Expect the Unexpected with Felix Salmon of Axios
Felix Salmon is the chief financial correspondent at Axios and the author of the new book, The Phoenix Economy: Work, Life, and Money in the New Not Normal. Circle Co-Founder, CEO, and Chairman Jeremy Allaire caught up with Felix recently to review his book’s tour of the ways the pandemic has structurally altered our lives – and our financial architecture. “We are now, I think, moving into a much more volatile world and much more unpredictable world,” Salmon notes.
Their conversation touched on:
- [3:22] – A more volatile world
- [7:49] – Profound changes
- [16:55] – The power of fiat currency
- [24:40] – Payment system innovation
- [26:26] – Russia and SWIFT
- [47:15] – Is AI just a party trick?
If you’re interested in learning more about fiscal policy, financial architecture, and navigating volatility, tune in to this episode of The Money Movement.
Felix: Expect the unexpected, expect a huge amount of downside, but also expect a huge amount of upside.
Jeremy: Hello and welcome to this new episode of The Money Movement. I'm really pleased today to be joined by Felix Salmon, who is the Chief Financial Correspondent for Axios, a longstanding and prolific journalist, covers all things markets and the economy, but really a thoughtful person on many, many topics and really excited to talk with him about a number of topics, but really anchored in his new book, The Phoenix Economy. So welcome to the program, Felix.
Felix: Thanks, Jeremy.
Jeremy: It's great to have you here. So I just thought it'd be interesting to start just with a little bit about the book as a whole. And I think you had some high-level concepts that I think are interesting, which is, we've had all of these unexpected things happen as a result of COVID. And one big theme here is the unexpected isn't over and we're still living with this huge evolution in the whole way the world works, in a sense. And in a sense, this thesis that COVID precipitated a whole new era and zooming out from a historical, epic goal perspective, like it's precipitated this whole new era. Obviously, I'm being extremely simplistic in that high-level summary, but I'd love to...
Felix: No, you nailed it, yeah.
Jeremy: Well, thank you. I'd love for you to just start with, in your words, the walkthrough, the overall, or the whole thesis here, just to kick things off.
Felix: So basically the thesis is that we had 70 years of peace and relative stability from call it 1946 to 2015. And that was an era when you could do the Warren Buffett thing, you could set your eyes on the prize and say, I'm just going to make a big leveraged bet on America being great. And you could become the richest man in the world by doing that. That was the era of long-term plans and strategy. And it turns out that if you look at history beyond the previous, 75 years, that's not how history normally works. It has rarely been the case that people have been able to make long-term plans. It has never been the case up until the most recent century that we went 100 years without a global pandemic. We are now, I think, moving into a much more volatile world, a much more unpredictable world, and one which is, in fact, more similar to the world that we had before 1945 than the world that we had after 1945. And yeah, I mean, remember that just in that span of 30 years, basically, from 1914 to 1945 we had two major seismic world wars. Gravy things can and will happen. Expect the unexpected, expect a huge amount of downside, but also expect a huge amount of upside. And one of the big optimistic, and one of the big optimistic, themes of the book, I would say, is that when you have a lot of risk, when you have a lot of volatility, the most you can lose is 100%, but the most you can gain is unlimited. And so the gains ultimately wind up often being bigger than the losses, even when the losses are enormous.
Jeremy: Yeah, it's a very compelling thesis. I think people feel it in their guts a little bit, I think, when out in the world interacting the degree of uncertainty is just, it's really deeply felt. I mean, I think we see that everywhere and a feeling of the superstructures that existed, those persistent superstructures that existed falling apart or reconfiguring or, you know, and not really knowing what's going to emerge. It sounds a little bit like some of the supercycle thesis that Ray Dalio talks about and that's very specific to the idea. the rise and fall of currencies and empires and all that, but these ethical shifts in the international economic order. But your book talks about a lot of things, right? Your book talks about health and education and arts and culture and political organization and money, which we'll come back to, touches on a lot of themes. Again, coming back to this concept of expecting dramatic, some of the dramatic changes that happened during the height of the pandemic to have these cascading implications in these eras. Maybe you could just talk for a minute about some of the biggest themes that you think we're still in the early innings of, but you feel like are part of this new era.
