his counting machine powered.
It’s ridiculous. But I finally see it.
Get it? I do. Hopefully you can see it even if you disagree. (Or even if you agree with his priorities—clarity is a small goal of mine here.)
As for me, I’m just happy to have achieved some level of understanding regarding the man and his motivations (and also understand those of you who want to likewise be viewed as smart). And I’m happy to be a religious man (not a droid). And I’m happy to know the secret to stopping him—turn off the computer.
Mr. Gates will be seen as the nutjob that he is when 2051 happens uneventfully. (Anyone claiming that they are speaking coherently when they talk about “measuring 51 billion tons per year” qualifies as nutty.)
Are you going to celebrate with me? I sure hope so.