#NoDriver #NoResponsibility?


Ok, so I was walking along in mountain view today having a chat with a friend and I turned and ran down the road to get this snap of the first damn self driving car I have seen on the actual roads, actually driving itself with a dude sitting in for safety testing purposes.

Pretty cool, pretty unknown, lots of questions.

Turns out they are pretty new and this article from today shows the beginning of where it gets complicated, when there is a crash!! http://www.businessinsider.com/r-two-rival-self-driving-cars-have-close-call-in-california-2015-6

My dear friend Justin and I were chewing the fat just a couple weeks ago, drinking beer and thinking through the implications of self driving cars, as this is one of the first big consumer facing philosophically problematic scenarios, the first of OH SO MANY to come.

A self driving car will crash at some point, someone will die and there will be out cry in the media but then the stats will bubble up and win out showing that even though it is a tragedy someone died and they will thoroughly investigate, that many lives are being saved everyday because self driving cars are X times better and safer than people drivers.

The problem for me comes when you think about the decision making algorithms that will choose whether to swerve to miss the child on the bike in favor of hitting the granny who google estimated only had 6 weeks left to live based on other personal data they had on her so was for the greater good to do so. big responsibility for a programmer.

See in a manually driven world, we are clear on who to punish, generally the driver who was not paying attention / breaking the rules, rarely ever the manufacturer.

 But are we going to send the programmer to prison for writing the algorithm that meant I sat in my self driving car and hit and killed a granny?

Where machines are interacting in our daily lives and taking the risks on our behalf who becomes liable and who is governing the ethics committee by which we instruct the programmers to design the algorithm that giveth and and taketh away the grannies life?

I haven’t really got any answers yet, so keen to hear your ideas, I am sure someone has thought about this and made some rules, but are they good? Are they being designed to defend the corporate structures that are increasing their responsibility for handling risk in daily lives or being designed to serve and free the people?

I don’t know, but I cant wait to get in one, I can tell you that much 🙂

The Triple Effect of Giving

Literally 30 minutes before I sat down to write this blog for you, a guy with a massive grey beard and a trolley full of stuff living on the streets in Menlo Park said to me, ‘you got any cash so I can go get some food?’ I opened my wallet, and said ‘no man, I would, but I am sorry I’ve got nothing on me’ In a gracious and loving tone he said to me ‘Don’t be sorry, be happy!’ I smiled and went on with my walk to Palo Alto.

This guy tried to engage me, I accepted his engagement but couldn’t fulfil his material need easily, but somehow I left that moment richer than I entered it, and I hope he did too. Weird how that happens. Even if I was able to give him a couple of bucks I am still convinced I would have created more value in the world than the successful transaction I just made spending $2.50 on this Water at Starbucks! – Man stuff is expensive here in the Silicon Valley.

Screenshot 2015-06-19 12.11.15

Not all things of value have obvious effects that can be measured, quantified and then optimised for but thankfully we are getting better and better at understanding ‘Why we give, Why it feels good to give and Why it is good to give!’

I have spent the last few years finding the worlds leading experts in giving from their relative fields and I what I have found is truly inspiring,

It starts with the homeless man and the Starbucks drink, what is it that makes us choose between giving, saving or spending our money? Well Sarah Smith the Economics Professor at Bristol University says in my interview with her that social endorsement and matching make a massive difference in our propensity to give

Dr Smith takes the time to critique my hypothesis that giving little and often creates the maximum utility and larger one of donations have diminishing returns http://bit.ly/1QJlNU1on her CMPO blog. Sarah and her contemporaries within the progressive world of Micro-Applied Economics sometimes known as behavioural economics have come to accept that there is a utility gained though altruistic actions known as The Warm Glow http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warm-glow_giving , Coined by James Andreoni. But even in the pockets of progressive economic theories that go beyond the Homo-Economicus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_economicus rational expectations of human behaviour there is still a belief that the Warm Glow is still largely unaccounted for.

