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Bezos Says He’ll Spend ‘Amazon Lottery Winnings’ on Space Travel (bloomberg.com)
25 points by dsr12 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 53 comments

The article's profile image of Bezos eating an iguana should be an article all by itself.

Yeah that was gross. I used to have pet iguanas, so that pic was just about as disturbing as seeing that platter with a dog or cat on it.

Reminded me of this:

Bezos had ordered a dish called Tom’s Big Breakfast, a preparation of Mediterranean octopus that includes potatoes, bacon, green garlic yogurt, and a poached egg. “You’re the octopus that I’m having for breakfast,” Rutledge remembers Bezos saying. “When I look at the menu, you’re the thing I don’t understand, the thing I’ve never had. I must have the breakfast octopus.” [0]

[0] https://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/2014/july/...

It was my first reaction too, but when you think about it, a steak or some bacon probably wouldn't seem disturbing and these animals have way more advanced brains.

Next time you are in the Florida Keys you may give it a try. That's how they are solving the overpopulation.

I don't find it to be a big deal. Everyone in my group tried iguana in Curacao where it's illegal to hunt them. They're absolutely everywhere but you can eat the ones that are farm raised so they show up on the menu at many places.

But yeah if you have a pet iguana your perception will be vastly different. If you come from an island full of them where it's normal to eat them then you wouldn't think twice about it. If you're somewhere in the middle of that spectrum you'll either be the curious type, the snakes/lizards are gross/not for food type, or be the non-adventurous type.

I wouldn't make a habit of eating iguana or horse or other things many would consider oddities but if I'm visiting a place where it's part of their culture I'll see what it's about.

I wrote my reply before I looked at the photo and while I have a different perspective than you, I agree that the photo is gross. It's one thing to eat an iguana but another to present it that way and take a photo eating it creepily haha.

In Europe, many people eat horse steaks, snails, frog legs, and rabbits. Are these similarly disturbing?

People have pet chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs, goats etc. and we eat all those.

Could a space enthusiast explain the utilitarian point of space travel to me? Space is cool, but it seems like most of the posited uses for space are either extremely speculative (asteroid mining) or a "solution" to a doomsday scenario (a small colony surviving if humans can't survive on Earth).

Let me ask you this: when you think about our future in 100-200 years, what do you see?

Do you really see us sitting around here and just being? Just stagnating? Waiting for the real-estate and resources to finally run out?

If you don't, or hope that it's not what all of this amounts to, the only question remaining should be "if not now, then when?".

Living in space or another planet requires the highest levels of sustainability. Necessity is the mother of invention. Everything learned in space will be used on Earth where applicable.

From a technology point of view, one of the collateral benefits of space exploration is that the technology and science that will come from that effort can be used elsewhere.

> James Watson, who co-discovered the structure of DNA, advised Bezos to spend just a quarter of his fortune on space exploration, so he can take care of this planet’s needs. “

This is an odd opinion to have here. I thought Bezos was clear that Blue Origin is all about protecting the Earth in the first place! The stated goal of Blue Origin is to stop all mining and manufacturing on Earth, to move it off-world, and leave Earth a peaceful place to live and generally hang out.

The entire purpose of Blue Origin is to stop humanity from resource-extracting-and-polluting Earth's oceans, land and water. I cannot envision a way Bezos would be better suited to personally spend his money on solving Earth problems than the way he has just posited.

> The stated goal of Blue Origin is to stop all mining and manufacturing on Earth, to move it off-world, and leave Earth a peaceful place to live and generally hang out.

Wow, I hadn't heard Blue Origin's vision stated like that. I think it's a great idea. Elon Musk gets a lot of press for his "Mars backup plan" vision; why doesn't Blue Origin promote their vision more heavily?

Here's Bezos talking about it: https://www.geekwire.com/2016/interview-jeff-bezos/

And interestingly, it's a vision he has had in some form since at least high school: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/for-bezos-th...

If we want to protect the Earth, then we need to address the elephant in the room which is the insane number of humans on the planet and the resources needed to keep them alive.

