Resetting the Hero Code

by Marie Lena Tupot and Tim Stock

This morning, Robert C. Hockett, Cornell Professor of Law, discussed the Silicon Valley Bank situation on CNN. Hockett emphasized that the moment we are in is one of reindustrialization. We are back to making things. Hockett calls out the renewed importance of sector-specific banks, functioning as defacto credit unions and managed prudently. The situation has caught everyone off guard. Why? One reason Hockett cites is that the U.S. hasn’t had an interest rise like this in 50 years.

Agreed, but there is another phenomenon we are seeing. The narrative of hero code. Silicon Valley Bank has functioned along the lines of hero code. It was founded by former Bank of America managers in 1983 over a game of poker (Piscione, 2013). The most recent Wired Magazine‘s interview with Hockett asks “Is it sensible for a single bank to dominate an industry?” and uses words such as “rescue.”

With reindustrialization and a move back to maker culture, the notion of hero has long been losing its relevance.

This makes sense when we hear Hockett bring up the 1970s’ Volcker Era. PBS discussed Volcker in November 2022: “Ultimately, it took a crackdown by cigar-chomping Fed chairman Paul Volcker to break the cycle of rising prices and wages. Volcker slammed the brakes on the economy by raising interest rates to 20% — tough medicine to prove he was serious about getting inflation under control” (Horsley, 2022).

Heroes are not about “tough medicine.”

We can look at what hero code really means through the lens of developing AI and the design of ideal artificial moral agents: applying bravery, courage, integrity (Wiltshire, 2015). It’s a bit alarming though that in the age of ChatGPT, the most recent archetypal discussion looks at only the hero.

We have come so far from that framework, and are now stuck with heroes. Some right-wing memes even take issue with extending the honor of hero to healthcare frontline workers, believing hero lives only in the realm of law enforcement.

A hero is only one archetype that makes the world go ‘round.

We need to diversify our understanding of human behavioral codes. Karl Jung established nine archetypes. They each play a role in human culture. We look at each archetype to better understand centers of gravity. 

The everyman, ruler, caregiver, innocent, lover, hero, jester, creator, explorer, magician, sage, and rebel. They all live out there at the same moment. To date, the hero stands alone having devolved into a dreaded narcissist. Hello, Russell Brand. Guardian columnist George Monbiot says he “once admired Russell Brand. But his grim trajectory shows us where politics is heading.”

We need a clear process of information gathering and intelligence to understand the cognitive spaces behind these discussions.

Director John Walker’s 2019 documentary Assholes: A Theory is onto something. “BAD behavior is as old as human history, something we all encounter at some point—whether on the playground, in the workplace or in public life. But the phenomenon seems to be amplified in an age of venomous social media and resurgent authoritarian politics.”

The academics, including Hockett, interviewed in support of the hypothesis are pretty remarkable. Although, the documentary makers are liberally using the term “theory” at this point. 

Works cited:

Horsley, S. (2022, September 29). Memories of the 1970s haunt the Fed, pushing its aggressive rate moves. NPR. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from,about%20getting%20inflation%20under%20control. 

Lichfield, G. (2023, March 13). Silicon Valley will still need a bank. Wired. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from

Monbiot, G. (2023, March 10). I once admired Russell Brand. but his grim trajectory shows us where politics is heading | George Monbiot. The Guardian. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from 

Piscione, D. P. (2013, April). Secrets of Silicon Valley: What everyone else can learn from the innovation capital of the world. Palgrave Macmillan.

Walker, J. (Director). (2019). Assholes: A Theory [Film]. A John Walker Production.

Wiltshire, T. J. (2015, February 14). A prospective framework for the design of ideal artificial moral agents: Insights from the science of heroism in humans – minds and machines. SpringerLink. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from