But I travelled across the pond to speak with Jim Doty A Neuroscientist at Stanford Medicine, and Chairman of the Dalai Lama foundation who has spent 30 years studying exactly that – The neuro-chemical effects of altruism on the brain. In my interview with him he unpacks the evolutionary pay off that we receive from giving with altruistic intent that sets off the same reward circuitry as sex, chocolate and drugs and has been proven that a lifestyle of giving can actually help us live much longer!

But does Giving actually have an impact on society or is it just a neuro-chemical indulgence like chocolate, Back in London I met with Michael Green the CEO of the http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/ and Author of Philanthrocapitalism who explains the effective use of philanthropy as societies risk capital and that his biggest critique of philanthropy is that ‘we don’t take enough risk’. Giving as a form of capital is about following your passion to use unaccountable capital to fund projects that the government or institutions could not in order to derisk them to allow partners to help the solutions scale and eventually solve the problem.

But that leaves me with a problem, in this world that is moving crazy fast and tech innovation blowing stuff up, what values are important to ensure we are building and supporting the right kinds of infastructure in the data centric, digital age. Dr Lucy Bernholz PhD a member of the Stanford Centre for Philanthropy and Civil Society and author of celebrated http://philanthropy.blogspot.com shared with me in our conversation that respecting data like you would a friend in conversation is the root of a successful future digital civil society

To top it off, to make sure I wasn’t getting caught in the weeds I met up with long time friend, mother nature herself, Jane Goodall at Windsor Castle no less! To ensure that we weren’t looking at this with too small, or short term a lens. Dr Goodall Impressed upon me the fact that the world has never been in worse shape across the board and that we desperately need a reframing towards a more ‘giving’ mindset. Jane delivers this beautifully with over 1 million young people around the world participating in her https://www.rootsandshoots.org/ program

So then my question is if it so good for us, our social norm and society at large why don’t we do it more?

We are living in times where attention is the economy, we can connect to anything, anytime, anywhere but we only connect to things we become aware of.
Multibillion dollar corporations are experts in getting our attention and helping us build sufficient connection with their products and services that we end up transferring value to them, The consumeristic machine has insane momentum and infrastructure behind it and the Giving Economy has almost NOTHING. This means we have to play the attention game to get giving on our agendas, in the strategic plans for businesses, governments and individuals. Religious gatherings have provided us with many important values and social norms around giving, forgiveness and contemplation for generations and in our post religious society we need to find other mechanisms to instill this vital behaviour into our system 1 psyche as per Mr Kahneman’s beautiful articulation of how we consider decision making in Thinking Fast and Slow http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

There is incredible value in the giving economy, most of which cannot yet be articulated by our state of the art in any of the sciences, however I am glad to see that there are three effects that can be measured, optimized and account for to observe some of the value created in giving’s affect.

1. The True Effect – The Neuro-chemical individual effect of giving with Altruistic intent, measured through FMRI machines http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_magnetic_resonance_imaging
2. The Social Effect – The Social Endorsement Impact of seeing others in your community respond (in a non-competitive, non-transaction focused method) to needs, measured by the viral Co-efficient http://nichevertising.com/viral-coefficient-calculator/
3. The Capital Effect – The Societal effect of the capital deployed into the social problem which is best expressed through http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/data/spi in an attempt to obtain Collective Aristotlean Eudaimonia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eudaimonia

These 3 effects – The Triple Effect of Giving are not present in any other form of value transfer and make every $1 injected into the system invaluable to our society.

I will gladly hand deliver $100 to any person who can provide me evidence that there is a more affective way to spend $1 than gifting it with altruistic intent in a social setting to a progressive, problem solving compassionate project.

NOTE : I absolutely believe giving first and foremost an ‘Affective’ act that creates measurable ‘Effects’. See Affective VS Effective. But I prefer sticking to talking about what can be measured and built upon rather than getting lost in more theoretical debates around unquantifiable causality and value creation, its more fun and we get more done that way:-)

So what are we at Givey doing about this?

