The Technically Human Podcast
Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson Revolutionizes Climate Science: How tech can save the world from climate change and what YOU can do to help

Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson Revolutionizes Climate Science: How tech can save the world from climate change and what YOU can do to help

February 26, 2021

In this episode of "Technically Human," I sit down with Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson, one of the world's leading experts in climate science. 

We talk about the technologies that can prevent environmental destruction, and how tech innovation can drive a clean energy vision for the future. Mark explains why we already have the science and tech to build this future, and how--with the political and social will--we can create a world powered by renewable energy--not in a distant future, but NOW. 

Mark Z. Jacobson is Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental  Engineering at Stanford University. He seeks to understand air pollution and global warming problems, and to develop large-scale clean, renewable energy solutions to these major and urgent problems. His most recent book, published by Cambridge University Press, is titled 100 Percent Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything. The book is the culmination of Dr. Jacobson’s life's work on 
transitioning the world to 100% clean, renewable energy, and it examines the 
technologies, economics, and social/political aspects of that transition.

On February 9, as part of the Joint Declaration of the Global 100% Renewable Energy Strategy Group, Dr. Jacobson joined other leading climate scientists and experts to propose a 10 point declaration to transform the world’s energy supply to 100% renewable energy. This statement will be specifically published in support of President Biden’s United States climate change agenda.

To support the transformation to renewable energy by signing your name to the declaration, please visit www.global100restrategygroup.org.

This episode was produced by Matt Perry.
Podcast art by Desi Aleman

Virtually Human: Living in Jaron Lanier’s virtual reality

Virtually Human: Living in Jaron Lanier’s virtual reality

February 19, 2021

In this episode of the “Technically Human” podcast, I sit down with Jaron Lanier, the creator of virtual reality. Jaron and I discuss the meaning, and the future, of reality in an increasingly virtual world, and we talk about what virtual reality was in its early stages. Jaron outlines his concerns and critique of technological culture, and he explains why the kind of behavior modification and manipulation engineered by social media platforms has become, in his mind, a “Behaviours of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent," or a BUMMER.

Jaron Lanier is the founder of the field of virtual reality. From 2009, he has worked at Microsoft Research as an Interdisciplinary Scientist in a role called “The Octopus,” (which stands for Office of the Chief Technology Officer Prime Unifying Scientist).

In 2010, Lanier was named to the Time 100 list of most influential people. In 2018, Lanier was named one of the 25 most influential people in the previous 25 years of tech history by Wired Magazine, and one of the 100 top public intellectuals by Foreign Policy Magazine. His books include the bestsellers “You Are Not a Gadget, A Manifesto,” “Who Owns the Future?,” and “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.” His writing appears in The New York Times, Discover, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Harpers Magazine, Atlantic, Wired Magazine (where he was a founding contributing editor), and Scientific American. He has appeared on TV shows such as The View, PBS NewsHour, The Colbert Report, Nightline and Charlie Rose, and has been profiled on the front pages of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times multiple times. He regularly serves as a creative consultant for movies, including Minority Report and The Circle.

He has received honorary doctorates from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Franklin and Marshall College, was the recipient of CMU's Watson award in 2001, was a finalist for the first Edge of Computation Award in 2005, and received a Lifetime Career Award from the IEEE in 2009 for contributions to Virtual Reality.

Jaron Lanier is also a musician and artist. He has been active in the world of new "classical" music since the late '70s and writes chamber and orchestral works. He is a pianist and a specialist in unusual and historical musical instruments; he maintains one of the largest and most varied collections of actively played instruments in the world.

Produced by Matt Perry
Art by Desi Aleman

The “Changing Minds” Series: Episode 3 with Minds CEO Bill Ottman

The “Changing Minds” Series: Episode 3 with Minds CEO Bill Ottman

February 12, 2021

We are back with our third and final episode in the “Changing Minds” series!

Across the 3 episodes, we focus on civil discourse, and we ask what it means to engage in dialogue with people with whom we disagree, sometimes deeply.  In the first two episodes, I spoke with Daryl Davis about racism, and how he envisions the possibility of changing the minds of those who believe, and participate in, white supremacist and separatist movements.

