Super-rich tech billionaires are planning for an apocalypse
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If you've ever wondered what the super-rich among us do with their spare time and piles of cash, it seems it's not all parties on mega-yachts and driving fancy cars.
Far from using their enormous wealth to help the planet, some billionaires are apparently using it to safeguard themselves from the apocalypse, complete societal collapse, or a similar catastrophic and world-changing event.
While some of the richest people in the world are looking at how they can escape planet Earth altogether, live inside technology or colonise Mars, other tech billionaires have been looking for advice on how to stay safe, in control and – most importantly – wealthy on Earth once such a catastrophic event does happen.
The revelation that billionaires are building bunkers in preparation for the apocalypse comes from author and humanist Douglas Rushkoff, who published an excerpt from his nonfiction book Survival of the Richest in The Guardian, which detailed what the super-rich 'preppers' are up to.
A 'humanist who writes about the impact of digital technology on our lives', Rushkoff often gives speeches in front of wealthy and influential figures. However, after accepting an invitation to address a group of 'ultra-wealthy stakeholders' in a secret location in the middle of the desert, he could tell this meeting was going to be a bit different.
"They sat around the table and introduced themselves: five super-wealthy guys – yes, all men – from the upper echelon of the tech investing and hedge-fund world," Rushkoff writes.
After asking questions like which cryptocurrency they should be stockpiling, or which is better, virtual reality or augmented reality, the topic came to 'their real topic of concern: New Zealand or Alaska? Which region would be less affected by the coming climate crisis?'
"It only got worse from there," Rushkoff writes. "Which was the greater threat: global warming or biological warfare? How long should one plan to be able to survive with no outside help?"
One CEO even asked him: "How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?"
The 'event', the author explains, was a euphemism for 'environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, solar storm, unstoppable virus, or malicious computer hack that takes everything down'.
One of the billionaires had apparently already 'secured a dozen Navy SEALs' to come to his secret bunker in the event of such a catastrophe, but he was worried about how he'd pay them 'once even his crypto was worthless'.
It seems these billionaires weren't alone, as the New York Times reported an increase in real estate agents 'specialising in private islands' being 'overwhelmed with inquiries during the Covid-19 pandemic', as others looked for an escape route.
The author also points out the irony of such tech giants seeking to escape the climate emergencies they helped create.
Though the billionaires Rushkoff met with remain unnamed, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel is one such tech giant to apply for planning permission in New Zealand to build a giant 'bunker-like lodge' in a remote part of the country, believed to be in preparation for an apocalyptic event.
However, it's not all plain sailing for the billionaire, as Queenstown-Lakes district council refused permission for the building, The Guardian reports.
Still, Rushkoff's account makes for stark reading; it suggests some of the super-rich are not concerned with using their resources to help others, or the ever-increasing effects of climate change, rising sea levels and pandemics.
Instead, he writes, the billionaires believe 'the future of technology is about only one thing: escape from the rest of us'.
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