Felix: Yeah, so there's a lot of them. One of the ones which I'm sure we're going to come back to is the way that the dollar seems to be less of a bedrock than it used to be, it's become more politicized. But there are many others. So, the obvious one I think everyone understands is the way that work from home and remote work has changed the way we live our lives. I think people don't realize how much happier it's made us. There's been a few surveys coming out saying that never in the history of surveys have people been happier in their jobs than they are right now. But one of the things that it did is that it took a huge amount of the value that was in commercial real estate in office buildings and basically transferred it into residences. The people needed effectively office space in their residences. The way that we architect our buildings these days is much more focused on spaces where we can have privacy than it is focused on big cathedral ceilings and three-car garages and the things that we remember from the 80s and 90s and 2000s. So houses are different. And those changes last for a really long time. I tell in the book the story of the downstairs washroom. If you walk into an American house, there was an extremely good chance that shortly after you walk in the front door, there's going to be a little downstairs bathroom where you can go to the toilet and wash your hands. That didn't exist before 1918. That was a creature of the first pandemic where people were like in order to prevent the spread of germs, everyone walking into the house should wash their hands before doing anything else. And people discovered that it was actually incredibly convenient to have bathrooms downstairs. And so then that caught on and it never went away. But those profound architectural changes are definitely going to happen. I think on a more mental level, there's been an increase in compassion. I think that we all had a mini mental health crisis over the course of the pandemic. We don't all remember it because one of the symptoms of trauma is memory loss. And we have actually put a lot of the worst of the pandemic out of our minds, but we all went through it. And I think on some level, we all understand how mental health is just a really profound and important thing that shouldn't be stigmatized in the way that it historically has been. And I think that if you look at say the Prince Harry memoir, which is the fastest selling non-fiction book in the history of publishing, that one of the main reasons for that is that people really felt that they wanted to embrace someone who was talking very openly about mental health issues. So yeah, there's a bunch of these deep changes that are happening in the world, but a lot of them I don't even attempt to predict. This is not a book of predictions. It's much more a book about meta predictions of like, expect the unexpected. And we're not going to be able to know things in the future in the way that we have known things in the past. The era of true believers is probably over. And you need to be able to update your priors and be a lot more nimble these days because even if something was true yesterday, that doesn't mean that it's still true today.
Jeremy: Yeah. I think, again, feel it in the gut. It's a real feeling. I think one of the laddering off of the commentary about the restructuring of our living space and our health and the relationship we have to work, which is, I agree, totally profound and has been broadly very, very positive, at least in my survey of the people that I deal with. My company, for example, is remote. We don't have any offices. We just opened an office in Singapore, I should say, because they all wanted to go to an office in a city state, and they're all in small apartments or whatever. So there are some. But basically, it's almost people, and we're just all over the place, and it works. But... But it ties into this broader theme that you also touch on, which is the virtual existence, the digital existence, this huge acceleration and transformation in our experiences of our identities in this more accelerated digital context. And that leads into a little bit of maybe thinking about the future of money, thinking about the future of work, thinking about the future of collective interaction organization, which I really want to turn to. And I guess maybe just starting, obviously, given the overall theme of this podcast, there's a lot of discussion about people's notions of money. And we've certainly seen that. I feel like the birth of cryptocurrency some 12 years ago,13 years ago, but then the various bouts of growth in the thinking about money, prior to the past, certainly the past five years, but certainly it's accelerated over the past few years. It wasn't normal for people to be talking about Fiat. Fiat is now like a word that people use all the time. And I think largely that's existed, that's come about because alternative currency models that are not Fiat or go back to a world that's before Fiat or different iterations of Fiat, it was not a popular concept. I mean, obviously, if you studied economics, you understood it. Or monetary anything, you understood it. But not a popular concept. But now it's more popular. People throw that word around like crazy. And it is emblematic of a world where people everywhere their relationship to money is really changing. And there's generational components of that clearly that are more profound. And you talk about the level of risk taking that exists for certain generations and their relationship to money as different. But maybe just in this theme, maybe you could just talk a little bit about this relationship to the very idea of money and how that's changed for people and accelerated the change around that has accelerated. I do want to get into the dollar itself and the geoeconomics and all the global shifts and what does that mean as well. But maybe just maybe starting at this more abstract level.