Building a habit forming daily ritual giving platform that reminds us to connect with empathy, then compassionately act with kindness in the moment. reframing our experience of the world around us into a more creative, responsive experience and making businesses pick up the tab instead of you or charities

Put simply, anytime you see anything on the internet that moves you we let you donate instantly for free and share that moment with your friends to inspire them to give too.

At Digital Shoreditch in London a few weeks ago I presented the results of our workplace giving experiment with Ogilvy London where we saw 5x the amount of givers and 10x the amount of donations through our ‘ Instant Matching platform compared with any workplace giving solution they have ever used – Pretty awesome! but more exciting than that we observed our first evidence that Givey is working and donations are making ‘The Hop’ through the social networks.

The current online fundraising websites only cater for first order connections as the donation is linked to your friend doing an event it means there is close to 100% drop off past one friendship connection.
Givey’s platform is designed to allow donations linked to digital content to spread like wildfire across the web, unleashing a whole new giving experience for individuals, new revenue stream for charities and new way to engage with employees for businesses! Every donor automatically becomes a mini-fundraiser which creates a new epicentre which allows ‘The Hop’ to occur.

Screenshot 2015-06-19 12.16.06

The amazing fact is that we are beginning to see 2nd order donations of greater value than the first!!! This is no small thing and on the basis of our progress we are likely no more than weeks away from lighting a compassionate fire in our digital worlds which businesses will be desperate to be a part of.

We are taking phenomena like #ALS ice bucket challenge which raised $100m in 30 days and systemising it into a replicable, easy, everyday activity.

That is the Science of Givey as best as I can describe it!
Hopefully one day givey will help me to be able to do more to help the homeless guy in Menlo park without having any cash on me.

Thank you for reading!
I would love you to join us @ http://givey.com

Feel free to reblog this if you want to share to your audience just link to https://archive.daveerasmus.com/the-triple-effect-of-giving

Out of Words

I am always trying to push myself to do the stuff that feels difficult but feels like if could have a unique result.

There is a lot of good stuff we could all be doing, but what is the one thing that only you or only I, could or would do?

Recently I have really enjoyed learning the basics of some non verbal forms of communication and expression. In our ever increasing global world I think non verbal communication (which is the majority of our communication) will become more valuable. I think we can see that even through things like the adoption of the emoji libraries on apple products, which I have been getting educated on recently 🙂

It would not surprise me if a global form of sign language was adopted and taught more widely to supplement the mother tongue rather than english or another verbal second language.  In many circumstances it would unlock more value and create more common ground if we recognised non verbal languages as a valid second language over another regional verbal language. Especially with the proliferation of visual streaming allowing non verbal interactions to happen at a distance.

 I have been learning to dance freely (without a partner, alcohol or comedy 🙂 earning to express through lead guitar and seperately I have been trying some spoken word, and I have always enjoyed a little singing,

I wanted to see if I could find a way to blend these different interests to communicate something of this interest in a more holistic way of communicating things that I find my english language insufficient to describe.

This is not the final product but just the first attempt, I think I look a little like a stalker and its all a bit intense but I wanted to show you my working as I will never get to something special if I am not comfortable just taking the next step, also I may never get to a place where I am happy with the result so I may as well start sharing now!

I think our unique value to offer the world often comes from taking two or three interests or defining features about us and finding a way to weave them together to do something no-one-else would do.

I am finally giving myself permission to create without filtering, and letting my desire to create supersede my desire not to be sniggered at or misunderstood, and therefore just contribute what I can

I would love to know what your threads are and what experiments you doing that are a bit awkward to try and move along to the next step in your journey!

Thanks for reading!


Reading Wikipedia’s notes on Serendipity are interesting,

Various thoughts describing ‘A pleasant surprise’

This was an experience I had in February in Havana, Cuba which I could only describe as Serendipitous, after only a couple hours of arriving, and 5 minutes after meeting 2 men with a guitar and a bottle of rum on the street, the following happened, and trigger finger Louis caught it on camera.

