Driving over the Sunol grade, bound south west on Interstate 680, is driving into the heart of the Silicon Valley. The south estuaries of the San Francisco Bay stretch out to the north and north west, and the vast Santa Clara Valley forms an all encompassing plain, with distant mountains covered with clouds blown up from the Pacific shore.
Driving into the Silicon Valley, in the summer of 1999, is driving into a place which is the epicenter of the greatest civilizational shift in human history. For the first time, humans are acquiring a collective information nervous system. We may end up like Borg, or we may end as bundles of pure, metaphysical energy, or something else, but our race is changing.
Sixty years ago, in the summer of 1939, we lived on the brink of World War II, and the epicenter was somewhere between London and Berlin. That our race could engage in total war between all industrialized nations, across the entire face of the planet, in a cataclysm that culminated in the dropping of two atomic bombs, was also part of this epochal shift in the human race. That was nothing compared to 1999.
Seventy years ago, in the summer of 1929, we lived on the brink of the great depression, on the eve of the first world wide financial collapse, and the epicenter was New York City. That the world could invent such international financial interdependence, and such fantastic speculative financial tools, was also part of this epochal shift in the human race. That was nothing compared to 1999.
The Silicon Valley in 1999 is home to the best and brightest technical minds that have ever been assembled, from everywhere on earth, and in all the labs and on the manufacturing floors and in the programmers cubicles we are recreating ourselves. Humans are using technology to create memory and sensory and logical elements of our minds, and the energy of this shift pours out of the buildings onto the freeways when you drive in the Silicon Valley. All I could think about was how much I’d like to have one of those Humvees.
The internet took a stock market that was strong, and made it soar, and there are scores of thousands of millionaires, and quite a number of billionaires, driving the freeways and renting videos and dining out, in the Silicon Valley. Coming into the town of Palo Alto, driving on University Ave., I was looking at the Magnolia trees and nearly hit one of the Humvees. Next to me at the stoplight was the founder of an internet goliath. Behind me at McDonalds the hacker who wrote a Red Hat hit, flush with cash.
We are in the long boom of technology growth, experiencing the internet iteration. The iteration that overshadows all the others. For the first time, all the souls in the world can communicate with all the souls in the world. Overnight, compared to previous epochal shifts, the human race is evolving from sentient primates to something higher.