Felix: Yeah, I think especially in your world, the word Fiat... is mostly used in a slightly or explicitly pejorative sense, that people think that if currency can just be created by Fiat, by the whim of a government, then in a world of high volatility in the new not normal, where governments can rise and fall, obviously, currencies can and will as well, and that there's something bad about Fiat currency. And so you do get these Bitcoin true believers and so forth who think that there's something good about...
Jeremy: The Austrian economic sound money theorists view the world so that pre-1945, it was supposed to be the gold standard. And obviously, there were deviations from that over a long period.
Felix: So yeah, so that idea that Fiat is untrustworthy. is one, obviously, as you say, that has been around a very long time. got a lot of traction during the rise of Bitcoin. But then, like, it was still largely theoretical until the pandemic hit. And then something very interesting happened during the pandemic, especially in the United States, which was that almost everyone in America woke up one morning and discovered $1400 in their bank account that wasn't there the day before. It had just magically appeared there. And the government had put it in there and they were very happy about that. And they went out and they spent it and they did crazy things with it and they bought NFTs and they had a lot of fun. And we had that crazy meme stock winter of 2021, but the weirdly magical appearance of those $1400 which didn't just happen once. It happened multiple times. They drive home to people how contingent and at the whim of the government money really is. And you could, and you could see that also in the way that the U S government and just basically vaporized the entire foreign reserve stack of Russia after invaded Ukraine. And so people are like, oh, you know, that now there are, you know, if you are in the crypto world, you're going to look at these kinds of things and think, well, that's bad. It means that Fiat currencies are weak and therefore my thing that I believe in is better in comparison. I don't think that was, broader reaction. I do think there are genuine upsides to the fact that the US Government can, is willing and able to use the dollar and its power over the dollar to prosecute fiscal policy in the face of a pandemic or foreign policy in the way in the face of Russia invading Ukraine. And it doesn't just sit there and pretend that the dollar is this immutable thing. And in fact, it goes out and uses it in the service of its aims. And in both cases, in the case of like the fiscal stimulus and in the case of punishing Russia, I think those things were broadly agreed upon by nearly all Americans. So the power of Fiat currency and the upside of having control over Fiat currency also became clear during the pandemic. And I think that and then combine that with the crypto winter, and you start to understand why whatever warm fuzzy feelings that Washington was having towards crypto pre pandemic, whatever feelings there might have been, did somewhat evaporate when they realized on some level that they actually wanted and needed the power they have over the dollar and that Fiat currencies can actually be a really good thing.
Jeremy: Yeah, I mean, clearly the global view on this has evolved a lot. And I think that's been one of the more remarkable things that I've been seeing over the past year, in particular, post the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I'll come back to the geo-economic, geopolitical things in a moment. But it's been fascinating to see everywhere in the world the conception of the political basis of money. And I think for people who cover global macro and who cover geopolitics and so on, that's been a dialogue for some time, the rise of China and its ambitions and the like. But I've just seen that whole discussion accelerate in a way that I haven't seen in a really long time. And so that's the politicization, weaponization. What are these shifting new geo-economic blocks? What does that mean? But coming back to the conceptions, it's been interesting to see. Because of inflation, again, a more general awareness of this money that came out of nowhere and created this new phenomenon, which actually is eroding wealth, more awareness on things like that. I think it's fascinating as well. It has not pierced through quite as much, but the current situation of the government's bankrupt, it's run out of money, it keeps running out of money, it keeps creating money, and we keep rising the debt ceiling, which is effectively a permission to issue more money in the form of debt. And there is more popular awareness around this, as people like to say, the dollar is the full faith and credit.
