Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing ponders the future!
Danny, let’s get something out of the way.
Today on FeedDemon I came across your name four times. Within the span of a year you’ve exploded onto the online marketing scene. Your book, ENGAGEMENT from scratch!, fulfills what Corbett Barr meant when he said: “Write epic shit.” Thank you for this public resource, Danny.
Now, in the foreword of your book, C.C. Chapman wrote: “…The successful ones among us are the ones who share all sides of themselves.”
In honor of what he said, let’s forget about your marketing success. I’ll avoid marketing-related questions. Instead, I’ll ask questions about the future. I will let my mind soar when asking these questions—and I invite you to let your mind soar when answering them. Danny, you’re a masterful communicator, innovator, self-evolver, and, from what I’ve glimpsed, a man of the future. You’re a beacon of forward-thinking. I can tell you appreciate collaboration, authenticity, love, transparent communication… and these are ideals the human species will have to embrace if we are to survive. In a nutshell: I know you’ll give great answers to my future-related questions, and I’m excited. Let’s get started.
Are you a fan of science fiction?
Danny: Yes, but not a hard-core fan. I’ve enjoyed Star Trek, but haven’t religiously seen every episode, and I’m not familiar with the more obscure science fiction that’s out there. Loved Ender’s Game, though (read the whole series).
What scares you most about the future: killer robots, rogue asteroids, rampant engineered viruses, mass starvation… or something else?
Danny: Honestly, the future doesn’t scare me. Not that I don’t think some of those things might happen (engineered viruses probably being the most likely), but I think that life always involves risks, and that isn’t something exclusive to the future. And at the same time, I have confidence in the aggregate human capacity for coming up with creative solutions to novel problems… so whatever it is, we’ll figure it out.
I’m 29! I think we’re close, age-wise. Do you think you’ll set foot on Mars in our lifetime?
Danny: Yup, we’re almost exactly the same age – I’ll be 29 in July. And just to clarify, by “we” you mean humanity, not you and me, right? If you mean humanity, then I don’t know whether we’ll set foot on Mars, but I think that if we don’t it’s going to be because of political and budgetary constraints, rather than technological ones. If it’s you and me, then I can say with 75% certainty that the answer is no (100% for me, since I’m not interested, and 50% for you, since I don’t know if you’re interested, but I believe that people can generally achieve whatever they want if they work hard enough, and get the right help).
I was assuming a lot when I said you appreciate collaboration, authenticity, love, and transparent communication. So what kind of ideals do you think the human species should embrace–and do you think we will survive if we don’t accept those ideals past a critical mass?
Danny: Hmmm… tricky question, but I’ll do my best. I do appreciate the things that you described, and I think that as a global society, that’s the direction that we’re moving in. When I discuss this stuff with people, I get the sense that they’re concerned, like we have to push the world in the right direction, or else bad things will happen. I don’t agree with that part; I see things from a business standpoint, because business is what I do, and I don’t see the dichotomy between the “smart thing” and the “right thing”. I think that in the big picture and the long run, doing the right thing and being a good person is smart business, and especially in a world that is as interconnected and transparent as ours (and while there are still huge transparency gaps, I don’t think anyone can argue that access to information is worse now than it was centuries ago).
Imagine a future where our brains are connected digitally. We’re evolving towards that future, and it’s certain to happen (excepting anomalous unforeseen events). We will be connected, sending communications at near-light speed. What do you feel/think about this?
Danny: I’m not sure that I agree with your assumption, because while the *technology* for that may be available, I’m not sure if the same will be true of the demand, or of our ability to comfortably use that technology. Remember that computers are capable of processing information a lot faster than our biological brains are; I think at some point our own cognitive abilities will become the constraint on further development in terms of what we’re able to do.
How do you feel about autonomous (driverless) automobiles?
Danny: Do you mean in concept, or in practice right now? In concept, I’m fine with them, and I think that people who resist the notion don’t consider how good (or bad) most human drivers actually are. In practice right now, I don’t know – I haven’t really looked into it, so I don’t know how mature the technology is.
What kind of technologies do you think we’ll be using in 5 years? 20 years? 100 years? 1,000 years? 10,000 years?
Danny: I’m not going to speculate about that, because historically speaking, most such speculation has been incredibly wrong. Besides, if I did have an idea for a technology that would share the world, I’d be busy building it myself!
What do you think is the biggest threat to the continued survival of the human species? If something kills us all off, what will it be?
Danny: I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that it’ll be something we won’t see coming.
We’re currently genetically modifying plants and animals to serve our needs. We’re not far from genetically engineering animals capable of speech. I know I’d be the first to buy an 8-inch pet monkey with an IQ of 130 (human standards)! But is it ethical for us to be engineering smarter animals? How do you feel about it? And would you buy a genius monkey?
Danny: I don’t think you’re right about how close we are to genetically engineering animals capable of *meaningful* human speech (i.e. not just that they can talk, but they have meaningful and relevant things to say). But hypothetically speaking, if we could create 8-inch monkeys with IQs of 130, then I don’t think I’d be comfortable with them being bought and sold as pets; wouldn’t that amount to slavery?
When you think about the future, what do you see in your mind’s eye?
Danny: Tons of opportunity!
Anything else you want to say, about this article or the future?
Danny: About the article, I’ll say thank you – this was fun!
About the future, I’ll say that it is important to keep in mind that the biggest constraint acting on us as a global society is not technology, or resources, or anything like that – it’s the limits that individuals place on their imaginations, and their inability to turn thought into action. The future is ours to create, so we might as well think big, work hard, and make it a good one.
Danny Iny (@DannyIny), a.k.a. the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”, teaches marketing that works at Firepole Marketing. Together with Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark and Mitch Joel, he wrote the book on building engaged audiences from scratch (available on Amazon, or as a free download).