My wishes for 2020
When I was a kid, I looked at 2020 as the year when the real future would start. Hypersonic flight would be available to everyone, 3 times faster than what we already had: Concorde. In medicine, a radiation-free full body scan would be a standard monthly check-up. Nuclear fusion would produce all the clean energy needed. Education would be personalized and the best teachers would be the most celebrated and richest people on the planet. An even larger European Union and the United States would already have become a single entity, welcoming all the other countries one by one every year into a bigger nation called Mother Earth. United, we would have created a spaceship capable of reaching the next habitable planet in just 20 years, so as to surprise our strange neighbors. And yes, we would be so proud to be able to visit them before they had the technology to come to us.
It is now 2020 and, with the exception of the incredible achievement of the Internet, the future I imagined is not yet here.
That was just the future dreamed of by one boy. Everyone had a different view of the future, but what I know for sure is that some of the things we have worked on were in no one’s dreams. Today, my hope is that we will finally start using our intelligence, our determination and our resilience to build the future we want.
Not another social network or game that leverages cognitive addiction to increase how much time we spend on it, not a new quantitative hedge fund or a gambling platform to move money around without creating any wealth, not a new smart way to absorb nicotine, alcohol or drugs, not a new product that addresses the fears that someone else has artificially injected into our brains, and certainly not new machines designed to replace or, even worse, kill humans.
I know that these words apply to the areas some of my friends work in, but I am sure they will forgive me this time.
I hope you will not leverage human weakness. I hope you will not invest your brilliant mind in giving people just what they want.
I hope you will find the courage to invest your time in creating magical tools that will make our world a better place, tools that help people to help other people, tools that can create enduring happiness for those who come after us.
I hope you will decide to join companies that embrace these missions and leave the mediocre ones that don’t. There, I hope you will invent better education, better food, better medicine, better transportation, better energy, better working conditions, a better way to organize society, a better way to explore the universe, and better solutions to the problems that separate us from the future you dreamed of as a young person.
It is not just about big ideas from a few people; more than anything else, it’s about a large quantity of small ideas coming from everyone, but moving in the right direction.
I will contribute by investing money and supporting people with positive ideas. I will also keep working hard on what I think is an important problem, and one that I love: language translation. With my colleagues, we will keep designing a passionate human-computer symbiosis. Increasingly creative human translators supported by machines and machines that learn from human corrections. A human-centered path to one day provide instant high-quality translation for free to everyone. For a future where everyone will understand and be understood while using their own language. I will work hard to make that path a safe adventure for everyone who decides to join us.
There are many things that people want. My hope, for 2020 and beyond, is that you will choose the right problem to work on.
Make something you will be proud of.