The Coronavirus pandemic is the biggest crisis many of us have experienced in our lifetime, so far. And, as Arundhati Roy said, it is "a portal, a gateway from one world to the next." In any crisis, impossible ideas suddenly become possible, and precedents are set that can transform society over the long term. How can we identify, harness and shape these precedents so that we emerge into a better future? Join Jérōme Tagger of Preventable Surprises and Alison Taylor of Ethical Systems in this lively series of discussions exploring the social, political, environmental, economic and governance consequences of the pandemic. We bring together experts from a range of disciplines and a highly engaged audience to challenge and push their thinking. We hope our conversations spark ideas, connections, and solutions.
Breaking the Fever takeover with Chris Mason
This episode of Breaking the Fever features a podcast takeover by Nithya Iyer — a Preventable Surprises Research Fellow investigating existential risks and systemic change.
This takeover episode features biophysicist and meta geneticist Dr Christopher Mason. He is a professor of physiology and biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine, the director of the World Quantitative Initiative, was the lead researcher on the NASA Twin Study, and founder of MasonLab which is working towards a 500-year plan for humanity to inhabit other planets through genetic engineering.
We discuss the 500-year plan, how scientific visions move in the world and become reality, and the meaning of life.
The podcast refers to Chris's new book 'The Next 500 Years, Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds', by MIT Press which you can find here: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/next-500-years
Also referenced are Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/6113/oryx-and-crake-by-margaret-atwood/
Immanuel Kant, John Rawls' Veil of Ignorance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_position
and John Stuart Mills' Utilitarianism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism_(book)
You can read more about Chris's work here: https://www.masonlab.net/
Breaking the Fever takeover: the aftermath with Vinay Gupta
This episode of Breaking the Fever features a podcast takeover by Nithya Iyer - a Preventable Surprises Research Fellow investigating existential risks and systemic change.
Over the course of three episodes, the takeover focuses on the AFTERMATH, starting from a fictional aftermath of systemic and ideological collapse to interview thinkers acting at the apex of present and future technologies, mainstream and alternative philosophies, factual and fictional realities, asking: where do we go from here?
This episode features global disaster relief expert and blockchain entrepreneur Vinay Gupta. We discuss the context of our current environmental predicaments, the grave risks humankind faces, and the types of futures that are possible if we dismantle false notions of green economies.
The podcast refers to Lester Brown's Plan B, which you can find here: http://www.earth-policy.org/books/pb4 and Jamais Cascio's (https://www.iftf.org/jamaiscascio/) work on geoengineering.
You can read more about Vinay Gupta's work here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rahulsingireddy/2017/10/18/vinay-gupta-on-why-ethereum-is-the-future/
and here: https://mattereum.com/team/
#28 - The Science of Collaborating Effectively: A Conversation with Debra Mashek
In this episode of the podcast, we speak with Debra Mashek about how true collaboration emerges within and between groups, why it breaks down, and what companies can do to foster it.
- The stages leading to collaboration: separation, networking, coordination, cooperation, and, finally, collaboration
- How romantic relationship dynamics ground the psychology of effective group collaboration
- The impact of a communal orientation toward other groups as opposed to a short-term, self-interested one
- Why a focus on short-term profits disincentivizes collaboration
- The five things groups need to sustain their collaborations
- How conflict can spark and derail collaboration
- Why feelings of interconnectedness fortify collaboration
Debra Mashek has spent two decades studying how people form relationships with each other, as well as the challenges and rewards of doing so. She applies relationship theory to understand and improve how individuals relate to others and to help people achieve together that which cannot be achieved alone. Whether connecting higher-ed administrators with their faculties, higher-ed leaders with each other, philanthropists with organizations, or junior-faculty members with senior-faculty members, Mashek engages clients in careful analysis and problem solving, weaving deep relationship knowledge with tailored facilitation, genuine concern for the individuals in the room, and an unwavering commitment to her clients’ goals. She is an accomplished collaboration builder who sees pathways where others see tangled complexity.