Felix: But the United States remains the global hegemon, which is precisely why the government is not bankrupt, right? The so long as you can issue unlimited amounts of debt in your own currency, you can never be bankrupt. And the debt ceiling is this ludicrous thing, which makes the serves no purpose, except for just destabilize the world ever even further. And yeah, so like, I do think again, like the debt ceiling is a reminder of how weirdly fragile and contingent all of this stuff is. But I think that one of the things we learned during the pandemic was the awesome power of fiscal policy. And I have a chapter in the book about how one of the great heroes of the pandemic was Steven Mnuchin, who's this Superhero Film Producer and superhero, Treasury Secretary, who just came out and spent trillions of dollars in a way that his predecessors during the Great Recession of 2008 were felt incapable of doing to enormously positive and successful effect. People are like, Oh, wow, like, we we have this power we can use that we should
Jeremy: The bring the Bazookas. Henry Paulson lesson learned. Let's go. Right.
Felix: Yeah, exactly. Totally.
Jeremy: Totally. Yeah. Yeah, no, very clearly. I mean, the execution of fiscal power was awesome in the face of that and clearly...
Felix: And explains and explains why Germany is in a recession right now. And because they didn't do that. And the United States has record low unemployment, just looking pretty healthy.
Jeremy: Right. Right.
Jeremy: As someone whose core business is the dollar franchise, where our reason for existence is frankly to expand and extend and drive further adoption of the dollar in what we believe is a technologically superior form. We're very dollar aligned in what we do.
Felix: I have a question for you though. Are you not really a creature of the zero interest rate environment where people didn't really care whether their dollars were earning interest or not back when interest rates were at zero and now as we've seen with Silicon Valley Bank and all the rest of it? Anything that isn't earning interest is vulnerable to a flight to stuff that is earning interest. When treasury bonds are yielding suddenly that's a huge opportunity cost of holding something that is yielding zero.
Jeremy: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think... When the cost of capital and the relative opportunity cost of that capital is zero, you just have higher velocity of money everywhere, whether it's digital currency form of money or commercial bank electronic money or any of the above. You just see this velocity that's happening. And then when you see a restrictive environment, there's more money at rest. The money at rest is parking itself in as low-risk, high return mechanism as possible. And that's obviously had an impact and drawdowns on stablecoins. But it's also had a huge impact on drawdowns on bank deposits. And you can look at that in terms of aggregate growth of money market funds in recent periods. In particular, it's been pretty dramatic. So I think that's all part of that thing. But I think, I guess our view and our approach is we're thinking about payment system, payment system innovation and fundamentally, what's the right structure for? or cash equivalent, digital cash equivalent, Fiat monetary instruments, and how those can be widely, widely used in a high-velocity way in a huge array of different financial, commercial and other applications. And that construct, which is the essence of a stablecoin, needs to be as simple and safe as possible. It should not have a lot of embedded risk. It should be the most low-risk thing possible. And only in that basis where you have the working capital, meaning capital that needs to be at work and utilized, shouldn't be in a money at rest situation. It should be in a high-velocity payment-oriented infrastructure. And so we're big believers in the separation of a base layer of money, payment systems from lending money and investment money. And so that's a broader future architecture of how to construct the financial system and banking and the like, but longer discussion for sure.
Felix: But I think when you go back to geopolitics, I think one of the really interesting things we learned in 2022 was precisely this distinction between architecture and plumbing, which I think people had forgotten about a lot, and they often mistook plumbing for architecture, which is why when we threatened, when we were talking for a couple of weeks about we might be so bold as to cut Russia off from Swift, that was always referred to as the nuclear option, because it was considered to be just such a profoundly damaging thing. And then we did it, and the consequences were frankly negligible. And everyone basically woke up in the morning after we cut off Russia from Swift and said, oh, we mistook plumbing for architecture. And if Russia can't use the Swift plumbing, they're just going to use some other form of plumbing instead.
