18 episodes

It's the question of our times: How is technology impacting our humanity? "Should This Exist?" invites the creators of radical new technologies to set aside their business plan, and think through the human side: What is the invention’s greatest promise? And what could possibly go wrong? Show host Caterina Fake (Partner, Yes VC; Cofounder Flickr) is a celebrated tech pioneer and one of Silicon Valley’s most eloquent commentators on technology and the human condition. Joined by a roster of all-star expert guests who have a knack for looking around corners, Caterina drops listeners into the minds of today’s ingenious entrepreneurs and guides them through the journey of foreseeing what their technology might do to us, and for us. Should This Exist? is a WaitWhat original series in partnership with Quartz.

Should This Exist? WaitWhat

    • Technology
    • 4.7 • 22 Ratings

It's the question of our times: How is technology impacting our humanity? "Should This Exist?" invites the creators of radical new technologies to set aside their business plan, and think through the human side: What is the invention’s greatest promise? And what could possibly go wrong? Show host Caterina Fake (Partner, Yes VC; Cofounder Flickr) is a celebrated tech pioneer and one of Silicon Valley’s most eloquent commentators on technology and the human condition. Joined by a roster of all-star expert guests who have a knack for looking around corners, Caterina drops listeners into the minds of today’s ingenious entrepreneurs and guides them through the journey of foreseeing what their technology might do to us, and for us. Should This Exist? is a WaitWhat original series in partnership with Quartz.

    A world without our devices

    A world without our devices

    Could you, would you, go one full hour without your phone? The average American spends one-third of their waking hours on a smartphone; we’ve been told our devices make life better, faster, and easier. What happens when we choose to live without them – or when we are forced to? In this episode, we’ll talk to media studies professor Douglas Rushkoff, get the down low from a U.S. senator who sat in a “digitally sequestered” hearing for three weeks (guess which one) – and travel to the WiFi-free town of Green Bank, West Virginia, to find out exactly what happens when we unplug.

    Listen to Douglas Rushkoff’s podcast Team Human: http://teamhuman.fm

    Get Douglas’ book Team Human: https://rushkoff.com/books/team-human-book

    Find more resources about this episode at shouldthisexist.com

    Subscribe to our excellent newsletter at http://eepurl.com/gnZTf9

    • 34 min
    Could this game replace the SAT?

    Could this game replace the SAT?

    Standard college admissions tests are:

    a. based on an outdated model of intelligence;

    b. exclusionary;

    c. a lucrative business and a near-monopoly;

    d. all of the above.

    28-year-old Harvard dropout Rebecca Kantar is disrupting the paradigm of pencil-and-paper tests like the SAT and ACT by designing interactive scenarios that play like video games, and that test for qualities like grit and creativity. But is another test the answer? Given the spotty history of aptitude tests, maybe it’s time to completely reevaluate how colleges evaluate prospective frosh.

    • 32 min
    VR vs. PTSD

    VR vs. PTSD

    A VR system called Bravemind allows combat veterans with PTSD to confront and process their trauma in a virtual environment. The therapy, developed by psychologist Skip Rizzo, shows promise for PTSD and potential for other issues like phobias and addiction – and it may have applications to help healing more broadly. But does the potential for harm from virtual self-medication outweigh the good it can do in a clinical setting? And given what we know about how VR affects the brain – is it as safe as it seems? 

    Find an episode transcript at shouldthisexist.com

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    • 36 min
    Young blood / old brains

    Young blood / old brains

    What if you could extend your healthy life by 10 or 20 years – with a blood transfusion from someone younger and healthier than you? Research by Stanford professor Tony Wyss-Coray shows potential to treat Alzheimer’s and prevent age-related cognitive decline: He’s discovered that proteins found in the blood of young mice can dramatically reverse the effects of aging when transfused into older mice. Doing the same thing in humans could increase our quality of life as we age, and our life expectancy too. We’re years away from seeing any clinical applications of this research, which gives us time to ask about its implications. Who will have access to this treatment? Who are the donors providing young blood? We could add years to our lives – but is that what we really want?




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    • 30 min
    Grandma, here’s your robot

    Grandma, here’s your robot

    Is it the loneliest idea you’ve ever heard? Or an ingenious hack that helps human caregivers be more attentive and empathetic? You might have these questions when you meet the robot caregivers who roam the halls at retirement homes, doing basic tasks for residents and keeping them connected. Is elder care something we want a robot to do? Roboticist Conor McGinn from Trinity College Dublin actually moved into a retirement home in Washington, DC, to gain a deeper understanding of what residents might want from a robot. The answer surprised him, and it prompts deeper questions: As humans, what responsibility do we have toward our elders? When we fail them, should robots close the gap? And is that the future we want for ourselves?

    Get the weekly Should This Exist? newsletter for reading list and discussion questions: http://eepurl.com/gnZTf9

    • 33 min
    Contact tracing: So promising. So invasive.

    Contact tracing: So promising. So invasive.

    It’s one of the best weapons we have to contain a pandemic. But can it defeat the disease without spying on people who might carry it? MIT’s Kevin Esvelt has a bold idea: Let’s try a new form of contact tracing that could more than double the program’s impact. Bi-directional tracing looks both forward and backward from a known transmission, building a chart of the “undiscovered branches of the viral family tree,” and identifying potential spreaders other systems can’t see. But how much of our data are we willing to give the government, even if it’s to fight Covid-19? 

    Get the weekly Should This Exist? newsletter for reading list and discussion questions: http://eepurl.com/gnZTf9.

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
22 Ratings

22 Ratings

Hbrown86 ,

This should exist

Podcasts like this are important in ensuring we stay mindful, not only as inventors of tech but also as end users. I loved the composition and the way Caterina helps us to embrace new tech concepts with our eyes and ears open. really thought provoking - good job.

Devlinmorrow ,

Mostly great but cut the awful sound effects

Intelligent discussion about interesting new technologies.

HOWEVER the cheesy, incessant sound effects make it almost unbearable to listen to the actual podcast! Please for the love of god stop with the sound effects!

vvilleger ,

Refreshingly intelligent approach to challenging tech.

This podcast strikes a perfect balance of challenging tech in a way that is informed and well-iintentioned, rather than systematically paranoid and confrontational.
I love the moments when Caterina asks the questions which the inventors themselves hadn’t yet got round to considering.
A new firm favourite for me, congrats to the team involved.

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