New Axe for Old Tribe

Growing up in Korea, we heard the Gold Axe, Silver Axe story which I later found out was descended from the Honest Woodsman from Aesop’s fable. For telling the truth, the honest woodsman is gifted the gold axe, silver axe, and his original axe. A greedy logger who sees the honest one get these, tries but ends up losing even his original rusted axe.  Maybe karma.

The second time I heard a story about an axe was in a Cultural Anthropology class in the US.  It was about an scientist who found a culture which had not invented the axe.  What an opportunity!  The scientist was excited to present this axe to the society to record how the people would jump to developing new tools using the axe  .  The scientist brought the axe to the people and surprise!

The people who used to spend maybe 8 hours to do the work around their village were able to get it done in about 2 hours with this new axe tool.  Guess what they did with the remaining hours?  Instead of working at using the axe technology to carve out a more sophisticated society, the men and women used the rest of the time for leisure.  Now they had all this time to relax, enjoy life.

Very simple lessons for me .  First, what axe type tools are available to us now that we are not maximizing to carve out the best future for us.  William Gibson said that the future is already here; it’s just not very evenly distributed.  Secondly, when we use the axe correctly to create meaningful robots and AI, we will be able to enjoy most of our waking hours instead of doing mind-numbing monotonous chores which we were not made to do.

Engage with me on Twitter (@charlesjo) and if you are a building the future with your axe, join my growing community of founders and investors at

3 thoughts on “New Axe for Old Tribe

  1. What’s interesting is that those boring monotonous tasks are how invention is moved from idea to reality. In other words you can’t get the axe without spending an incredible amount of time grinding away at the stone.

    1. 2nd warning: I said engage on twitter 😉

      Re: monotonous work — for the inventors, builders, the work that seems monotonous is anything but. The builder knows that this her work will create something amazing. For others who don’t see the vision, the work will appear monotonous. Meaning and purpose is important. Possibly a first world problem though.

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