In our third and final episode of the “changing minds” series, I sit down with Bill Ottman. Bill Ottman is the founder of Minds.com, a new community-owned, “open source” social media network that prizes privacy, transparency, and open exchange. We explore the advantages, and the challenges, of unfettered free speech, we talk about relationship between tech and civil discourse, and Bill talks about his vision of a social media ecosystem that can help pave the way toward creating a healthier and more vibrant national conversation—not in spite of our differences and distances, but because of them.

In thinking about the ethics of technology, and in particular, its relationship to our moment of political, cultural, and ideological polarization, the ethics of technology extend far beyond how we use tech. Social media offers the potential for new connections, or new levels of disconnect and partisanship. The ethics and intentions we bring to social media matter, and our approach starts far before we ever sit down at our computer to respond to a Facebook post, or broadcast our views on Twitter. They start with how we imagine, and practice, civil discourse, how we think about meeting other folks where they are, considering the journey that led them to believe as they do.

Here's part 3, with Bill Ottman

Produced by Matt Perry
Artwork by Desi Aleman

The “Changing Minds” Series: Episode 2 with Daryl Davis

The “Changing Minds” Series: Episode 2 with Daryl Davis

February 5, 2021

Welcome back to part 2 of our 3-episode series on Changing Minds. In this series, we’re doing something a little bit different. The three episodes of the series focus on the theme of changing minds: what it means to engage in dialogue with people with whom we disagree, sometimes deeply, and the importance of civil discourse, particularly in this deeply polarized national moment. In the first episode, I spoke with Daryl Davis about racism, and how he envisions the possibility of changing the minds of those who believe, and participate in, white supremacist and separatist movements. He talked to me about his work and his views on navigating this particularly fraught moment.

Daryl Davis is a Black singer and author who has facilitated over 200 members of the KKK to leave the organization, simply by befriending them and letting them know who he is. He's big on simply reaching out rather than censorship and has created a deradicalization movement at change.minds.com to help people connect in a civil way online.    

In thinking about the ethics of technology, and in particular, its relationship to our moment of political, cultural, and ideological polarization, the ethics of technology extend far beyond how we use tech. Social media offers the potential for new connections, or new levels of disconnect and partisanship. The ethics and intentions we bring to social media matter, and our approach starts far before we ever sit down at our computer to respond to a Facebook post, or broadcast our views on Twitter. They start with how we imagine, and practice, civil discourse, how we think about meeting other folks where they are, considering the journey that led them to believe as they do.

In my conversations with Daryl, we explore what those ethics can look like, and how they can come to transform our approach to engaging in dialogue with distant others. Distant others can mean geographical distance. It can also mean political distance, ideological distance, or cultural difference. Daryl’s work, and his activism, shows an important alternative to the discord that dominates our current conversation and points us to the possibility of ethical engagement across that distance.

Next week, I sit down with Bill Ottman, the CEO of Minds.com, a social media platform that provides an alternative to Facebook, and that seeks to prioritize privacy, transparency, and open exchange. Building on my conversations with Daryl in the first two episodes, Bill and I explore the relationship between tech and civil discourse, and ways that we all can be part of creating a healthier and more vibrant national conversation—not in spite of our differences and distances, but because of them. 

Here's part 2 of my conversation with Daryl.

 

Produced by Matt Perry

Artwork by Desi Aleman

The “Changing Minds” Series: Episode 1 with Daryl Davis

The “Changing Minds” Series: Episode 1 with Daryl Davis

January 29, 2021

For the next few weeks, we’re going to be doing something a little bit different. The next three episodes of the series focus on the theme of changing minds: what it means to engage in dialogue with people with whom we disagree, sometimes deeply, and the importance of civil discourse, particularly in this deeply polarized national moment. In the first two episodes, I speak with Daryl Davis about racism, and how he envisions the possibility of changing the minds of those who believe, and participate in, white supremacist and separatist movements.

Daryl Davis is an Black singer and author who has facilitated over 200 members of the KKK to leave the organization, simply by befriending them and letting them know who he is. He's big on simply reaching out rather than censorship and has created a deradicalization movement at change.minds.com to help people connect in a civil way online.    