Jeremy: Yeah, I mean, this whole theme, which I was also touching on of the dialogue around basically alternative currency systems and alternative payment systems, the intensity of focus on that, my experience at least, is far, far greater than it's ever been. There was always talk about this in the past, but it's not just talk anymore. It's really action. I refer to this a little bit to be like the frog in the boiling water, which is these things are happening. There are these things happening. The heat will continue to turn up. It does feel like, to the broader thesis of your book, it's like we're ending a 75-year era and we're entering a new era. That new era is being reorganized around very different geoeconomic blocks, geopolitical blocks. Still not sure what the shape of all of those are going to be. We can reason about it clearly. Very concerted efforts to build monetary infrastructure that is resilient from the US and its core Western Allies. It's not black and white.
Felix: This is not a book of predictions at all. One of my things is to expect the unexpected. If that were to happen, if a US-proof monetary infrastructure were to develop, then I could easily trace that back to the new normal and the big changes that were brought by the pandemic. That said, I personally I'm boring and conservative and neoliberal enough to believe that's not going to happen in our lifetimes. I just can't say it. The strength of the dollar for all that it's been through various things that have conceptually weakened it is still paramount. Nothing is coming in close. And the power of the institutions that exist to shore up is still incredibly strong. I'm reminded of 12 years ago, maybe like there were there were about when Bitcoin was just getting started. A bunch of people basically said, well, obviously the US Government is just going to come down and crush it and make it illegal because there's language in the Constitution saying that you can't have any legal currency that isn't the dollar. And so if you're going to try and build up Bitcoin as an alternative currency, that's clearly an unconstitutional thing. And I think everyone was surprised. Certainly I was surprised that there was no real effort on the part of the US Government to do that. They just allow to do whatever it is it did. And one of the reasons they allowed it was because they found it so incredibly unthreatening. But if it ever becomes a threat, then they have all the power in the world to just crash it.
Jeremy: I mean, you certainly see regimes that have capital controls, capital control regimes have undertaken those kinds of legal steps with various levels of prosecution and the like. And the incentives are different. If you're in the United States and you're a dollar user, the incentives are different than if you're in Argentina and whatnot. But, I think one of the things that I think ties also to some of the themes in your book as well is, again, the changing relationship that people around the world are having with digital money. As I think about at least the future and what could emerge is we're entering an era where for significant cohorts of people, they've come to understand that they can participate in different forms of economic value and economic value exchange more directly just with software on their phone or apps that they're interacting with and the traditional tightly controlled all around the world, every country with its own tightly controlled government run, government monopolized currency. More people and businesses are trying to seek ways to participate in other economic systems, basically vote with their smartphone, as I like to say. And it ties back to the role of the dollar. My view is more aligned with your view, which is that I actually think these technological shifts, which will make the form factor of a dollar be this digital currency instrument that can be widely, widely used and can scale with network effects and ease over the form factor of the internet as a medium of exchange actually is a tremendous opportunity for strengthening that. But it also does seem to imply that other currencies will become weaker and less valuable and less used. And there's ultimately going to be more tension around that in parts of the world because internet scale technologies crowd out oftentimes and they have in communications and information and in data and media, they crowd out the tightly controlled proprietary local things. And currency is just one of those. And so-
Felix: No, I think that's right. We have two internets basically. the world's internet and then there's the Chinese internet and that, and we're probably going to wind up. I can definitely see a world where we wind up with two, where we already have two payment systems in the world with. Yeah, credit cards and all that stuff. And then China with WeChat and Alipay. And that bifurcation, I think is real, there's not a lot of space for a third or a fourth or a fifth having like, Swiss Coin who's going to care about that?
Jeremy: Right, right. Yeah, so I think in this, the role of the dollar, our premise is there's a technological competition that's happening for currencies that's actually real. And there's a worldview, which is, I think, the Chinese worldview, which is that technology competition is going to largely be state-sponsored and have embedded value systems in it and or embedded political control mechanisms in it. And that's an expression, a technology expression of of a political and economic system. And the West has and the US has some explicit choices to make about what value systems they want in that world of dollar digital currency.