It's crucial that we help third world countries rise from poverty so women can get an education and be something else than baby making machines.

Bill Gates is doing wonderful things in this regard.

> stop humanity from resource-extracting-and-polluting Earth's oceans, land and water

I'm not sure I see the connection. I'd argue most of the damage we're doing to the earth is not industrial: overfishing the oceans, raising cattle, slash and burn agriculture, extracting and burning hydrocarbons, transportation, waste disposal. Moving industry off planet is fine but we still need to address these things.

Now, if you want to move a bunch of humans off planet, that would be super.

Perhaps I oversimplified. Bezos would also like to move millions of people off-planet as well. Additionally, it's not just mining and manufacturing, but nearly all of humanity's Earthly activities can be done in space. There is some more details about his vision in this WaPo piece: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/jeff-bezos-p...

> Bezos would also like to move millions of people off-planet as well.

In Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy, one of the points made is that even with multiple space elevators, you could never move more people off the planet than are being born on it at the same time. Consequently, space exploration is not a cure for overpopulation. KSR researched this 25 years ago, has the math on that changed?

A more humble suggestion for saving the Earth: re-plant the trees that went into packaging Amazon's deliveries.

Paper and cardboard generally come from fast-growing pine plantations. Those are replanted as soon as they're harvested.

I would like to see him put a big chunk into a fusion research skunkworks.

Bezos is an investor in General Fusion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Fusion

Would make sense to help power AWS...

Who knew they do own some solar and wind assets: https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/sustainability/

Kinda sad to see when organization like the Against Malaria Foundation and GiveDirectly could absorb hundreds of millions in additional funding. I know long-term thinking, break-through technologies, blah, blah, blah, but spending $3000 to save a life via mosquito nets or $500/year to raise someone out of extreme seem like easy, immediate wins that should be prioritized.

Yep. This has way higher priority than even most other charities too. Sometimes I compare the policies of "homeless maintenance" in the US to what it could be done in the third world. I would re-allocate funds in a second if I was hegemon.

That's great that he gets to spend the massive amounts of wealth he's accumulated through monopolistic business practices, ruthlessly exploiting his labor force (or his "contractors" labor force) and avoiding taxes on his pet hobby, but I'd prefer we just take the money and spend it on things people actually need.

Yes, I was going to say, it's not a "lottery win" at all. All his employees have contributed to the pot (their salaries are less than the company profits+capital gains), and as the company owner, he's the automatic winner.

You'd think he could put some of that money towards not abusing his own employees. https://gizmodo.com/reminder-amazon-treats-its-employees-lik...

How about he spend it on paying his workers a living wage?

Oh come on.

When we talk about him, personally, that's his wealth. He can give it to charity, use it to improve the world or burn it on pleasures. It's his money that society agreed to give him - it's society that owes him. I know the system has many flaws, FED etc. but this in general is how money works. You give something, and in exchange you get right to receive something.

When we talk about Amazon he decided to optimize for customer, not employee satisfaction. I'm not a fan of what Amazon is doing currently (as an e-commerce) but when you sum amount of welfare it provided over the whole humanity, it seems quite possible that it is a very positive number - I'm assuming unhappiness of employees counts negatively towards it. Apart from the whole economical aspect, creating work places and opportunities for other companies to create them, just looking at cheaper prices, let's say employee A earns $500 less than he could. And that per one employee we have 10,000 customers in similar living situation that saved $20. The net result for people in this life situation is $200,000 - $500.

And then there's difficult problem of general optimization function if you want to do whatever best you can for the humanity. Given GCRs associated with all of us living on the same rock, if you think about humanity as a whole and its future, it may turn out that space exploration has extremely high priority and it would be EV+ even if we would have to scarify lives of most of those currently alive.

Legally, yes it's his wealth. Who's actually built the company though, him alone? It really should belong to eveyone who's helped built it.

