< return

Basic Income & The Failures of Digital Advertising

August 16, 2021
Reggie Watts


Today we are joined by actor, comedian, and musician, Reggie Watts, who many of you might recognize from the Late Late Show with James Corden, where he leads the house band, or from one of his many amazing performances, including TedTalks and music videos that have garnered tens of millions of views.

In this episode, Reggie and I talk about creating content with technology, the failures of the digital advertising model, how to escape the attention economy, the benefits of basic income, and how to bring out the best in people when their needs aren’t being met.

One great example of challenging the current advertising and creator model is Reggie's very own app, WattsApp, which you can find on Apple & on Android phones.


Sign up for your 2 week free trial of Singularity's premium membership @ singularity.org/2weektrial

Apply to join our Nov 7th - 11th Executive Program @ go.su.org/ep2021


Host: Steven Parton - LinkedIn / Twitter

Music by: Amine el Filali


The following transcription was created automatically. Please be aware that there may be spelling or grammatical errors.


people, instagram, world, vr, basic income, technology, feel, ads, solve, app, bit, naturalistic, shit, problem, created, headset, lives, talking, based, engineering


Reggie Watts, Steven Parton

Reggie Watts  00:00

Everything should be looked at, through the lens of engineering and efficiency. But with the premium, the lead metric is human wellbeing. So that needs to be a value that's inherent in the system. That's what we're that's what it's, it's for. It's for that.

Steven Parton  00:31

Hello everyone, my name is Steven, pardon and you're listening to the feedback loop on singularity radio, where we keep you up to date on the latest technological trends, and how they're impacting the transformation of consciousness and culture from the individual to society at large. Today, we have actor, comedian, and musician Reggie Watts, who many of you might recognize from The Late Late Show with James Corden, where he leads the house band or from one of his many amazing performances, which often involve some variation of beatboxing, loop pedals, or virtual reality. Now, like many of the truly funny comedians in the world, Reggie has a keen intellect and curiosity, which he often turns towards his interest in Technology and Society. And we explore the interest deeply in this episode, as we talk about creating content with technology, the failures of the digital advertising model, how to escape the attention economy, the benefits of basic income, and how to bring out the best in people when their needs aren't being met. As usual, before we jump into it, I want to quickly remind you that we are currently offering two free weeks of premium membership at singularity. And we're also accepting applications for our upcoming executive program, which takes place from November 7 to the 11th in Silicon Valley, you can check out the episode description for links to both of those, if either would be something that you're interested in exploring further. Now, with that out of the way, let's get to the real reason you're here. Everyone, please welcome to the feedback loop, the hilarious and talented Reggie Watts. Yeah, are there aspects of the future of technology and creatively that you're really excited about are the things that you're looking forward to that are coming down the line? Like I know, you're a big fan of augmented reality and virtual reality? Have you? What are some of the experiments that you've been dealing with that?

Reggie Watts  02:26

Well, you know, I've been, it's funny, I dip in, when there's something new to experience, the technology, the user interface, so forth, generally speaking, it nothing's really like, blown me away, like blown me away, like 100% you know, but we're, we're getting there, we're like, we're slowly working our way up. So someday, someday we'll have at least in the VR space, we'll have a piece of hardware that is standalone, that's able to stream you know, maybe up to 8k, at least 4k per eye, or maybe even more for you know, with foliated rendering and you know, and all of these inside out tracking that's like really good, you know, also mouth tracking, you know, all this stuff that has a pretty decent battery life. And you can just throw it on and it's ready to go. And it's not a stupid Oculus quest. Like it's just like, Please enter your Facebook accounts like you know what, fuck off. Like, I'm not giving you my facebook account, so you can throw and then throw ads in there. We just need a hardcore standalone piece of gear, you just throw it on, there's like a store or two stores you can choose from to get your experiences and you're just ready to go. And right now we're not quite there so I am excited about the prospect because VR is picking up and as much as I hate Oculus you know they are making it very popular. But someone hopefully is gonna swoop in and go like this is how you do VR like I thank you finally. But yeah, so augmented reality obviously you know, Apple's got their, their system that's gonna come out at some point that's going to be very exciting. People are going to hack the crap out of that, I'm sure. Yeah, but they're not quite robust enough for me to say that this is a useful part of my life that I that I can just oh, I've got an idea. I'm just gonna throw on my headset like I'm not quite there yet. It's more like okay, let's make sure I've updated all the firmware. Okay, that's good. I'm having a little bit trouble right I'm supposed to start the headset before I open this program like there's just a lot of engineering you know stuff like controllers overs my Oh low batteries. Okay. Oh, whatever. So it's not quite as like fast it's it's beautiful once you're in there, of course, but it's not quite of zone where I'm like, I can't wait to make something you know. And then I think of VR I don't really think of that I think of VR is more like an experience. you design an experience. You put people in the headset And they experience something. So it's more like a production intensive thing at this point.