Felix: We have to remember, just to stick one more beat on this, that the dollar system and the power of the dollar comes in very large part from what you call scalability. And the way that the dollar scales is through fractional reserve banking. You know, it's banks who create the dollar and it's banks who are at the heart of the global payment system right now. And to the degree that the role of US regulated banks becomes diminished in some future global payments structure, you are also diminishing their ability to create money and to scale dollars.
Jeremy: Yeah, I know. I'm very interested in how credit intermediation happens in the future and the possibilities of credit intermediation that can be performed in a lower risk way with less embedded leverage that could be safer and more recession resilient and also allow for extremely high velocity money as well. So think about that a lot actually.
Felix: I'm sure you do.
Jeremy: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I do want to pivot to another topic which builds off of this, which is I'm really interested in and I captured your interest in it as well, which was this belief that coming out of all this, that the world needs new, I'll use a phrase, mechanism design in terms of how collaboration and problem solving and organization works. And there are a number of references around this that our collective efforts have to shift. Obviously, there's the obvious stuff like, okay, wow, we've got generative AI, we better figure that out. That's like a collective effort thing or obviously, the climate crisis is a collective effort thing or there's a number of those collective effort things. But I'm thinking about this and I think I captured a little bit of this from you as well, which is at a micro level. How do we, as these new virtual workers and in this new distributed world and in this new more digitally native world, how does organization of work and output and other things happen? And my own belief is that there's going to be, we're entering a new era and there's going to be a lot of experimentation and we're going to see new organizational forms and corporate forms and other things emerge out of this. And I'd love to hear you talk a little bit about that.
Felix: Yeah, no, this is profound. And I think we saw two very interesting collective action instances or examples over the course of the pandemic. The first one, of course, was March, April 2020 which was the really big one when the entire planet just stopped. Everyone went into lockdown. We all just went into our homes. All of the supply chains broke, all of those dynamic equilibria spun out of control and ground to a halt, and the global economy just fell off a cliff. And we did that collectively, all of us playing our part by staying home and not going out in the world and not touching each other and not interacting with each other physically, in order to buy ourselves time, bend the curve, give ourselves the ability to develop vaccines and therapeutics and collectively, basically go to war against this microscopic virus. And that was astonishing to behold. And we haven't really seen the world come together that way ever before. And the way we did that was was quite stunning. And that gave me some hope that maybe we will be able to do that for other things and specifically for climate change. Um, the other one, which is smaller, but also extremely intro, was the way that investing became a social phenomenon, a genuinely social phenomenon for the first time ever. And you wound up actually getting wars, well, maybe not wars, but suddenly battles break out between Wall Street bets on the ones on the one hand, and the hedge funds on the other. And, and you saw this, you saw investing turned into a game where playing the game was the thing that mattered. And winning was great, but losing was also thrilling. And it wasn't this instrumentalist, I need to invest money in order to secure my retirement thing so much as it was, this is a fun game that I am playing with a bunch of people on the internet, which started in stocks, but rapidly moved into NFTs, which were increasingly designed not to be quote unquote art, but rather to be social and to create these communities and often communities of exactly ten thousand people, because that seemed to be the sweet spot, where it was small enough that there were a lot of people who wanted to get in but couldn't. And so that would increase the price and that all of these dynamics. And so yeah, the way in which social media and money really came together for the first time was astonishing to behold, and I don't think is we're going to be able to put that toothpaste back in the tube.
Jeremy: Yeah, you also had the phenomenon of dows, which was essentially like, hey, I've got oh, yeah, the dow is all tied in, right?
Felix: Yeah, the dows were perfectly and the one that really caught the imagination of the public was the Constitution Dow, which in a glorious example of the new not normal and the unpredictability of everything, after it had utterly failed in its stated aim of buying a copy of the US Constitution, the value of the governance tokens in the Constitution Dow only went up and up and up, and they became this like speculative currency. Right.
Felix: Right. And you could you could buy into the Constitution Dow, lose the Constitution and then sell your governance tokens at 100x profit. You know, wow, what is this world? Right.
