Survivalism, the practice of preparing for the collapse of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard of beans, the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort.
In private Facebook groups, wealthy survivalists swap tips on gas masks, bunkers, and locations safe from the effects of climate change. One member, the head of an investment firm, told me, “I keep a helicopter gassed up all the time, and I have an underground bunker with an air-filtration system.” He said that his preparations probably put him at the “extreme” end among his peers. But he added, “A lot of my friends do the guns and the motorcycles and the gold coins.
According to Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, the prepper movement among tech-made billionaires is largely inspired by fear that artificial intelligence will one day displace so many jobs that there will be a revolt against those behind the technology.
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, Sam Altman of Y Combinator, Trump-loving Peter Thiel — the list goes on — are all preppers. Hoffman estimates that “50-plus percent” of other tech billionaires have a home to escape to.