My guest this week is Albert Wenger, a managing partner at Union Square Ventures and the author of the book World After Capital. Albert studied economics at Harvard and earned a PhD in information from technology, but if you’d asked me to guess before looking those up, I’d have guessed that he studied philosophy because of how widely he has thought about the world and the impact of technology. Our conversation is about how technology is changing the world from an Industrial Age to a knowledge age. We explore how cryptocurrencies, low cost computing, and regulation will impact our future and why the transition may require delicate care. I loved this conversation because of my obsession with the concept of scarcity. We explore what has been scarce through time and what may be scarce in the future. Albert is one of the most interesting thinkers I’ve come across and was a pleasure to speak with. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Hash Power is presented by Fidelity Investments For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag Links Referenced World After Capital Show Notes 2:16 – (First Question) – Defining what it means to be human 2:58 – World After Capital 3:56 – Trans-humans vs neo-humans 4:37 – The concept of Qualia 5:25 – Albert’s investment philosophy= 8:27 – How Albert began his exploration into cryptocurrencies 12:59 – Most exciting things blockchains could enable 14:27 – How does Albert view blockchain technology from the view of an venture capital investor 17:00 - Why Albert thinks that the dominate cryptocurrency of our time may not exist just yet and what he is looking for in protocols that will become the leader in the space 20:16 – What are the central functions that will be important in cryptocurrencies 21:22 - The state of regulation in the cryptocurrency space 27:37 – What has Albert most excited for the future of blockchain 29:10 – The idea of universal basic income 32:26 – How do you solve the problem of giving money value in a world of universal basic income 35:00 – How scarcity has changed over time 39:01 – Role of financial capital in the last 200 years of civilization 42:39 – Are we as a society only capable of solving problems once they become an immediate threat 44:15 – Explaining the idea of attention as a scarce resource 47:56 – The two key drivers of change; zero marginal cost distribution and universality of computational power 53:13 - What should we as investors and inventors be focusing on as the new objective function 57:24 – Scariest aspect of this transition into the knowledge age 59:45 – Three basic freedoms we all seek; informational, economic, psychological 1:02:13 – Fermi’s paradox and the scarcity of attention 1:02:56 – How Albert thinks about his own day and wellbeing given all of this information 1:05:01 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Albert Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag
Listen Here: iTunes | Overcast Albert Wenger is a partner at Union Square Ventures. Before joining USV, Albert was the president of del.icio.us through the company’s sale to Yahoo and an angel investor in Etsy and Tumblr. He previously founded or co-founded several companies, including a management consulting firm and an early hosted data analytics company. Albert graduated from Harvard College, where he studied economics and computer science and holds a Ph.D. in Information Technology from MIT. In this episode, we talk about what it was like to grow up in Germany, where Albert received an Apple II at a young age. As a teenager, Albert visited America for the first time when he stayed with a family in Rochester, Minnesota — the most impactful travel experience of his life. We talk about how technological progress has shifted scarcity for humanity. When we were foragers, food was scarce. During the agrarian age, it was land. Following the industrial revolution, capital became scarce. With digital technologies, scarcity is shifting once more. We need to figure out how to live in a World After Capital — the title of Albert’s new book — where the only scarcity is our attention. Links: World After Capital Future of the Nation State Decentralization and the Knowledge Age Albert Wenger Twitter Books: Grit Three Body Problem Thinking, Fast & Slow Antifragile Seveneves Beginning of Infinity Please leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one
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