Steven Parton  05:06

Are you excited about that move to the digital space of entertainment? Like there's a lot of like pros and cons and gives and takes when whenever you adopt a new technology, do you feel like the pros outweigh the negatives? And in that sense,

Reggie Watts  05:18

I think so to me, we're only limited by our imagination, you know, it's really, as prices come down for developing technologies. And as standards increase, standardization, increases ubiquity. So there's just like kind of more of a couple solid standards for transmission, whether it's like wireless, like high bandwidth, you know, video, audio, whatever multimedia pass through to a headset, those types of things will like help hugely, because right now it's like, well, I've got this, but this is enterprise. Oh, it's for enterprise, it's not really made for users this prosumer Well, this is like a kind of low tech, low tech prosumer enterprise. It's all over the place. And it's hard, hard to verify, or it's hard to understand who it's for all the time. But I think I think that moving in the digital space where you can just walk into a room and you're, you're already tracked, and maybe there's rear projection walls, or whatever, or just front projected walls, and you can interact immediately in the digital space but you're just using your, your organic sensors, you know, to look around you and engage in a space without wearing any gear that possibly may happen. I think once we're able to naturalistically just jump into something and go I think you're gonna see some pretty amazing stuff especially for performers you know, I want to be you know, I was running I was doing alt space VR shows back in the day. And I remember like wearing the perception neuron, you know, version one perception neuron suits, you know, which is like a motion tracking suit and like doing the T pose and calibration, all this stuff, and then I had that odd then I had all my had the VR rig on and I had the controllers within I had my music gear in front of me, and there was like a proximity pass through. So as I got close to my gear, I could see the outline of the of all my gear, and I just had to let go of the, the joysticks, so they're just dangling around my wrist. So the the puppet that are the avatar that I'm putting, the hands start dangling like this. And then I'm grabbing a microphone and singing with a microphone that has a dangly hands, but I'm like performing and I kind of see the outline of what I mean. You know, it's very crude, and I thought it was kind of hilarious. Yeah, I love it. And there's like a team of eight people there, you know, like making sure things are running smoothly, you know, so I do like the technical nature of it back then. But I think for the future going forward, if you want to perform in VR for people, if it's a live stream or something like that, you need something that's a little bit more naturalistic and easy to just jump into. And that's coming down the road, someone's going to crack it at some point.

Steven Parton  07:56

What does that like doing comedy in VR? Like without the audience the ambience, the laughter like being right there in your face, be able to read people's facial expressions?

Reggie Watts  08:08

Well, I mean, you do get a little bit of feedback and like the little bubbling like emoticon stuff. I think, you know, I don't really I don't really mind it. Like I I don't necessarily need to hear an audience if I know an audience's there. I can kind of feel like if something's working or not, like I don't necessarily need the laughs to know. Because it's also just the the format, you know, that's just how it is. So you just either either you adapt or you don't do it. But for me, I yeah, I had a great time. jumping in and doing calm is the first time I tried it was at Jazz Fest in the desert, and the only one that ever happened, but all space was set up there like a little tent, and they're like, Hey, you want to do comedy? And B? And I was like, Yeah, and I just like, put on the the rig and like went in and immediately was like, This is the shit. This is like, this is what I want to be doing. And yeah, and I have had a good time. I've done many shows where all space in one show for sansaar as well. But I'd have to say, I enjoyed I enjoy old space. I just wish that the interface was a little bit easier to use, but they're working on it. They're doing great job.

Steven Parton  09:24

Yeah, is that a medium You're so into playing right now? Are you kind of waiting till it does make that upgrade to the next to the next year?

Reggie Watts  09:31

Well, I've been talking, I had a meeting with all space in all space and they showed me some new things they're working on and their avatars look really good. They're they're really doing a great job at making them their eyes look like they're looking at you. The expressions are really naturalistic, they're still very cartoony but very expressive. And everyone looks super cute. And it's great. Like I think that I think that it's the way that it looks And the things that they're adding to it are amazing. And really, it's just the tech needs to catch up, the interface needs to catch up. I think that, I think that it looks very promising. So I'm stoked to do more shows with alt space for sure. And I'll, you know, wear my gear, but their new stuff that they're doing as well, it does free you up a lot. So that's nice. But yeah, I think it's a hardware, you know, content, interface, race, you know, hardware is kind of like, lagging a little bit behind, software is getting better the experience, the world design is getting really good. They're solving a lot of problems that way, but the hardware still needs to just kind of, let's just kind of like just to have a growth spurt, there needs to be a growth spurt, there's gonna be some kind of, there's gonna be some kind of a crack where we get like, Oh, 180 degree field of view, and really tall, big and wide, like, a huge, like, naturalistic scope of the world. And then, again, like body tracking, and like being able to see your mouth and like, read your mouth movements, and have that puppet in your avatar, all that stuff. So well, I don't know, we'll see. I think, you know, next two years, I think we're gonna see some pretty crazy shit. But in the meantime, I'll continue testing and trying it.

