In 1993, two of Rick’s friends were gunned down in a parking lot. It led to him questioning the culture of guns and gun violence in the United States. He began thinking about what he could do to make the bullet as obsolete as the horse-and-buggy. Out of that insight, a company and a product were born. In 2019, Rick will release his new book, The End of Killing, about his journey and his vision for a safer, less violent world in which alternative, less-lethal methods are so effective that no one needs to reach for a gun. He believes that guns will soon be an outdated vestige of a bygone era…
Harvard Professor Steven Pinker has documented the surprising and undeniable drop in violence and killings over the past 2,000 years in his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.” Rick Smith builds upon these lessons from history with a forward leaning view into the future where we can accelerate this trend to its final end-point: where killing is no longer accepted as part of human society.
Hundreds of years ago, wars were widely accepted as glorious struggles of empires and murder in the name of honor was a commonly accepted practice for settling disputes or repaying insults. Today, deaths from both wars and murder have dropped dramatically from historic levels. Now, the practice of killing is only accepted in high risk situations where there is no other choice.
Rick makes the argument that what we need are those other choices. Once police have weapons that are more effective than the last century’s bullets, yet which do not kill, the justification to take lives in the name of protecting the public will fade into obscurity. Even in warfare, killing is, more often than not, counter productive to the strategic goals at hand.
If we are to stand on the shoulders of history and continue our progress toward a world where killing is no longer accepted as an immutable habit of humanity, we need to use our creativity and imagination to tackle the remaining cases where we kill today, and create the tools and technology to resolve them tomorrow without continuing to rely upon violent means to keep us safe.
Far from the typical pacifist, Rick brings an innovator’s edge to social problems that have defied political solutions. From the war on drugs to the weaponizing of drones, he challenges conventional thinking to reframe intractable problems into solvable challenges.
Rick speaks around the world to audiences of thousands about the need to reduce violent killing and about how technology can offer us a better way forward. In 2017, he spoke at Singularity University Global Summit on “Future State: The End of Killing,” and in 2015, he spoke on a SXSW panel entitled “Beyond the Cloud: Big Data in the Off-Planet Era.” He will be speaking at SXSW again in 2019 about his upcoming book The End of Killing. Rick is an annual speaker at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference and gives the keynote at Accelerate, the largest thought-leadership conference for public safety professionals. Other notable conferences at which he’s spoken include Innovation AZ 2013 and AZ Business Leadership Association 2011. His recent broadcast and podcast appearances include CNBC’s Mad Money, Fox Business, and NPR Weekend Edition.