Across these two episodes, I talk to Daryl about his work and his views on navigating this particularly fraught moment. In thinking about the ethics of technology, and in particular, its relationship to our moment of political, cultural, and ideological polarization, the ethics of technology extend far beyond how we use tech. Those ethics start far before we ever sit down at our computer to respond to a Facebook post, or broadcast our views on Twitter. They start with how we imagine, and practice, civil discourse. In my conversations with Daryl, we explore what those ethics can look like, and how they can come to transform our approach to engaging in dialogue with distant others. Distant others can mean geographical distance. It can also mean political distance, ideological distance, or cultural difference. Daryl’s work, and his activism, shows an important alternative to the discord that dominates our current conversation, and points us to the possibility of ethical engagement across that distance.

In the third of these episodes, I speak to Bill Otman, the CEO of Minds.com, a social media platform that provides an alternative to Facebook, and that seeks to prioritize privacy, transparency, and open exchange. Between these conversations, and across these 3 episodes, we explore the relationship between tech and civil discourse, and ways that we all can be part of creating a healthier and more vibrant national conversation—not in spite of our differences and distances, but because of them.

 

Produced by Matt Perry

Artwork by Desi Aleman

Protecting Our Tech: Dr. Bruce DeBruhl breaks down cybersecurity and what that means for the world, the country, and you

Protecting Our Tech: Dr. Bruce DeBruhl breaks down cybersecurity and what that means for the world, the country, and you

January 22, 2021

In this episode of "Technically Human," I sit down with Dr. Bruce DeBruhl to talk about cybersecurity and the ethics of privacy in our digitally connected world. We discuss the changing concept of privacy as our tech becomes increasingly integrated into the most intimate reaches of our lives, Bruce narrates the history of cybersecurity, and we consider how our colleges are preparing the next generation of tech workers to think about protecting our data and the intimate information we generate each and every day.

Dr. Bruce DeBruhl is an Associate Professor at California Polytechnic State University, where most of his teaching focuses on cybersecurity and privacy education. His educational goal is to develop opportunities for diverse students to get hands-on experience with security and privacy. Dr. DeBruhl’s research interests include wireless security, cyber-physical security, location privacy, and automotive security. In 2020, he was nominated for the Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award for the California State University system, and he co-leads the Transforming Access to Cybersecurity in California through a Strategic Research Initiative, awarded by Cal Poly. The initiative aims to address the fundamental problems of access to cybersecurity training and to cybersecurity services, both by developing holistic cybersecurity training and education, and by developing ways to provide cybersecurity in underserved communities.

 

Produced by Matt Perry
Podcast art designed by Desi Aleman
Music by Bensound

The American Dream Goes Digital: The myths and technologies that bind us with Dr. Julie Albright

The American Dream Goes Digital: The myths and technologies that bind us with Dr. Julie Albright

January 15, 2021

In this episode of Technically Human, I sit down with Dr. Julie Albright to talk about her new book: Left to Their Own Devices: How Digital Natives Are Reshaping the American Dream. We talk about the way that digital culture is changing the American Dream for the next generation, we discuss how the internet is changing political culture, and Julie explains how our connections to our devices are changing the way we seek partnerships, form relationships, and how romance has been gamified in our world of online dating.

Dr. Julie Albright is a Sociologist specializing in digital culture and communications. She has a Masters Degree in Social and Systemic Studies and a Dual Doctorate in Sociology and Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Southern California. Dr. Albright is currently a Lecturer in the departments of Applied Psychology and Engineering at USC, where She teaches master’s level courses on the Psychology of Interactive Technologies and Sustainable Infrastructure. 

Dr. Albright’s research has focused on the growing intersection of technology and social / behavioral systems.

She is also a sought after keynote speaker, and has given talks for major data center and energy conferences including SAP for Utilities, IBM Global, Data Center Dynamics and the Dept. of Defense. She has appeared as an expert on national media including the Today Show, CNN, NBC Nightly News, CBS, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, NPR Radio and many others. 