Steven Parton  11:16

What was the push for WhatsApp? Because that's a new thing that you created, correct? Yes. Yeah. How recent how recently was that

Reggie Watts  11:25

that's been going all through the pandemic. You know, I, I'm still trying to figure out how to use it more. You know, once you have an app, so it's, it's kind of like, it's good to have the app because it's ready to go. If it wants to go through an evolution like we there's a platform that I can start to use, I'm actually in the process of finding a creative director to work with that can kind of help push kind of quarterback and push through the various projects that I have. Because right now I can make lots of stuff. But what I do with it is a whole nother ballgame. It'd be nice to have someone to kinda like, Oh, we could use this this way. And we could you know, we could do this or we could do that. So we'll see. But, um, yeah, so WhatsApp was created as a, as a platform for me to kind of put things on on it that I make, to stream things to have a store where I can sell stuff that I don't want anymore. So yeah, it's it's kind of an everyday it's just kind of like a platform that I'm going to keep running until it really has a huge hyper purpose

Steven Parton  12:30

was there there was a drive behind it that made you not want to use like traditional media, like websites or YouTube or other things, promote your stuff. Like what was their drive that made you want to make it an app? That's kind of more under your control?

Reggie Watts  12:45

Yeah, I mean, I guess, you know, Facebook, buying Instagram, I was, I knew it was gonna turn to shit. And it's mostly it functions. But I use it very, basically, you know, I've always used it, like, I use Tumblr, it's just a chronological display of my life. As I move forward. On occasion, I promote something, but it's mostly just like, these are things are happening in my life. So I can look back and go, Oh, that's crazy. But, um, so I use it that way. And in some of the other functions, like stories, I guess I used that for a long time, I was like, What the fuck is this, it's like, you know, there's only so many, so many ways you can slice audio and video, you know, and claim that it's new. So um, so it is a little annoying, and that they're always trying to like that, you know, they look at somebody else's thing, it becomes popular, then they copy it directly, and then try to implement it just to kind of keep engagement up, and then sneak ads in there to sell shit. So that part kind of gets a little tiring after a while. And I'm sure there's great people at Facebook, you know, it's just a, it's just people at the end of the day. So I'm not faulting people. It's it's also just capitalism. But I wanted a place where people can go and see my stuff and know that they don't have to worry about that shit being tracked, or, you know, their behavior being logged, or like an ad popping up. You just opened the app. And that's what it is. And that's all it is. So you don't have to, you have to worry, place to relax and see my stuff.

Steven Parton  14:20

Yeah. Do you feel like we're going in a bad direction with that stuff right now? I mean, are you optimistic about the way things are playing out the ads? I know you were in that film, creative control, for instance, that had talked about people with ads, like coming in and invading people's experience. And that's a real struggle right now. But are you optimistic about it?

Reggie Watts  14:40

I think so. I think it's a growing pain. I think we're, it gets like, you know, we're like tweens moving into teens. When it comes to technology. We're still kind of pretty primitive. The you know, the way that Facebook and others are monetizing The internet is very, very primitive and kinda low bar thinking, it definitely generates a lot of revenue, obviously, to keep innovating technologies, but it's driven by capitalistic a capitalistic engine, which many would argue like, well, that's just how that's how you generate money. But you know, I think subscription based models are going to kind of become a little bit more popular, especially if someone creates a really good service that that is easy to use, connects people really easily. And it's subscription based. And you don't have to worry about ads or any of that shit. And they maybe they'll track like, stats and things like that just to kind of improve things like internally for the for the app, but it's never used for selling information to advertisers and things like that. I think that that once someone cracks that, it'll be great. I mean, so essentially, a Netflix model ran, ran ads, they they're doing great. So there needs to be a social network that is subscription based, you know, and or Instagram could kind of fix that by just becoming subscription based. And just do like, an Instagram, ad use the word plus, but you know, something, something, something like that, where you're like, Oh, yeah, let's just do it. You know, or, you know, YouTube did that. I was really happy about that when YouTube did YouTube premium. I mean, there's still like, obviously, collecting data. But at least I don't have to see the ads. Because that's my biggest enemy in the world is seeing an ad. And

Steven Parton  16:18

it's gotten bad to man. It's gotten really bad, right? Yeah.

Reggie Watts  16:22

It's like twice a video. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Oh, you're talking about YouTube? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I can't, I can't do it, or Spotify. You know, like when someone doesn't have a Spotify Premium account. And it's like, you'll love these new napkins their blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Now back to your music. And then it's like, Tame Impala. And you're like, what the fuck? No,

Steven Parton  16:41

yeah, you just really killed the vibe.

Reggie Watts  16:44

I'm not doing that shit, I can't do it. So I think safe space, social networking is going to be a huge deal, I hope or at least a small deal for people that care. But I think that that's the way we're doing it. I think that the ad based stuff, it's like, Who cares? Like I get it, like some people are like, I actually like it, because it actually does give me things that I want to buy. But then again, how many things do you need to buy? Like, if you have if you have a problem and you want to solve it, just look it up online and then find the solution and buy that, you know, but like, I don't think this idea of just casually like doing your social networking. Oh, sweater. That's cool. I'm sure that, you know, people have bought things that they're very happy with the algorithm provided, you know, some things like that, but I would just rather not.

