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Art Feeds Our Future

One of my favorite nonprofits is Art Feeds. Now there's two reasons for this.

One is the people who run Art Feeds are just fantastic human beings who do an exceptional job at what they do. Meg and Brooke and their whole team are awesome, and if you've ever had the chance to work with them, they are incredible. I actually had Meg come out and talk with a group of executives over a lunch, and just her wisdom as a young business leader is phenomenal.

The other reason I love Art Feeds is because of the work that they do now. I like that my kids love Art Feeds and get to do cool projects while they build self-esteem and learn to express themselves. I love that Art Feeds has helped tons of kids through art, but the other thing I love about Art feeds is kind of weird, so stick with me for a minute. It has to do with artificial intelligence and what the next generation is going to experience in this world.

When you think about the future of drones, artificial intelligence, and lots more automation, you can either get nervous or excited. You see futurists on both sides. The argument for being nervous is that there aren't going to be any more jobs, and everyone's going to be dependent on this level of subsistence from the government, and there'll be rioting, and it'll be this horrible, dystopian future. There are plenty of people who believe that's what's coming. You put 3 million truck drivers out of business because you have automated trucks and you've created a massive problem.

I read an interesting book that proposed the future would look like this: every citizen would receive a set amount of money each year, and each year they would choose from one of about a dozen corporations to give all that money to for the next year, and that corporation will provide the housing, food, medical treatment, etc. with different corporations specializing in different areas. Only 10% of the population had jobs, because those were the few things that were really complicated that couldn't be fully automated yet. All construction was performed by drones, all farming, likewise. And citizens sat around all day consuming entertainment, thousands of channels, and it was a violent decadent, lazy society.

I personally believe there's a different future available to us. If you haven't ever read Sir Thomas More's classic book Utopia, I'd highly recommend it. It's a fairly short book, and in it, 500 years ago, Thomas More wrote about an imaginary island called Utopia, that’s Latin for nowhere. It's a fictional account, but in it he's really using this imaginary place to explore what he thinks society could be like and should be like. If there was essentially no crime and people worked together toward the common good, then no one would actually have to work all that much. He imagines how much more prosperous every citizen could and would be, and what they would do with that extra time.

In his imagining, people would spend time on self-actualization. There would be a lot more picnics in parks and lengthy, lingering get-togethers with friends. People who were interested in poetry could devote significant time to that passion, or gardening, or art. Our future will increasingly be significantly reliant on technology. Personally, I am on the cutting edge of technology in the accounting profession. we use artificial intelligence in my firm, I love it, and I love helping clients implement those things so I'm not all against technology. I think tech will do a lot to free us to have the time, just like Thomas More imagined 500 years ago, to pursue these great things. To talk philosophy and religion and devote ourselves to things that we're passionate about in ways that are hard to do right now because we're so busy doing work that in the future can be automated.

Art Feeds is one of the nonprofits that, to me, prepares our children for this future world. Schools move slowly, and they're always going to be somewhat behind, because they're preparing kids for the world that exists now, not the world that they will inhabit 10 or 20 years from now when they graduate. But Art Feeds, by encouraging kids to explore and to express themselves through art, their whole program and the way they do things, is a lifelong skill that never goes out of style and never loses its importance and its power, even as kids become adults and the world changes around them.

Art Feeds does not exist to prepare kids for the future, but that is one of the reasons I happen to love it. Art Feeds would be a cool nonprofit that I’d support anyway, because of the people there and the good things they do for kids today, but the thing that really seals it for me and the reason we're such a big supporter of them is because I think what they're doing is actually crucial work in helping tip the scales just a little bit toward the future that Thomas More imagined, instead of that dystopian future that others have imagined for us.


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