The angry optimist
Hi and welcome!
During the days I spend most of my time as CEO of Warp News. At night I... mostly sleep. Or at least I used to before my son Teddy was born.
I live in Sweden in a small cottage with my wife Emma, Teddy and a cat called Carlos. I'm really a dog person, but Carlos showed up here as a kitten, we took care of him and he decided to stay and employ us. After Carlos got pregnant we realized he was a she. But let's say that Carlos identifies as a dad.
I used to be a Member of Parliament, but decided not to run for reelection in 2018, because I had gotten so angry – and so optimistic.
I had just been named to the third-highest position in my party when I announced to the party members back home that I would not run for reelection.
When they asked why I said I wanted to make the future come sooner.
Confused they ask: "How?!"
"I've founded Warp Institute," I said.
"What?! Wrap Institute? What is that, catering?"
"No, no, WARP Institute."
That didn't make it much clearer for them.
I had become increasingly angry over how pessimists were seen as intelligent and rational when, in reality, they are naive and irrational.
I became frustrated when optimists were mocked and likened to happy dogs, when it is the optimists who have created all the good we have in society - and will create our future.
I was increasingly annoyed with the news media for their focus on negative news and misleading alarming misleading. They claim to be impartial, but it's hard to believe anything other than that doomsday is coming if you follow their news coverage.
I was tired of people being so quick to focus on problems, instead of opportunities. When they saw something new revolutionary, their brains kicked into high gear to come up with a problem. Very rarely did they find a problem that was not already well thought out, or already solved.
All these things pissed me off, and I got angrier and angrier.
At the same time, I got more and more optimistic about the future of humanity.
The saddest story ever, is also the happiest now. Even before I had Teddy in my life, I hardly couldn't read this without tearing up. Now it's impossible.
Two hundred years ago almost half of all children died—nearly 50 percent.
Look at the children around you and imagine half of them dead. Maybe you think that is macabre, but that was reality for your grandfather's grandfather's father.
But today this is an increasingly optimistic story.
Today, the number of child deaths has decreased ten times, to less than four percent. Since 1990, it has more than halved, from almost 13 million children who died before the age of five to just over five million. We see a sharp decline in all countries of the world. Niger has gone from one in three children dying in 1990, to less than ten percent now. Iceland is the best, where only 0.21 percent die.
So still five million kids die every year, which is an unimaginable many. But this is something we can fix. Optimists are great at envisioning a positive future, making them want to get there as fast as possible.
Humanity still has many big problems, but almost all of them are getting smaller – and we can fix them all.
Doing something about it – Warp Institute
After getting angrier and angrier I realized this doesn't make anything better.
Using my optimism I envisioned a different future.
A world where optimists are seen as rational and pessimists as naive.
With balanced news media, showing a fact-based view of the world.
And people thinking first of possibilities before diving into the problems.
I also didn't want to wait decades for all the positive developments in the world. I wanted them to happen as soon as possible.
I understood this would be very hard to change, but I knew it was possible, and over the years I had gained important insights, giving me an edge in this task.
The most important insight was that I couldn't do this alone, and thanks to the internet it was easier than ever to find the people to work with.
Make the future come sooner
Therefore I founded the non-profit Warp Institute Foundation with the mission to make the future come sooner.
The idea was to gather optimistic, forward-looking people from all over the world in a community. These ideas will be born and some of those ideas Warp Institute could facilitate.
Those projects and companies will make the future come sooner, but they will also inspire others to come up with their ideas. The knowledge created will also be shared.
One such idea is the Warp Space Program, which was born out of the idea to help fund the first private mission to an asteroid. If we are successful in that, we can support more space projects. Our community will see and learn, and come up with more space projects.
This will happen over and over, creating a stronger community with more ideas, money and knowledge to make even more optimistic ideas come through.
Warp News - fact-based optimistic news
Our most important project now is Warp News, where we create content around fact-based optimistic news.
This in itself will help balance the negative news media and make people more optimistic about the future. The more optimists we have, the more ideas, the more progress towards that future.
But Warp News also helps people find the Warp Institute community. More ideas and projects coming out of the Warp community means more fact-based optimistic news to report on.
A very positive flywheel has then been created.
The Optimist's Edge
What important truth do very few people agree with you on?
Peter Thiel posed that question in his book Zero to One.
In the answer lies great opportunity. A great invention or revolutionary idea is rare; otherwise, it wouldn't be an important truth that few people agree with you on.
Most people can't answer this question, but a fact-based optimist has several answers.
The reason is that a fact-based optimist sees the world as it is.
In my case I almost made this error with bitcoin. I saw the early headlines of bitcoin being used to buy drugs, weapons and even murders. So I completely ignored bitcoin.
By chance I stumbled upon an article by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, claiming that bitcoin and blockchain could be a similar-sized opportunity as the internet. One of the fathers of the web compared this new technology to the internet - wow, this is something I must understand more about.
So I did, and after a while was convinced that Andreessen was right. In 2014 when I ran for Parliament, I only accepted campaign donations in bitcoin, becoming the world's first candidate to do that.
Since then the price of bitcoin has increased several thousand percent and blockchain is changing the financial system and many other sectors.
Most people still don't realize this, because there are still so many negative headlines about bitcoin. Back in 2014 almost no one did.
This is just one example, and there are thousands of answers out there to Peter Thiel's question.
In 2017, when I founded Warp Institute and decided to leave politics, it was those kinds of insights that made it was possible for me to realize it could be done. That it was doable to make the future come sooner, and how.
The insights gave me an edge. Today we call this The Optimist's Edge, but I didn't have a word for it back then.
A library of optimistic edges
Through Warp News and Warp Institute we are now building a library of optimistic edges: How little you need to save to go to space in ten years. How fast will electric cars replace gas cars? How finding love online is better than offline. How an almost unknown law is the best predictor of technological progress and much more.
Every week the library grows stronger. Over time this will become a very powerful tool in creating the future.
We share these edges with the community and out of the ideas, projects and companies will be born.
All of them will make the future come sooner.
The future is created by optimists
In politics you work together with others, collaborating in a party. But since you are always competing for positions against others, also in your own party, you are pretty alone.
I'm not alone anymore, and I'm surrounded by the best kind of people: The optimists of the world.
Magnus, Linn, Rich, Eric, Cornelia, Sadira, Tomas, Carolina, Max, Per and many others.
If we can welcome most of the world's optimists into this community, we will change the world and create a better future faster - and I won't be angry anymore, just optimistic.
If you want to join our community there is a free weekly newsletter with fact-based optimistic news. The weekly Optimist's Edge articles are only available to our Premium Supporters. You can test being a Premium Supporter for 30 days for free.