Okay, I give.
Soylent has made it’s way onto 3/4 of the blogs that I read, and I made a “note to self” to make sure I wrote about it this week.
For those of you who live under a rock (or don’t read Startup blogs – which I wouldn’t blame you for…), Soylent is the brain-child of young entrepreneur Rob Rhinehart, a Y-combinator alum who just so happens to not be that big on eating. The company got things started with a crowd funding campaign aimed for $100,000.00 in order to create a starch / rice protein-based powder that can be mixed with water and consumed as a replacement for any and all other meals.
This is not a “breakfast shake,” it’s touted as an “everything shake.” Frankly, I wish it had come along sooner. In my bachelor days, I had $1.00 microwavale burritos and frozen vegetables for “food.” 30 seconds in the micro and eat. This takes the efficiency game to an entirely new level – and is being promoted as a potentially beneficial source of efficient nutrients that could be used anywhere. Its efficient to store, efficient to make, efficient to eat… and the founders hope it’ll help with food crises or the millions of people going hungrey in earth today.
After blowing past the $1,000,000.00 mark, Soylent began preparations for manufacturing and distribution.
Let me step back for a second.
Generally, my focus (and indeed the purpose of this site) is to hone in on technology that has the potential to alter “human potential,” and a shake just don’t cut it. It doesn’t make you a master chess player and you won’t be able to jump twice as high after you drink it. But… this shake might alter “human experience,” and it represents an kind of movement that I hope more people are keen to pick up on.
Technology facilitates alterations of our experience and – potentially – alterations in our potential, too. That is, if the “What If” behind the technology happens to bring us in that direction.
Here’s what I mean.
Fire: “What if we could find a way to stay warm in these caves?”
Cars: “What if we didn’t have to ride these smelly horses anymore?”
Internet: “What we could access information from all over the world on a shared network?”
Soylent: “What if I didn’t have to drop a hundred bucks every 9 days at the grocery store?”
The implications here are naturally much more far-reaching. Google, Elon Musk, Peter Diamandis and others are aiming to expand the human population to the moon (which makes sense when you check out the population graph…), and Kurzweil is planning on uploading his brain into more scalable and capable computational substrates.
Many MASSIVE transitions beyond our “normal” (with reference to our present circumstance) experience have already occurred thanks to enough smart people sharing the same “What if.”
I posit that if enough people “What if” about changing aspects of our consciousness or mental / physical capacities, we’ll more beyond biology rather quickly. Here are some perfectly reasonable “What ifs” that would bring us beyond our present human potential:
Emotion: “What if we didn’t have to feel anger or sorrow, or had the ability to modulate these emotions so that they weren’t destructive?”
Genetics: “What if I could safeguard my child before his birth to ensure that he didn’t have an debilitating mental conditions, or propensities for painful diseases?”
Memory: “What if I was able to ‘rewind’ my previous days, weeks, or years to find important facts or relive certain experiences, or just find my car keys?”
Identity: “What if I had the ability to lose the memory of being abused as a child… and if I could rid myself of my social anxiety and fear of others so that I could finally live a normal life?”
All four of the “What ifs” above have already been conceived before, and as technology approaches the level of being able to move towards them meaningfully… people who have these thoughts will move in those directions. In business, in innovation, in policy – these IDEAS are in fact IDEALS, they are situations, scenarios and futures to work towards.
Soylent is one idea – facilitated by technology, and promoted through technology – that will move towards some “What ifs” that someone can finally do something about.
As cliche as it sounds: One small step for Soylent is part of one giant leap for mankind.