One of the most popular topics of conversation at Silicon Valley parties is a grim one: how the world will eventually end.
That’s according to a new piece in The New Yorker about Y Combinator president Sam Altman. The story takes a close look at Altman’s life at the helm of YC and is full of fascinating nuggets — like the fact that he once got scurvy because he was working too hard to get enough Vitamin C.
But perhaps the more interesting part is how Altman and his friends thinks the world will eventually end, and how he’s prepared for it.
According to Altman, his friends often bring up their theories for the world’s demise when they’re drunk. While he says he tries not to think about the end of the world too much, Altman says the most common theories are:
- A lethal and contagious virus will be unleashed
- Artificial intelligence will become sentient and and attack us, or
- Countries around the world will wage war over scarce resources using nuclear weapons.
“People have different pet theories,”Altman told Business Insider in an email. “I think most of them don’t think the world is actually going to end, just that technology increases the volatility in the world, and there’s some tiny amount of tail risk worth planning for.”
Altman told the New Yorker that he’s ready. He’s stockpiled guns, gold, antibiotics, “gas masks from the Israeli Defence Force,” and other items, and has a “big patch of land in Big Sur” which he can fly to.
While that list is pretty impressive, preparing for survival seems to be more of a hobby for Altman than serious business.
“Yeah I have that stuff, but 1) Big Sur is my favourite place in the world anyway and 2) I think this stuff just appeals to little boy survival fantasies so I do it for fun,” he told Business Insider. “I don’t expect to ever use it.”