Liberty through Innovation


“Liberty through innovation and innovation through liberty”

Lately, I thought of this statement as a concise way to summarize my beliefs. Basically, I believe that innovation and technological progress is an enabler of liberty. Throughout time, ownership of the means of production has been synonymous for freedom. If you have the means to provide for yourself, you can’t be oppressed by any mechanism except explicit force - if you have a terrible boss/leader, you can simply leave your job/country. If enough people have this option, it becomes quite difficult for those in power to screw you over, and so they end up screwing you over less.

In Thomas Jefferson’s time, the means of production was agriculture, and so for people to be “free” they needed to own land. For most of human history this was true, until the industrial revolution happened, when the means of production changed from agriculture to industrial factories. Inequalities created during that revolution prompted thinkers like Karl Marx to promote “seizing the means of production”. The means of production lately has meant technology, rather than physical goods or land (in which we have figures like Richard Stallman calling to seize the means of technological production).

Technology has one important property that separates it from agriculture and industrialism - technology is a non-zero sum game. There is only so much farmable land and there is only so much we can practically manufacture, but there is no limit to how much technology humanity can create.

On a low-level, technology increases production without increasing number of workers (not necessarily tied to wages). As we get better and better at technology, we will someday see an inflection point where the surplus of our production can fulfill the basic needs of everyone in the world, and depending on who you talk to, this inflection point may have already happened. This surplus has the ability to free anyone and everyone from their own basic needs, but getting there becomes more of a political problem that I'm not qualified to talk about.

However, on a personal level, this does mean you can leverage technology yourself to increase your own production in a very disproportionate way, which is essentially the entire thesis of Silicon Valley. You only really need to win this game once to immediately retire and spend the rest of your days doing whatever you want (usually people decide to keep playing the value creation game once they do it, though). This process entirely depends on your ability to access the means of technological production.

Technology is the most powerful means of liberty, both in a political sense and in a personal sense. Technological development, as a means of liberation, is dependent on access to tools.

We’re all in this together, and I am hell-bent on giving everyone the opportunity to access the biotechnological tools they need to ensure their own freedoms. While some will use this power selfishly, I hope we can create a culture of sharing and acting for the greater good - may we ‘promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity’.

Keoni Gandall