Her new book, Left to Their Own Devices: How Digital Natives Are Reshaping the American Dream (Random House/ Prometheus press), investigates the impacts of mobile - social- – digital technologies on society. 

This episode was produced by Matt Perry.

How Tech is Changing Democracy Around the Globe: Mohamed Abubakr on democratic revolutions, here and abroad

How Tech is Changing Democracy Around the Globe: Mohamed Abubakr on democratic revolutions, here and abroad

January 8, 2021

To kick off the 4th season of Technically Human, I sit down with Mohamed Abubakr, the president of the African and Middle Eastern Leadership Project (AMEL), to talk about the present and the future state of democracy worldwide.

We discuss the role of social media in mobilizing democratic movements, including anti-autocratic movements in the Middle East and Africa, and its simultaneous role in the collapse of democratic norms in the United States. We talk about the future of both democracy and online networks, what it means to know of the lives of others virtually, and how global connection creates new possibilities for revolution.

Tech Stands Up: Brad Taylor builds the new technological revolution

Tech Stands Up: Brad Taylor builds the new technological revolution

November 20, 2020

In 2017, Brad Taylor founded "Tech Stands Up," bringing together thousands of technologists to call for change, social activism, and socially responsible leadership in the tech industry, staging a rally on Pi Day (March 14) in the wake of the election of Donald Trump.

In this episode of "Technically Human,' I speak to Brad about what motivated his decision to stand up. We talk about how technologists can leverage their position to demand social change, we discuss the challenges of speaking up, and Brad talks about how he envisions the world that he hopes his kids, and the next generation, will inherit.

Brad Taylor is the founder of the "Tech Stands Up" movement. He is an engineer, founder, and father who has worked in Silicon Valley for the last 15 years building digital marketing tools for some of the world's largest brands.

Brad hosts the Tech Stands Up Podcast, a series dedicated to the intersection of technology and civic engagement at the local, state, and federal levels. He discusses the extraordinary impact new technologies have on our society and how we can solve some of the most challenging problems we face today.

This episode was produced by Matthew Perry.

Active Imagination: Malka Older talks humanitarianism, science fiction, and the future of democracy

Active Imagination: Malka Older talks humanitarianism, science fiction, and the future of democracy

November 13, 2020

Malka Older moves between the practice of on-the-ground disaster relief work and the practice of in-the-mind science fiction writing. She converges her experience with real-life dystopias with the imagined dystopias of science-fiction.

In the episode, I ask Malka about how these areas of her work blend together, how she understands the boundaries and the interplay between the real and the imaginary, and the role that science fiction plays in our understanding of tech—its promises and its perils.

We talk about use of science fiction in helping us avoid disasters, the relationship between tech, science fiction, and democracy, and Malka shares her predictions about the future of tech, democracy, and human rights as we move into the future of the 21st century.

Malka Older is a writer, academic, and aid worker. She is currently a Faculty Associate at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society and an Associate Researcher at the Centre de Sociologie des Organisations. Her  science-fiction political thriller Infomocracy was named one of the best books of 2016 by Kirkus, Book Riot, and the Washington Post. She has written opinion pieces for the New York Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy, and NBC Think.

She has more a decade of experience in humanitarian aid and development, ranging from field level experience as a Head of Office in Darfur to supporting global programs and agency-wide strategy as a disaster risk reduction technical specialist. Her doctoral work on the sociology of organizations at the Institut d’Études Politques de Paris (Sciences Po), completed in 2019, explored the dynamics of multi-level governance and disaster response using the cases of Hurricane Katrina and the Japan tsunami of 2011. As part of this work she has been selected as a visiting scholar at Columbia University, on an Alliance Grant, and at the Fletcher School of International Affairs at Tufts University. She has an undergraduate degree in literature from Harvard and a Masters in international relations and economics from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Johns Hopkins University.

She was named Senior Fellow for Technology and Risk at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs for 2015, and has conducted research for the French Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN) on the human and organizational factors involved in the Fukushima Dai-Ichi crisis. Her research interests include intra-governmental relations in crises; the paradox of well-funded disaster responses; measurement and evaluation of disaster responses; and the effects of competition among actors in humanitarian aid.

This episode was produced by Matthew Perry.

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