We’re the tree. (Justin Rosenstein)

This quote is from Justin Rosenstein, Co-Founder of Asana, One Project, which I heard on the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma.

We live in a world in which a tree is worth more financially dead than alive; in a world in which a whale is worth more dead than alive. For so long as our economy works in that way, and corporations go unregulated, they’re going to continue to destroy trees; to kill whales; to mine the earth; and to continue to pull oil out of the ground, even thought we know it is destroying the planet, and we know it is going to leave a worse world for future generations.

This is short term thinking based on this religion of “profit at all costs” as if somehow magically, each corporation acting in its selfish interests is going to produce the best result.

This has been affecting the environment for a long time. What’s frightening, and what hopefully is the last straw that will make us wake up as a civilization to how flawed this theory has been in the first place is to see that now, we’re the tree. We’re the whale. Our attention can be mined. We are more profitable to a corporation if we’re spending time staring at a screen; staring at an ad, than if we’re spending that time living our life in a rich way.

And so we’re seeing the results of that. We’re seeing corporations use powerful artificial intelligence to outsmart us and figure out how to pull our attention towards the things they want us to look at, rather than the things that are most consistent with our goals, and our values.