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Is San Francisco losing its openness?

Sam Altman has an interesting post up on his blog talking about what he feels is a changing cultural environment in San Francisco (which is where he is based). His argument is that heresies are good for innovation and for moving the world forward. We need people to question established norms. But for that to happen we need environments and cities that encourage it, or at the very least allow it.

Here’s an excerpt:

Restricting speech leads to restricting ideas and therefore restricted innovation—the most successful societies have generally been the most open ones.  Usually mainstream ideas are right and heterodox ideas are wrong, but the true and unpopular ideas are what drive the world forward.  Also, smart people tend to have an allergic reaction to the restriction of ideas, and I’m now seeing many of the smartest people I know move elsewhere.

In San Francisco he is starting to feel that it is becoming increasingly difficult to have wacky ideas and to work on wacky startups. And for this reason, people are starting to leave the city in search of more open cultures. Openness used to be a hallmark of San Francisco. It was once the epicenter of counterculture. Has that changed?

Here is a final excerpt:

I don’t know who Satoshi is, but I’m skeptical that he, she, or they would have been able to come up with the idea for bitcoin immersed in the current culture of San Francisco—it would have seemed too crazy and too dangerous, with too many ways to go wrong.  If SpaceX started in San Francisco in 2017, I assume they would have been attacked for focusing on problems of the 1%, or for doing something the government had already decided was too hard.  I can picture Galileo looking up at the sky and whispering “E pur si muove” here today.

Click here to read the full post.

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