#27 - Change the Paradigm, Change the System: A Conversation with Denise Hearn
In this episode of the podcast, we speak with Denise Hearn about the most significant opportunities and concerns with capitalism, the need for ESG and corporate governance to evolve, and the ideas behind her new project, Embodied Economics.
- How monopoly, competition dynamics, and instrumentalist thinking affect ESG investing
- Ways ESG investing has been shaped by the pandemic
- The problem with the idealized, abstract, self-interested logic of economics
- What good corporate regulation looks like in a contentious political climate
Denise Hearn is co-author of The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition—named one of the Financial Times’ Best Books of 2018 and endorsed by two Nobel Prize winners. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the American Economic Liberties Project and a thought partner to SheEO. She is also Board Chair of The Predistribution Initiative—a multi-stakeholder project to improve investment structures and practices to address systemic risks like inequality and climate change. Denise helped launch the First Principles Forum, a platform to support and challenge technology company founders who want to use their wealth for good—now housed at Stanford's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. She has an MBA from the Oxford Saïd Business School, where she co-chaired the Social Impact Oxford Business Network and has a BA in International Studies from Baylor University.
#26 - Regulating Finance to Avert Climate Disaster
In this episode, the third (and final) in our miniseries on climate finance, we speak with Colleen Orr and Graham Steele about how regulators in the United States can wield financial tools and soft power to set public- and private-sector organizations on a more climate-smart path.
- Theories of change for regulators in climate finance
- How the private and public sector can work together
- How the SEC, Treasury Dept, and other governmental bodies are setting their climate finance agenda
- The Fed’s robust financial tools are somewhat wasted by how it uses them narrowly, in ways that are market-neutral, for example
- Economic reasons why younger generations are much more drawn to sustainable finance
- The ways in which the US and EU differ in regulatory approaches to banks and investors
- The role of anti-trust legislation in climate finance regulation
- Reasons for optimism about climate finance providing effective solutions to the climate crisis
Colleen Orr is a Senior US Policy Analyst for the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment. In her role as Senior Policy Analyst, Colleen advocates for corporate disclosure of environmental, social, and governance factors to improve capital markets; analyzes and prepares comments and briefings on US and global policy regulations; and fosters relationships with the PRI’s global signatory base, US policymakers, regulators, and advocacy organizations to promote the PRI’s policy priorities.
Graham Steele is the director of the Corporations and Society Initiative at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Prior to joining Stanford GSB, Graham was a member of the staff of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. From 2015 to 2017, Graham was the Minority Chief Counsel for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs.
#25 - Insurance Companies Can Help Phase Out the Fossil-Fuel Industry
In this episode, the second in our miniseries on climate finance, we speak with Peter Bosshard and Elana Sulakshana about the insurance sector’s role in maintaining status-quo climate policies, and what insurers can do to halt the development of more fossil-fuel infrastructure.
- What might happen if insurers didn’t provide insurance for new gas and oil pipelines
- The near-absolute confidentiality of who is insuring what
- The role coal plants in the EU have in premature deaths
- The hypocrisy of insurance companies’ stated aims and actions
- The uneven geographical distribution of insurance companies that want to phase out links to coal and other climate risks
- The touting of investments in green tech by insurance companies to divert attention away from investments in fossil fuel
- How most major insurance companies in Europe stopped insuring coal mining
- How the insurance industry is organized around climate issues
- The promise of insurance companies pressuring corporations on climate with share-holder resolutions
- How US insurance companies lag behind peers in Europe, Australia
- The role of insurance brokers
Peter Bosshard is the director of the Finance Program at the Sunrise Project, the aim of which is to grow social movements to drive the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy as fast as possible. He coordinates international campaigns to accelerate the transition of the insurance industry and other investors from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Elana Sulakshana leads Rainforest Action Network’s campaign to stop the U.S. insurance industry from driving the climate crisis. She has been active in the climate justice movement for the last eight years, most recently organizing for just and equitable climate policy in Washington State, fighting fracking in the U.K. and campaigning for universities to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in communities.