People in Las Vegas don’t worry about tsunamis much. Lake Mead isn’t big enough to generate big waves, and the Pacific Ocean is a little too far away. That doesn’t mean we should feel complacent, however. According to futurist George Chanos, there’s another kind of cataclysmic surge headed our way that has nothing to do with water.
I met Mr. Chanos at Grouchy John’s Coffee the other day to talk about this other kind of tsunami. I had read his new book, Millennial Samurai, and I was curious about the mind from which it sprang. A combination of predictions about the future he sees us hurtling toward and self-improvement techniques, the book is a call to action and guide for living and thriving in a world in the grip of rapid change. The tsunami George Chanos wants people—especially young ones—to prepare for is the technological revolution that has only just begun. And lest you say, “Oh, he means the singularity—the point at which machines become smarter than humans,” no. That’s not what he means. The singularity will be just the beginning, he says, and it’s going to get here sooner than many people think.
George J. Chanos, Esq. served as Nevada’s 31st Attorney General from 2005 to 2007. He’s now the chairman of the board of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, Inc., which is one of the fastest growing casual restaurant franchises in the country (and revered by Las Vegans as the home of the Bobbie, a delicious invention that gives you Thanksgiving dinner on a bun, complete with stuffing and cranberry sauce). He’s also a painter, assemblage sculptor, poker player, and the author of Seize Your Destiny, a book he was inspired to write following a life-threatening heart attack.
Not quite a Las Vegas native, Chanos was born in Wisconsin but arrived in Las Vegas in time to attend kindergarten. He’s a graduate of both Valley High School and UNLV. He has lived and traveled around the country and globe.
“I see myself as a multipotentialite,” he told me, a person with broad knowledge and experience, someone who can adapt quickly and apply knowledge from one field to another. We need more of these, he says, people capable of embracing the new scenarios that advances in technology are creating at break-neck speed. “We are already experiencing a tsunami of change,” he said.
With Millennial Samurai, Chanos shares what he has learned over the course of his life and career. But the book is only the beginning of what he is working to create: a movement that empowers young people to embrace change and find solutions to the problems that inevitably arise in times of upheaval. “I want to create a Samurai army of tomorrow’s leaders,” he says.
I asked Mr. Chanos what kind of influence Las Vegas has had on his life and career. He says it’s a city that awakens creativity and exudes a sense of possibility. “It’s influenced everything about me,” he said, adding that he’s inspired by “creative, gutsy people making big bets.” I did not say then but will say now that George Chanos is himself a creative, gutsy person willing to make big bets. Read his books, check out his websites, and learn about Limitless, the new program he’s currently developing. We may not have a choice about the technological tsunami, but we can choose whether to ride that wave or get caught in the undertow.