I mean, if he is spending the money on space-tech, he is putting it back into someone's wages. So would it be better if he put it back in the pockets of the 500,000 workers who are already contributing to the economy (and they are already making slightly above market rate for their labor), or would you rather him invest in these new jobs?

Because thats his perogative?

I don't understand why you think this is a good argument. There are plenty of things people are allowed to do that they really shouldn't.

Its not a justification, it is a matter of fact that his decision making is not dependent on the masses' value system outside the realm of law.

Thats what anti trust laws are for.

I perceive any such talk that he should spend his money a certain way as propaganda.

So your argument is "anything you can legally get away with is morally acceptable"?


An argument posits that there is a factual inconsistency that needs to be clarified through dialogue.

What you are proposing is a debate.

I AM NOT DEBATING - I am stating the fact that in American society the people have political vehicles to enforce cultural morality as codified through law.

And i continue this dialogue because it is important for people to recognize that using morality as a metric is arbitrary when discussion such matters necause at the end of the day morality varies from pers9n to person and culture to culture

That's...not how debate works. You can't just declare that you're not debating while continuing to debate, at least not when we're debating matters of opinion like moral responsibilities.

You are clearly filtering my messages. I have zero desire pursuing this alleged dialogue.

All i am trying to communicate is that he can do what ever he wants.

> I have zero desire pursuing this alleged dialogue.

And yet you keep doing it.

prerogative, and yeah - if you're the richest person on the planet it would be nice if the employees that got you there weren't living paycheck to paycheck.

but he may not be so rich if his workers didn't live paycheck to paycheck...

He'd rather get off planet than deal with the needs of all you plebes.

To explain my downvote: not contributing to the conversation.

He pays the workers the lowest wages they will consent to work for, just like all employers.

Don’t blame employers for the iron law of wages.

It's not an iron law. Plenty of employers spend more money, in order to increase retention and productivity. Believe it or not, there are many employers who actually care and see their employees as human.

You're under the misconception that businesses should be run as charities and those businesses that are not are harming the world. This is simply not true.

Paying the market wage, meaning the best (lowest) price you can find that meets all of your requirements for quality of service, is still contributing to the global economy.

And by making your firm more productive, you are increasing the pool of goods/services that the world's consumers can divide amongst themselves. That's how for profit enterprises contribute to a rising standard of living.


They are not mutex. You can actually care about your employees, see them as human, and pay them an amount that you both mutually consent to, which is what Amazon is doing.

> You can actually care about your employees, see them as human

Amazon doesn't. That's the point.

You are wildly oversimplifying the iron law of wages. It does not say "it is morally acceptable for employers to treat employees as badly as they can possibly get away with."

No one is entitled to a job. They are willing to do the work asked of them in exchange for the pay they receive. They are not victims and Amazon is not mistreating them.

More generally, this idea that paying more is better for the world is misguided and over-simplistic. You can often reduce suffering in the world more by paying 100 very poor people sweat shop wages than 10 middle class people developed world wages, and that is the kind of choice you have to make when deciding how to spend your capital.

We cannot simply increase the wealth at our disposal and pay all 100 people high wages. Scarcity of resources is a reality we have to be mature enough to contend with, and that means looking at more than just the direct and immediate effects, and factoring in opportunity costs, to weigh the trade-offs.

If you want to argue that, due to scarcity, we can't maximize global quality of life without mistreating some people, that is least a coherent argument.

There is no coherent argument that Amazon isn't treating its employees poorly, even relative to other companies in the same fields. Read some articles about working conditions at Amazon. This one's a decent starting point: https://gizmodo.com/reminder-amazon-treats-its-employees-lik...

I know about the difficult working conditions, but calling it mistreatment implies Amazon doesn't have a right to offer these terms in the free market, and that the employees would be better off if they didn't have the jobs.

The working conditions are voluntarily assumed by the employees, so it can't be mistreatment, and the terms offered are the best the employees could find on the market, so they are better off for these jobs existing. I don't see the rationale behind calling it mistreatment and implying Amazon is having w negative impact.

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