No sooner had we started our first impromptu salsa lesson and singing our first song did a choir of 8 other random people arrive all singing and dancing at the exact right time! – I get the goosies when I think about it.

Now you could call this random, it’s random that a guy had a guitar, it’s random that people knew the song, it’s random that louis had his camera on at that moment…or is it?

Sometimes the stars align and these are the moments we crave for. We certainly cannot control or manufacture them but we sure can optimise for them, internally and externally.

Think about fishing, finding a partner or playing poker. All of these activities sure need a special unexpected ‘pleasant surprise’ but the fact is, if you are fishing in a bathtub, looking to find a wife on grindr or playing poker with your eyes shut you are minimising the chances for serendipity.

The reality is that certain spaces are designed for certain behaviours and activities, and our decisions are far more conditioned by our environments than we would like to admit.

Cuba’s communist economy means that my 30 minute taxi ride to the airport cost more than the driver earns in a day and more than his wife earns being a teacher in a month! This along with government controls and the US trade embargo means that people are not addicted to consumerism and the mutant form of capitalism we have come to accept as somewhat normal. This means people don’t work too hard which means they have time to create, which means I found it to be the most culturally rich place I have ever been on the planet. With dancing, music and art coming out of every corner of the city.

I had never heard the spanish song our guy was playing but I now know it is called ‘Bailando’ by Enrique Inglesias which means dance in spanish. In the last year on youtube this song has had 900,385,902 people watch it! Almost a billion views, and Its narrative plays straight to the core of the dominant culture in the spanish speaking land of Cuba.

When the economic system, the cultural narrative and the social consciousness are all aligned you have the external conditions for a serendipitous moment to occur. Combine that with camera ready, travelling content makers, Louis, Raya and Myself, ready to say yes to opportunity and conditions are perfect for magic to happen.

Was this a random event? or was it to be expected?

I would say it is in the air, this was Cuba making moments it has been designed to make, and everyone enjoyed playing their part naturally and beautifully.

I could bore you with many stories of why I think that the culture of your environment matters a lot in creating serendipity to lead to something special but instead I just want to tell you about the awesome day I had yesterday that I think is a fair example of the dominant themes in San Francisco.

I started the day on the 45 minute caltrain journey writing the full lyrics to a track a producer friend had sent me the day before.  My first meeting was with @12_fps studio discussing a project that Louis and I are planning in a couple of weeks, this awesome conversation with Dwight led in 5 different directions, with loads of connections from accommodation to startup advice to showing him the track and lyrics, it also led him to giving me a lift to my next meetings at Salesforce.com.  A completely different space yet with the energy he gave me I was feeling good and it turns out that the exec I was meeting is married to a musician so was happy to hear about my creative projects as well as discussing some seriously awesome ideas to scale Givey in the US and UK. Leaving this meeting even more pumped with momentum I text Dwight saying ‘hey do you happen to be around tonight to record the track?

He said yes! He pulled in @trapexoid and a few beers and we made something happen, it was difficult, the first time I have tried laying words to a track in a studio but they are pro’s and we wiggled through, and it felt amazing to get this whole thing done in a day, AND it made me better in my business meetings!!!

(The track is done but I can’t show you as the original hasn’t even come out yet – I will update the blog when I can show you for sure)

For me, this is serendipity.

Being able to explore my creative side, and develop our business with the right partners in the right place. It is a beautiful thing when every part of who you are helps you make progress and build momentum rather than feeling if I am doing anything other than obvious business then I am being lazy or distracted.

It seems to me that the optimum conditions for serendipity, are firstly ‘internally’ when we pursue our passions, and relationships and put ourselves on the line for the things we care about and secondly, ‘externally’ when we place ourselves in an environment that is designed to produce things we are aiming towards.

This is not the first goosebump day I have had in SF and I am doubtful it is the last as it is not random or even a pleasant surprise that amazing productive things are happening as I am lucky enough to be currently experiencing optimum conditions both internally and externally for serendipity.

Long may it continue 🙂

Thanks for reading this long ass piece!