Steven Parton  17:32

Yeah, I would think that if you wanted it enough, you wouldn't need the reminder.

Reggie Watts  17:36

No, you wouldn't. It's like, it's like a point of purchase or something. But I get this gum. I mean, it does work. But I just I just rather not, you know, or at least have a huge control over what you want to see. And then put it in another section. I just want to have more control over how you know because Instagram is you know, it's like they change their interface all the time. It's like, Where's that plus button? Oh, now it's at the top now it's not the bottom? Oh, shoppings at the bottom and this motherfuckers like everything. It's like every day I'm expecting Oh, we're now where did they move a function? Now? What are they copying? What did they add now? Like, what what other shitty thing are they put out? They have the, you know, the Midas touch of shit, you know? So yeah, man, but they're like, but we're on top. So that's when we have to use us. Yeah, you have a choice. Yeah, you don't have a choice. But so I hope that there's like a challenger out there. That's like now we're doing subscription based. Everybody's loving it. And then of course, Instagram will copy it because it's they don't have original ideas at this point. So it's there, like looking like, oh, what else is Oh, yeah, that let's copy that. So I don't know, I hope something like that happens. Maybe Maybe I'll make watsapp that place. I you know, I think people will have fun. Like, if you could do all the same stuff you can do on something like Instagram. But you never see an ad. And it feels like you have way more control over the way it looks, you know, the way your profile looks and all that stuff. A lot of customization. I mean, I think people would really dig that, I think Yeah,

Steven Parton  19:06

seems like would be less exploitive too, right. And like better for the creator as an artist yourself, I can imagine that the whole you know, so many musicians I know are absolutely despise the way the recording industry and the music industry pretty much takes advantage of them and the kind of hoops they have to jump through to be able to make any kind of money with their music. And it feels like if you're putting your music on something that is free or your creativity out there into something that's free, you now have to play this kind of really gross attention economy game rather than just be like here $5 if you really give a damn and you can have access to everything.

Reggie Watts  19:44

Yeah, no, that's completely right. It is very frustrating. And something that I try to remind people of is, I'm sure I didn't come up with this term, but you know, the direct economy, like You know, where you're just directly buying things from people, you know, like, your favorite band, like, yeah, we've got these things for sale like or got these five, these digital files, there's the digital album, here's the actual physical record, like whatever format, you want to buy physical or digital. It's all it all goes to the band, you know, and obviously hidden charges for whatever their deals are, but like, you know, on their side, they would handle that, but it here's the price, and you get to have it, it's really simple, here's the thing you want. So how much it costs, now you have it, and I think and that was like, early days, like, you know, 90s, I remember in the 90s, like some bands selling CDs, and they made like, I don't know, like a shit ton of money, it was like $600,000 or $5,000 off of sales, because they were selling units for whatever was at the time, 12, you know, 12 to 15 bucks, and, you know, and they have 10,000 fans, and then 10,000 fans by the that record or whatever, you know, they were making really good money, and I was just like direct sales. So it doesn't, it seems pretty natural, and because you could still use you can still have your music on those other services, but then you have your like, whatever your app site, you know, or, you know, you're part of a some some kind of a direct economy site or something like that, and you just make money directly from the, from your fans. And I think that, even though that's an old concept, I think that it can come back in a new way. That greatly simplifies our relationship to the internet, because we spend too much time just in these algorithmic feedback loops, you know, these engagement traps. And I would rather I would rather lose myself in like naturalistic displays of human intention, you know, rather than accidental, you know, hooks that are trying to bring you into the thicket, you know, and off the off the trail that you were originally on.

Steven Parton  21:57

Is there a way that you kind of protect yourself against those hooks?

Reggie Watts  22:01

I don't do the best job. I mean, none of us do. I know I don't I mean, I mean, I go down YouTube. wormholes, quite a bit. I mean, I guess you could say they're all things that I'm interested in, but they definitely take a lot of my time, a lot of time. And I just get it, I can feel that addiction. I am addicted to the addictive feeling of it, you know, like, oh, What news? Did I miss? You know, who said something on my post that I posted? You know, what, what are they saying on Twitter, about this thing that I did, most of my time is me just wondering, like, how people are reacting to things that I put out there. So I feel like there's some kind of usefulness to it, I think. But yeah, other things like just the algorithm, or Instagram getting me sometimes I'm pretty good at like, when I get the Instagram, I just go straight to my profile, straight to my post, and then just look at the comments. And then I might look at my friends, like I'll just scroll through and see what my friends are up to a little bit. But I tried to stay away from that stupid opening page that has like the algorithmic, you like skateboard. So here's a badass skateboard. Sometimes it's useful, but I don't like the way they do it. It just, it just feels like an obvious it just feels like drugs. really does not. And I love drugs, but not those kinds of drugs.

