I interviewed Harris recently for my podcast. We talked about how the 2016 election threw Silicon Valley into crisis, why negative emotions dominate online, where Silicon Valley’s model of human decision-making went wrong, whether he buys Zuckerberg’s change of heart, and what it means to take control of your time. This transcript has been edited for length and clarity. For the full conversation, which includes the story of what happened when Harris brought legendary meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh to Google, listen or subscribe to The Ezra Klein Show.
Composers Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein break down the opening theme to Stranger Things.
The Father Of The Internet Sees His Invention Reflected Back Through A ‘Black Mirror’ : All Tech Considered : NPR
The titans of Silicon Valley have a grand vision of the future. But they have a tendency to miss the downside of their inventions — think cybercrime and online harassment.
Ethics, technology and the impact of our decisions on customers and employees - Interview with Cennydd Bowles, a designer and writer focusing on the ethics of emerging technologies. Cennydd joins me today to talk about ethics, technology, emerging technology, design and the impact of the decisions we make on customers and employees. This interview follows on from my recent interview – The Age Of Agile and why agile is more than a tool or method – Interview with Steve Denning – and is number 251 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.
Two ways to save humanity
Mann titled his talk “The Edge of the Petri Dish.”
He explained, “If you drop a couple protozoa in a Petri dish filled with nutrient goo, they will multiply until they run out of resources or drown in their own wastes.”
Humans in the world Petri dish appear to be similarly doomed, judging by our exponential increases in population, energy use, water use, income, and greenhouse gases.
How to save humanity?
Opposing grand approaches emerged from two remarkable scientists in the mid-20th century who fought each other their entire lives.
Their solutions were so persuasive that their impassioned argument continues 70 years later to dominate how we think about dealing with the still-exacerbating exponential impacts.
Norman Borlaug, the one Mann calls “the Wizard,” was a farm kid trained as a forester.
In 1944 he found himself in impoverished Mexico with an impossible task—solve the ancient fungal killer of wheat, rust.
First he invented high-volume crossbreeding, then shuttle breeding (between winter wheat and spring wheat), and then semi-dwarf wheat.
The resulting package of hybrid seeds, synthetic fertilizer, and irrigation became the Green Revolution that ended most of hunger throughout the world for the first time in history.
There were costs.
The diversity of crops went down.
Excess fertilizer became a pollutant.
Agriculture industrialized at increasing scale, and displaced smallhold farmers fled to urban slums.
William Vogt, who Mann calls “the Prophet,” was a poor city kid who followed his interest in birds to become an isolated researcher on the revolting guano islands of Peru.
He discovered that periodic massive bird die-offs on the islands were caused by the El Niño cycle pushing the Humboldt Current with its huge load of anchovetas away from the coast and starving the birds.
The birds were, Vogt declared, subject to an inescapable “carrying capacity.“
That became the foundational idea of the environmental movement, later expressed in terms such as “limits to growth,” “ecological overshoot,” and “planetary boundaries.”
Vogt spelled out the worldview in his powerful 1948 book, The Road to Survival.
The Prophets-versus-Wizards debate keeps on raging—artisanal organic farming versus factory-like mega-farms; distributed solar energy versus centralized fossil fuel refineries and nuclear power plants; dealing with climate change by planting a zillion trees versus geoengineering with aerosols in the stratosphere.
The question continues: How do we best manage our world Petri dish?
Can humanity change its behavior at planet scale?
Mann ended by pointing out that in 1800 slavery was universal in the world and had been throughout history.
Then it ended.
Prophets say that morally committed abolitionists did it.
Wizards say that clever labor-saving machinery did it.
Maybe it was the combination.
- Paul Ford Paul Ford is a writer, programmer, educator, and technologist. He is currently the co-founder of Postlight, a digital product studio in New York and teaches at the School of Visual Arts….
In the sixth episode, guest host Aaron Lammer speaks with designer and professor Molly Wright Steenson about pattern languages, the important similarities between architecture and AI, and the publication of her new book Architectural Intelligence. Learn more 👉 design.google/podcasts
What makes a great cover song?
Is it a total reimagining, like Devo singing “Satisfaction,” Ike and Tina Turner taking on “Proud Mary” or Jimi Hendrix playing “All Along The Watchtower?”
Is it a performance that brings a new energy or feeling to the original, like Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Got To Get You Into My Life” or Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah?”
Or can a covering artist bring a weight to a song that makes it feel all their own, like Johnny Cash singing “Hurt?”
The answer is yes.
While taking on another artist’s hit can seem like an easy way to please fans, it can also be a risk. Covering a song invites a comparison to the original. When done right, it’s a beautiful tribute that can become a hit all its own. When done wrong, it can be the pop equivalent of dancing on a grave.
Turn up your headphones and get ready for a music-filled examination of the art and craft of the cover.
Om Malik is, of course, a legend. One of the first journalists on the “tech beat” in the 1990s, one of the first bloggers to “turn pro,” one of the driving forces behind the Web 2.0 time period, and one of the most trusted analysts of the technology industry in general, today he is a venture capitalist at True Ventures.
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