Thanks again for reading this Manifesto.

You might have been wondering “Why the emphasis on the U.S.?”:

First, I believe that people from any country should focus on issues that they have disproportionate ability to affect. On that note, just about everyone has more influence over matters to which they are in closest physical proximity to—whether they are matters affecting your family, your town, y- our city, your state/province, or country. As an American, I have more influence over what happens in the U.S. than in, say, Canada, Brazil, or Singapore. And I believe citizens of a country should be most invested in making improvements to the place they live.

Second, the issues affecting the U.S. are not identical to those affecting other countries, even if there are many similarities across countries. Thought leadership on, say, how we improve America’s regulatory regime, educate American family offices, or create media that inspires American students may have some use to movement builders around the world—but the only way that this manifesto and its eventual outputs can help level up America is if they are designed to provide great service to Americans dealing with U.S.-specific challenges.

Third, there is no question that knowledge and technology produced by an American-centric movement can and should be shared with builders in other countries. And in a way that doesn’t replicate the sometimes predatory models of international philanthropy and economic development of the past many decades. And if we want to help the world, it’s important that we know we can help ourselves. Let’s get our own messy house in order before arrogantly assuming we can help others.

Fourth, the US still arguably has the most access to resources and power in the world right now, and changes in the U.S. here have extraordinary leverage in setting positive trends that cascade across the world.

Finally, most of this manifesto can be forked by movement builders in other countries who recognize the applicability of this approach to future-building in their local environment. I welcome this wholeheartedly.

Expand full comment
Jan 3Liked by Gary Sheng

I loved this.. thank you for working on and kicking off a seminal piece of work. I hope this takes shape beyond these pages on the internet in the real realm. A few specific comments:

1. Love the fact that despite the doom and gloom, you choose be optimistic and push the envelope in painting the picture. Honestly there is no other way, but there is so much despair that these silver linings get lost

2. The vision for the future is very compelling and worth working for. Many things are already in play to make such a vision happen, but it is also nice to see it all come together with the picture you painted... makes it more tactile to work towards

3. (personal favorite) - I am a big fan of WaitButWhy and am so delighted to see you are too (and quoting from it!)

4. Tech startup lit survey is very rich and useful. I was drawn to several examples and dug further into many of them.. Thank you for this!

5. Flywheel - this is probably my only/main comment on possible area of future work. It wasn't very clear to me if this would actually get the flywheel going and if it will indeed exceed the escape velocity we talk about. The levers seem all fine and reinforcing, but it felt a little out of sight for me...maybe an area for future work to flesh this out more?

All in all.. great work.. so inspiring.. thanks for doing this!

Expand full comment

Thanks for the extremely thoughtful piece.

Your biggest challenge will be separating out Foundational Tech from other more familiar categories: basic science, deep tech, or even just technology investing, in general.

Basic science is usually done in universitites and laboratories. Even as a big fan of this kind of science, I'm not sure that it's a good place to allocate venture capital... though I'm equally skeptical that government is an effective allocator of science risk capital. And, let's not forget that sometimes inventions don't come from a fancy University with a team of PhDs, sometimes it just takes grit like the Wright Brothers had. How do we get more Crisprs, transistors, and information theories?

Deep tech is the application of basic science to get products that are useful to humanity, often giving rise to entire new industries. Some uses of the solid state transistor were obvious, like across trans-Atlantic cables. Others like the microprocessor were less obvious but obviously more important and far-reaching. And, the microprocessor was really the outcome of decades of research in mathematics, physics, chemistry all coming together. We definitely want to fund more deep tech companies, but we also should be reasonable about how risky that capital is. DARPA tends to be effective at this stage between basic science and normal technology.

The final category is an interesting one. Sure, the government "invented" the Internet, but it was only put to use once we had PCs everywhere thants to Wintel (Microsoft+Intel), communications technology built by the private sector, decades of work on Unix and its derivatives, etc. Private capital is responsible for the explosive growth in the information sector, giving the world some of the most valuable companies, both in terms of enterprise value and value to society.

So, where does Foundational Tech fit in? How is it different? I don't expect an answer (it's not easy!) and will drop you a note to continue the conversation, if you're interested.

Expand full comment

gonna read it every week as a dose of optimism!

Expand full comment

Great vision. Looking forward to seeing America 2.0 unfold in the coming years.

Expand full comment

Go Gary!

Expand full comment