Steven Parton  23:23

Yeah, you mess out design a lot. I feel like like, Is there something in your mind that you've thought would be a better approach, like beyond just direct purchasing? And subscriber models? Like, is there something that you would love to see these tech companies do to change up how they're interfacing with people,

Reggie Watts  23:43

I would just rather than be honest, like, just keep it simple. You know, I think that the the complexity of the market based approach, you know, when you have major corporations, those shareholders and that it's just too much complexity, and there's no way that's going to be in the interest of the user. At the end of the day, the only thing they want is they want they want numbers, they want engagement and they want metrics, they want to be able to game the fuck out of the system. So I don't know how a major corporation could do good. Like a full like, this is for you guys. You know, I just don't, I don't know how they're gonna do that. I mean, Apple's like the closest thing like where they're talking about privacy, and I love what they did with Facebook, I love that. Like, like, now there's it, we're gonna have a nutritional label for you know, privacy and, and you're gonna get a lot of apps, because you're the worst. And, you know, and just because you have a monopoly on it, that's why it needs to break open to other form forms that have just as much money backing them, you know, in the beginning, and kind of can recoup at least through some kind of a subscription or some other you know, some other method of generating income. That is based off of the willingness of users to be excited about the experience rather than a coercion and trickery. So and you lose that or wait too long that no one's ever gonna read and you just let go whatever you say I would love to see a one paragraph EULA. It's just like this. Is it this at all? This is all we're doing.

Steven Parton  25:23

All your data belongs to us. Check it out. Thanks

Reggie Watts  25:26

for Totally, yeah, exactly. It's like no, you're just Willy. It's like, you got to mimic the physical world to a certain extent, right? It's not like you walk into a club and certainly there's advert advertisement but if you went into like a dance club, or whatever you walk in, and you'll see a banner behind the DJ is like, sponsored by, you know, Calum chalk in Guelph, Guelph, and you know, like all these like, musically, that's totally I get it. Those are sponsors, right? And they're like, helping make the event the shit. But it's different than like, you know, walking in and you know, people have done sketches about this, but just like someone running up and immediately like, have you tried this new flavor of gum above and now now I'm just trying to go dance man. It's like, Hey, how about this hat? You like it? Yeah, we were selling them over. Now. That's that's cool, man. How about that, you know, it's cheesy as fuck. It's square. It's cheesy. It's tasteless. It's tacky. And it's disappointing. And, like, do better.

Steven Parton  26:19

Do you remember ship petals? adblocker

Reggie Watts  26:22

Yeah, that was one of them. Yeah, that was one of them. I mean, it's so rad. I mean, they nailed it, you know, but like, but the thing that sucks is like when that's all you got when all you have is Tick Tock Twitter, you know Instagram and whatever else I'm missing. That's all you got? Yes. Like we don't we it's crazy that that's all we have. And I know that probably some people out there like Well, there's actually you know, a few other things. I don't know of them. You know, and I, I don't spend my time so scouring for like, new stuff. But you know, it's just, it's funny. It's just funny that that's like, that's all we got. It's like we're, we're a choice pour. You know,

Steven Parton  27:08

I feel like so many creatives and technologists I'm talking to you right now are like pining for that. Douglas Rushkoff early 90s like cyber, open cyber world experience that we all thought was going to come and never came because all the corporations just moved in.

Reggie Watts  27:25

Yeah, yeah. They built their own layer on top. Yeah, this is our world you're like, actually, it's not. We just think it is. You know, there are people working on web three, you know right now and decentralization is a big element to it. And encryption is a privacy is a huge deal. I think there'll be some kind of a, someone will figure out a way to make that very easy to navigate. And I've definitely experienced a little bit of web three. And it's, it's great. It's super cool. I love the interactivity of it, it definitely is not as well funded as like these other corporations have. But I think with the goodwill of engineers, and programmers and coders, something can be generated, someone can bring something together to create a unified decentralized platform that people can connect however they want to connect. So I think that that may, that may happen, I think people just get fed up with, it's an inferior product right now, all of our products that we use, to interact with the internet, people forget that they think that that is the internet, it's not the internet, that's just a layer on top of the infrastructure that that someone's using, they're just building a city on top of it, but there's a city underneath that city, and there's a city on top of that city and there see the city's yet to be built. So to think of it in that way as important because we need to be looking for other options. It's like they're doing like a sliver of the potential of of the internet, like, Instagram and all of that stuff. It's like, such a tiny, tiny, it's like using two horsepower out of a 2000 horsepower, motor, you know, like they're using to 2% of that potential.

Steven Parton  29:12

How do you feel about things like basic income in terms of like switching up the market forces?

