Blog: Is this the best we can do?
A manifesto for the personal computer
I remember the exact moment I quit my job at Google: September 2nd, 2016 at 8:23 PM.
I’m in my Palo Alto apartment. Feeling dispirited as I sit in front of a computer screen attempting to shake off the long work week. The famed Project Ara had shut down recently and I was tasked to find a new team within Google. I open up notes on my Mac and began to write…
it’s hard to type
when the words are nothing
when your heart feels nothing
when you have lost your motivation
hope there is life at the end
and the suffering is not wasted
but your source of inspiration
stay true share love
I sit back in my chair. And with a depressed sigh I ask myself what the fuck is even the point. By all means, I had made it. High school delinquent turned college dropout transformed into technology industrialist. With my quarter of a million dollar compensation package, I’m the elite now. But to what end. Was managing astronomical budgets to sell a device that was going to be outdated in a year the best I could do?
More importantly, is it really the best we can do?
The day I quit Google also happens to be the day I started Maslo. Our idea is simple: we build empathy into the technology that surrounds us. Not to lead us to be manipulated, but to encourage emotional fluency, self awareness, and personal growth — in every person. The benefits of these intangibles are well documented however have yet to be adopted in a technological sense.
I’ve learned that others are not as inclined to take action. Over the last two years I have met, pitched, and been dismissed by well over 200 VC’s with a polite ‘you’re too early’ or ‘I dont get it”. Rejected by the National Science Foundation twice. And turned away by many others who have met success.
The thing they fail to see is that the promise of the personal computer is incomplete. Computers should be tools for personal awareness, personal curiosity, and personal growth. We’ve outlined how we’ll create this new genre of tech in several posts and plans and we can’t do this alone.
Maslo is for the ones that can show up, week after week, failure after failure, there and back again. The ones who, every day, have to find a reason for themselves. They’re not influenced by parents, partners, or their own self doubt. And to that end, their legacy becomes more than a good intention, but real momentum towards a better world.
If life really is about the caring of others, then it should actually be about that in all aspects.
If intelligence, whether artificial or not, is about the ability to sense and respond to change in complex environments, then we should do that in all aspects. We should assume that computers are capable of responding to the world as humans do, and instead of “building” tech and AI — we should grow it, guide it, and empower it to be the best that it can be.
The next renaissance of personal growth won’t be traditionally monetized. Technology can become a tool that guides us towards a greater awareness of self, coaching and motivating us along the way so that we can grow into people living their best life possible. This begins by designing technology with empathy. Join us.
I’m at my desk. I stand up and walk to the kitchen and catch the reflection of my face in the microwave glass. “If food delivery services, app-taxis, ad-based social media, and video conferencing is really the best that Silicon Valley can do, then the world is already a hopeless place.”
I take a long look in the microwave-mirror and contemplate my legacy. It would be three months before I stopped receiving a paycheck, but my mind is made up.