What happens to society when human beings are reduced to data points? What happens when our behavior, our movements, our relationships, and our obsessions are all tracked with near perfect precision? What happens when that information is indexed for the purpose of selling us products and influencing our political viewpoints all under the guise of “building community” and “making information free.”
Well, look around. That’s the world you live in.
Tech monopolies have built trillions of dollars of wealth watching and recording everything that you do in a day, building a database of YOU that’s so nuanced they can predict everything you’ll do next.
Join Ari Andersen, a curious generalist, as he talks to data scientists, Internet pioneers, government officials, and various other people who understand what the heck is happening.
If anything is going to change, first we have to understand what’s going on.
"have you ever heard of a penny strike?"
There will be time to organize, to fight back, to feel secure in the knowledge that your data, the information that represents your life and your loves and your thoughts and feelings, is not commoditized and weaponized.
But first, we must learn, and we must share what we learn. We must know what we face, and the addictive, divisive, well-resourced, monolithically powerful companies we’re up against.
"We can find anybody within three square meters"
We’ve given the algorithms control, and every day we give them more. In the name of more efficient solutions, more efficient uses of our time, more productivity, more shareholder value, our humanity has been forced to squeeze itself into these narrow pathways of digital interaction.
It would be one thing if people were happier, if societally things were going great. But they...aren’t. This isn’t working. It’s time to turn the car around. Well, maybe not around, just take a different road.
"This Will Change Everything"
As the Coronavirus has upended every aspect of life as we know it, and the world already seems a little darker, it felt untimely to release an episode about a dark, dystopian tech-reliant future. Instead, I decided to have a special conversation with one of our previous guests, and friend of the podcast, Judy Estrin, about how Covid-19 is deepening our reliance on technology, and what might emerge when all this is over.
"Is Twitter the same as what you do?"
In previous episodes we’ve looked at this issue of tech dominance from several angles. We’ve seen how they gather data, what they can do with it, how they make money from it, and how social media allows them to muddy the water and shape the narrative. You may have asked yourself along the way, “how can they do this? Why doesn’t the government do anything about it?”
"I sold. I'm out. I don't want anyone to remember I was doing that."
In the preparation for this episode, I asked a colleague for an introduction to a friend of his who I wanted to interview for this podcast, a former senior executive at a social media company.
“I sold. I’m out. I don’t want anyone to remember I was doing that.”
“How much do they really know?”
We hear “data breach” or “data leak” or “they’re gathering our data” and don’t stop to consider what that really means. We’ve accepted that there’s nothing really we can do about it anyway, so why fuss?
“Does it really matter? Who cares! Well, I don’t have anything to hide.” We’ve all heard those statements, maybe even said them ourselves. But those are cop-outs. Ignorance can't be bliss forever.
Wow! Unique, eye-opening, and compelling
Ari Andersen asks all the right questions of as he engages with fascinating speakers one of the most important topics of our time. Smart, a little mind blowing, and a great listen.
Don’t Be Evil
Judy Estrin was part of the team that created the protocols for the internet. Her insights about the business models and practices of internet giants like Google and Facebook are essential. This is a brilliant podcast.
Episode 1 - Killer
Was so awesome to hear how internet pioneers viewed the work they were doing at the very beginning and their perspectives on how technology has changed the way we interact today.