Reggie Watts  29:19

Yeah, I love universal. Basic Income is great. It makes sense. Like, I mean, essentially, everything should be looked at, through the lens of engineering and efficiency. And but with the premium, the lead being the lead metric, is human wellbeing. So that needs to be a value that's in, in inherent in the system. That's what we're that's what it's, it's for, it's for that. As long as it's for that, then it only makes sense that people's basic needs should be taken care of what people do with that income if they want to blow it or if they want to, like invest Do it wisely or they just want to use it? Well, that's that's up to them, they can, you know, people can still fuck up, but at least they're given the opportunity to at least play on a beginning level field that provides housing, water, food, you know, you can pay your rent, those those types of things. That makes sense to me. And that only makes for a more efficient society, then the less that people are struggling, the more that they can use their brain power, for things that are going to advance us as a human race. And people can actually take the time we need when people complain about like environmental issues or social justice issues. We environmentalist and social justice people definitely go too far. They like go so far that they end up turning off the people that they want to turn on, which isn't good, their intentions are great, but they go too far too extreme, too militant. And I understand the exuberance of youth and all of that, but it's it doesn't work. It just you know, you're just like, it's just an echo chamber, like you're like, Yeah, do you guys feel this way? Yeah, I feel this way. It's like, yeah, those guys suck. Yeah, those guys suck. And then the other people are like, you guys think that we suck. And we think that you suck, it's like, well, that's not gonna, that's not doing anybody any good. So I think when you kind of equalize the playing field, when people are less, are in less of a survival state, then things start to get interesting. People can kind of mellow out from their extreme positions, and be looking for more compromises and realize that we all are looking for solutions for the same things. And when we're in a survival state, then people can move in and take advantage of that state. Oh, you're frustrated? Yeah, you shouldn't be frustrated. these fuckers over here are blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, socialists, woke whatever off, you know, like, all the terms that we hear that I hear, and I'm like, What the fuck are you talking about? This has nothing to do with making these people's lives better, you're just preying off of their frustration, that's like, and if they knew that, they would be so embarrassed, and they would be so pissed at you right now. So that's the only game you have is just division. And so there's a bunch of parasites that are feeding off of disparity, and gaming. And so I think anything that seeks to get rid of these inequities, these basic inequities, I'm all the way for it. And it has nothing to do with socialism or any of that it's just a pragmatic solution. That's how I look at it. That's that's not load. It's not political. It's just human.

Steven Parton  32:30

I agree. 100%. I mean, I think that's one of the things we're missing with a lot of conversations culturally and technologically is so much of the behavior that we're not liking from people in terms of getting caught up in those traps in the intention economy of wanting to just swipe your phone for hours on end of hating the other, even though you're engaging in behavior that's just like them. A lot of that feels like the result of just honestly having your needs not met.

Reggie Watts  32:58

Yes, 100% percent. I mean, it's like the, the parable of the, you know, the, the lion and the witch in the wardrobe. Now, the lion, you know, with the thumb with a thorn in its paw or whatever was, what is this anything, he's got, like, the worst attitude, he's like, like, turning on everybody, and like attacking everybody. And then like, this little tiny animal realizes that it's got a thorn in its paw and removes the thorn. And the lion is like, Ah, thanks. And that's kind of what it is. It's like people if they don't have their needs met, and they're dissatisfied with their lives, and they have people preying on the dissatisfaction and amplifying all the negative factors and creating an addiction out of that frustration loop. What do you expect? Yeah, someone's going to someone has a gun, someone's going to get fed up and they're going to ram their car into a bunch of people or they're going to hurl epithets you know, people passing on the street or they're gonna create whatever all the all the things that we know that happen that have nothing to do with a person being an asshole. I don't think people are inherently assholes. I think that they're a product of their circumstances. And I think that some people are stronger at going like I'm not going to fall for that, you know, and kind of encouraging people around them not to fall for that and tell it asking people to resist you know, like in in a useful version of resist like where you're like no, you need to resist the temptation of other ism because that's it's pretty easy to do it's fun the fun to poke fun at somebody else and and and you know, and get energy from that, but it's it's such a, it's such a fleeting energy and it's not sustainable. So and it doesn't solve the problem. Not at all. No, not at all. I mean, that's why, you know, I always say, there was a jam that I did with Mark BBA and flying lotus and one of the songs we did, I kept repeating the phrase solution based mind state, and, and that's kind of the thing. It's like, I will Leave, like ultimately people want to solve problems. You know, it doesn't matter. You could be a gun loving, Second Amendment, freedom, whatever, head and then there's like some ultra liberal, you know, very social minded person. And they're off, they're on a roadside, they both see a truck and it's like off the road, and there's people stranded. And both of them get out of their cars, and they're like, how can I help? How can help us? See I need to we need to leverage this. Oh, how do I Oh, you know what, I got a winch. He's like, Oh, look at when we got, when people are coming together to solve problems. It's like, all that shit just goes away. It's because it's not worth anything. There's no value to any of that mind state. It's just junk food. It's a bunch of Hershey's Kisses. And like Werther's original, you know, it's like, just empty out the bowl. And, you know, and eat something nutritious, you know, like, that's, like, people are just problem solvers, and dreamers, and aspirational. I think that's what we are at our base state. And we get fooled into being in other ways.

