Country as a Paradox

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Yesterday I and Sofi visited two great achievements of Californian pioneering spirit. Singularity University was founded by two extraordinary futurist, Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil, placed in NASA premises here in Silicon Valley. Its purpose is to highlight how global predicaments of our time like environmental crisis or food shortage could be dealt with applying right kind of technologies. To tackle these issues, they run educational courses and living labs where they draw fortune 500 companies but also individuals all around the world. It is not an ordinary university but a benefit corporation, a new legal form made possible in California.  The 10 week summer course their run got last time 15 000 applicants out of which they chose 80 to participate. It is really a new kind of learning platform that shows the way how from outside existing university structures can rise something which breaks the old code and creates opportunity for new kind of collaboration. IMG_1644

Pixar studios is another creation of Steve Jobs. Close to San Francisco, it has drawn world creative talents to produce impeccable animated feature films, and huge amount of software with it. We  met Mark Adams, who join Pixar in early nineties while Steve Jobs was still on the board and Toy Story, the world first long film done with computer was made. All the activity in Pixar is arranged to facilitate the work of creative artists. Everybody in the staff, starting from the doorman have a say how next film should look like since everybody has artistic talents. No dirty tricks to draw attention, all films can be watched by all family. As Mark described it to us, in the end it is about the science of human emotions: with the means of animation, where simple drawings are developed to fantastic digital sceneries, they create stories that are immensely popular, just because they talk directly to human senses of belonging.

These are but two examples of how fascinating place California is. In the same California, I watch the trains that take people from Silicon Valley locations to San Francisco.  They have the approximately the same look as the trains we in Finland used to have in the 1980's. The heating system of the million dollar house we are living in Palo Alto resembles the kind of technology Valmet was producing in the 1970's. When you go to shower using again probably 40 year old  technology you wonder have Oras salesmen ever realized that they have a huge market here. Moreover, California is running out of fresh water. Its energy infra system looks the same as when it was established in the 1950's and 1960's.  The roads here equal roads in India, although in Delhi you can find much better quality. And so on...

Clotaire Rapaille, a french anthropologist turned to market guru, once described that the code of american culture is  adolescence. Nowhere it can be seen better than here in California, where everything is possible but still your room looks like a mess as with any adolescent boy.  As such,  this is a land of true paradox.  But is the future of this kind of country? As with our adolescents, we really don't know but we are concerned...