Jeremy: Yeah, no, there's some nuttiness, obviously. Clearly, clearly. I think about this at a more micro level, which is in a globalized world where everyone is connected through these new mediums, and where you have the ability to create structures, where you have effectively ownership, participation, governance. Like these are underlying infrastructure that's there, and this is on-chain infrastructure, didn't exist before. You didn't have an internet native infrastructure where you could actually have ownership, a treasury, governance, voting, and value exchange, all mediated by software entirely, and where participation and ownership and decisions were all mathematically provable. With counter parties anywhere in the world that are connected to the internet. That to me is a really big breakthrough, and I don't think we're done with the experimentation there. There's the nutty stuff, but there's also a way in which social, political, economic organization are also an outgrowth of technological capabilities, whether it was the broadcast media and its relationship to how that drove democratic participation, all these kinds of things. I'm personally interested in the way in which people around the world will use this technology to come together to solve problems, organize capital, conduct work, and do that on a supranational scale that, again, just technologically wasn't straightforward to do, but now we have a substrate that's emerging where you can start to do these. They'll press up against, obviously, legal reality. They'll press up against the laws of the local government. You can go to the extreme biologies , network state thesis, but even more mundane, just how do we organize collectively to achieve an outcome, whether it's producing something or organizing, etc., and using this technology to do that?
Felix: Yeah, exactly. And the dream of being able to connect with like-minded people around the world in furtherance of some common aim was one that definitely got turbocharged during the pandemic. And you could see people using various different Discords and Reddits and DOWs and all the rest of it to do that. And that dream is, is not going to die that. And the way that we all communicated with each other for most of 2020 was via these screens and using these networks, even if it's just group text thread the way that we interact with other humans has become much more intermediate and much more virtual. And that is going to go absolutely right, it's going to have a profound effect on the way we think about the way that we construct organizations and the dominant organization of the past century has been the corporation, and specifically the limited liability corporation, which has lots of wonderful things to be said for it, but there are alternatives and we're going to see more of those alternatives.
Jeremy: Promise I agree. And I believe that will be an on chain future. But it's a lot of exciting stuff. I'll leave with one thought, which is, I think, your book came out before the past few months of explosive generative AI. And generative AI is obviously now captured the popular imagination. And it is one of those things which has been both expected but unexpected. And it's in its compounding nature is certainly unexpected for the vast majority of people that are out there. And I'm just interested just given the broader thesis of your book and the like is how you think about the disruptions, changes that are unexpected, but maybe we have a clear view on now.
Felix: Well, it's definitely not a clear view. Like the one thing we know about this is there's a lot of muddiness and a lot of known unknowns. Um, and there is an enormously broad spectrum of people looking at generative AI from saying I guess there were three corners where you could find yourself. One is saying like, it's a nothing burger. It's a party trick. One is saying that it is going to cause the extinction of every human on the planet. And one is saying that it's going to be the greatest productivity enhancement the world has ever seen. And we're all just going to become incredibly rich and productive and thrive. And all three of them you can, I have seen all three argued. My gut feeling, and this is just me being a gut feeling and not, not having any particular expertise on the matter is that we might actually surprise ourselves on the nothing burger side of things. The AI is potentially extremely powerful, both to the upside and to the downside, but the generative AI in particular might turn out to be a little bit of a dead end. And the AI is one of these things that goes many, many years without spinning its wheels and going nowhere. And then suddenly it invents something new, and everyone gets very excited. And then it and then that plateaus for a while, and then we go nowhere. And then suddenly a new form of AI comes along. And I'm not convinced that the large language models are actually be all and end all of like, where it's not really intelligence, it's not artificial intelligence by any, by the way I think of it. I do think it can be a marginal productivity enhancement. I don't think it's going to cause the extinction of the planet. But it is definitely one of those volatility events, right? That it will, it has the ability to create both massive upsides and massive downsides. And that's exactly what the book is about is that these things will come along. They will surprise us and we need to be ready for them when they, when they arrive.
Jeremy: Yeah. Well, you're helping us be ready, Felix. So I'm appreciative and appreciative of you coming on and chatting about it all here today.
Felix: It's been fun. Thank you for having me on.
Jeremy: You're welcome, Felix.