Steven Parton  36:06

Yeah, I mean, if you can't access those aspirations, then you need to find meaning in some other way. And if the only Avenue left to you is tribalism, or hatred, or some sense of animosity, and you have culture, cultural narratives, and technologies that are exacerbating that, yes, it's gonna be really hard to resist it. Oh,

Reggie Watts  36:29

my gosh, and the thing that sucks about is it's all at least in my, my theory is that it's based off of biology, you know, we have our bio, there is a biological imperative to protect our tribe, you know, our family, these are our units that are important to us, and we need to survive, and the biology wants us to reproduce, and whatever it's like, that's kind of like the, but then you add on top of it consciousness and awareness. And then you get into a crazy mess of trouble, because now we have this ability to choose what we'd like how we'd like to be, who we'd like to be, how we'd like things to function, what the world should be like, and so forth. And some people are for the greater good. And they see like, Oh, this is important to find connection, and other beings and even beings that are seem really hostile, we need to figure out a way to connect with them, we need to protect ourselves in the meantime. But we also need, we should be working on a way to communicate with them and connect with them to show our commonalities. And that's like the greater part of awareness. The other side of it, of course, is taking advantage of a situation, and which, again, is biological. It's like, Oh, I found a food source. I'm gonna hoard it, and I'm gonna not tell anybody about it. And I'm gonna tell him a giant monster lives in the forest that keeps killing people. And to keep people away from that food source, which again, is like, it's still kind of neutral. Ish, because it's a it's a survival tactic, right? It's like, everyone's starving, we found a food source, instead of like, how can we divvy up this food so that, you know, instead of just like, just as keep it all for my family, so there's a lot of biology involved, and it's hard to access the greater the higher mind but like we were just saying, the easiest way is to alleviate the inequity as many inequities as possible. There's no, there's plenty of food in the world for everybody, there's plenty of water for everybody in the world, there's plenty of energy to be created smartly. All over the world, there's no reason why we can't be more kind to nature and the animals around us, it really does make people feel good, and people will double down on they're like, I'm a hunter and I blah, blah, blah, you know, with that kind of attitude, as opposed to like, Oh, I hunt for food, you know, which is like completely neutral. I am I'm like, not against people hunting, per se, but the attitude behind it. And the nonchalance of destruction is, is a problem, because it's a reaction to people being against it, and then people saying, you got to double down on that in order to be a man or a, or an apex predator, or whatever, whatever it is. And, you know, so everything's just extreme, I guess. But if you do solve those inequities, man, all those kids that are like super starving somewhere, imagine if all those kids had food, to be able to have the energy to think, and to dream and to work collaboratively. And people were sharing their ideas. I mean, every pot problem could be solved. I mean, yeah, right now we have a waste of brain. Brain resources, like huge waste, barely any of it. It's crazy.

Steven Parton  39:37

That's one of the reasons I'm a techno optimist man is because I feel like if you could use technology to do something like a Resource Based Economy or to do something complex, like basic income and to help manage that huge scale of a project, and then you can say, hey, look, here's your food, here's your shelter, and here's your belonging, everybody accepts you. We're taking care of you and then immediately You lose that whole sense of like, they're gonna take my job. So I need to fight for a more bigger job, I need to go online so and become famous and make these like certain kinds of tic tocs and be the certain kind of person for people so that they'll follow me so I can become an influencer, like, you can get rid of all that motivation. And that person can just wake up and be like, How can I be the most badass version of myself today? And then give that to the world?

Reggie Watts  40:23

Yeah, man. Yeah. 100% agree with you. Yes. techne optimism? Yeah, it's it, I think, and I've always viewed it that way. I mean, I remember doing a gig for Microsoft, I think I performed in front of like, 18,000, Microsoft engineers in Las Vegas. Some, like, you know, internal, you know, kind of, I think it was, so maybe Azure, like an Azure Cloud thing. Anyways,

Steven Parton  40:49

where they lively, were they a lively bunch, you

Reggie Watts  40:51

know, they're, they're engineers, you know, they're just engineering around, they all have their railroad hats on. Now. They, you know, it was like, it was in a sports stadium. So it had like the huge jumbotron. So they had like cameras on me. And I was like, on the jumbotron. And I remember at one point, I just I said, I was like, remember, there is no problem that cannot be solved by all of us. And especially you. Engineering mindset is kind of like, to me is my favorite mindset? Because all it is, is problem solving. That's all engineering is. What's the challenge? What do we want to achieve? How do we achieve it? What's the best way to achieve Oh, it's like, collectively decide on what iteration? This isn't quite working. But we do keep this from this last iteration. We'll iterate again. So there is like a, there's a I mean, engineering isn't necessarily like people like yeah, it's such a blast being an engineer. But but that mindset of problem solving is so much fun. I love like going out in the world and going like, Oh, this is how I can I mean, I have bad habits do like you know, I'll do stuff in traffic where I'm like, I didn't really like that part of myself what I just did there or whatever, you know, it's but if you're striving to look out for people that need help, and help when you can, and don't make a big, you don't necessarily meet need to make. I think people think it's all it's so all or nothing, it's like I have to be Mother Teresa, or like, I'm nothing, you know, I have to be Gandhi or I have to like, go work for Greenpeace, and like, you know, almost drowned trying to protect whales. Like, there's such small, it's all scalable. It's like, if you're just a nice person in your neighborhood that puts your guard your neighbor's garbage cans back on the curb and closes them. That's fuckin rad. You know, if you see some rappers, you know, in a forest or whatever, you know, just pick them up and put them in your pocket and throw them away later. Or, or there's like, You're annoying. Your neighbor has like a gardener that comes by that's like using a fucking gas powered leaf blower. And which, which I've done this, but like, and then I just buy an electric leaf blower and I go here can you just use this just like solve for it, I'm just like, Oh, this try this instead. Or I saw there was a waitress the other night who was writing and it was like a really dark club. And she was like, using the candle on the table to kind of like see stuff. And I'm like, you know, they make this thing called a pilot's pen. And it has a light on the tip of the pen and it's not too bright. It's just bright enough so that you can see what you're writing. And you can use it a little bit like a flashlight for a menu or whatever. And she was like, Oh shit, and then she like looked it up and like ordered one on the spot. And I'm like, some people just don't, they don't think of things to make their lives easier. So if you're the type of person that is an optimizer, you know, and not an intrusive optimizer, but like, you know, someone who's like, Hey, would you try this and see if you like it, that's how I am I'm so I, that's my style of problem solving, or talking about, you know, the fact that you can do this on a platform is sometimes people like I never really thought of that. Like, yeah, it's like, there's so many things you can do every day to improve the world around you in a very small, very doable way. That doesn't make you feel like you know, I didn't do it. I didn't do enough good today. Like, it's not a competition.

