Manifesto

Manifesto

We here at THE FREE LUNCH COMMISSION suspect we aren’t the only ones having an itch. It’s an itch you can’t scratch. You can’t see it, and you can’t reach it, but you feel it. It’s there all the time. And it’s a feeling of not knowing the full story. Something is hidden. Silent agreements happened that you never agreed to. It’s the feeling of being left with a bill for a meal neither ordered nor eaten. The proverbial free lunch is an interesting concept to ponder. Normally, the world spins faster; the stakes are higher. [2] For the first time in a long time, everything has slowed. The virus paused the world. So why not take a moment to think about the price of this free lunch? What are the costs of technical advancements? The price of convenience? A fast-fashion tank top sold at a bargain price in Stockholm isn’t that cheap if you think about it. Fresh Argentinian water pays for lithium batteries that power fleets of electric cars. You aren’t the customer of social media; you are the product. Free is hard to come by. THE FREE LUNCH COMMISSION’s members commit to starting discussions on the consequences of our behavior. We’ll talk to the people on the front lines of research and development, gaining a glimpse of what’s to come. THE FREE LUNCH COMMISSION comprises engineers, artists [3], scientists [4], and designers. We all have the itch. Not only are we looking for answers, but we’re also inspiring and experimenting. We want to understand. THE FREE LUNCH, we hope, will help us to make better decisions [5] and to better understand that damn bill. 

[1] It’s a manifesto that will change over time. Let’s call this v1. [2] “True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.” —Kurt Vonnegut, writer [3] “If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me to enter a quarantine-shorts fi lmmaking contest, I’d have that many more dollars than I would have even if I had won any of those contests.” —Michael J. Epstein, fi lmmaker [4] “In practice, virologists, immunologists, and epidemiologists are di erent specialists who often work far apart and almost never attend each other’s seminars. I do not think we should spend all our time learning each other’s disciplines. But I do think that a scientist who genuinely wants to solve an important problem should be open to evidence from many sources, should welcome the opportunity to expand their list of hypotheses, and should seek to increase their chances both of making a novel contribution to their fi eld and of being right. Central to this e ort is considering information from diverse kinds of studies performed by people with diverse job titles in diverse departments of the university—as well as their diverse forms of data and argumentation.” —Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology [5] “Ahh... mmm.” —Michael Richard Pence, Vice President

MEMO 01 - JULY 2020
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Ideas for change