Steven Parton  44:11

Yeah. I mean, that's one of the things I love about your style, man is that you you do innovate in ways that I think make people realize there's a whole nother direction you can take you I mean, you tend to open up little doors and windows into new trajectories and give people a pilot's pin version of you know, creative opportunity.

Reggie Watts  44:34

Yeah. Oh, that I'm glad I'm glad that comes up like that. I mean, yeah, it's, it's fun to be helpful. It always it's just like, Oh, do you need help with the groceries? Oh, excuse me, I'm gonna get the store for this person, you know, and it's it's, I don't know, I get off on it. I'm just like, Oh, I love being an aware person.

Steven Parton  44:52

That's a good thing to get off on. That. I want to I know we're coming up on the hour and I want to respect your time. Is there anything thing that you want to talk about or touch on or tell people about that you're working on before we wrap this up

Reggie Watts  45:05

yeah i mean you know I got my app wats app I'm not doing a ton on it but you can check it out it's free to download it's on iOS and Android. It's on and droid Yeah, that's that's pretty fun. There's some cool stuff there. I'll be streaming some things in the future and stuff. Other than that, I have EP coming out with my electronic music project that I do with john Tejada called wahaca and we're releasing an EP on brainfeeder three new tracks soon so look out for that and yeah, but doing stuff with Mark VBA like recording a little bit and, and stuff with a guy named Tyler Hammond Who's this 23 year old prodigy jazz drummer from I don't know where he's from he's from space. But and so we recorded some stuff to so they'll there'll be some forms of music and some forms of projects that I'm working on personally that will emerge in the future. But what's up? I should. I'll talk about it and WhatsApp and also on WhatsApp place called Instagram.

Steven Parton  46:10

And Twitter. It's good that you're forgetting. Yeah. Yeah, that's

Reggie Watts  46:13

good. Yeah. Could you imagine that a post Instagram world

Steven Parton  46:16

that one can dream? One can dream? Yeah, Reggie. Man, I really appreciate you taking the time.

Reggie Watts  46:22

Man, I appreciate the talk, man. It's nice to talk to like minded, aware individual.

Steven Parton  46:28

Yeah, cheers, man. Thank you. And now we're gonna go to a short message about our premium membership experience and how you can unlock your special offer for a two week free trial.


singularities premium membership is your chance to be part of an exclusive private community of like minded leaders and changemakers who are committed to professional growth and impact. You'll have access to a constant stream of webinars, roundtables, and professional networking events focused on exploring the key concepts and trends of exponential technology, where you'll be joined by both your peers and by a panel of academics and experts. You will also receive research and insights created and curated by our global experts, which are designed to help members gather, develop and inform action on a variety of topics and issues related to exponential technology and impact. For a limited time, we're giving podcast listeners a free two week trial membership of this premium experience, simply by going to singularity.org slash two week trial. That's singularity.org slash two as in the number two week trial, where you can click try free to begin. You'll also find this link in the show notes of the podcast.

Steven Parton  47:44

And there you have it, everybody two free weeks of premium membership ready for the taking. If you've been wanting a chance to get a look inside singularity, this is probably one of the best chances to do so. And also Let's mention the executive program we touched on in the intro. For those of you who are ready to take your next transformative leap into becoming a leader of the future. You can join us from November 7 to the 11th in Silicon Valley, where we will help you challenge what is possible. This is your chance to develop a new understanding about the role of technology in tomorrow's world and you will leave the program inspired with a new radical mindset and skill set that will help you start companies change companies and even change communities. You can learn more about this by visiting su.org slash e p 2021. Where you will be able to apply both the links for the two week free trial and the executive program are in the show notes. So be sure to check those out. Otherwise, thank you everybody for listening.

the future delivered to your inbox

Subscribe to stay ahead of the curve (and your friends) with new episodes and exclusive content from the Singularity Podcast Network.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.