World Without Mind, w/ Franklin Foer — [Invest Like the Best, Ep. 67]

My guest this week is Franklin Foer, the author the recently published book “World Without Mind.” The topic of our conversation is one that I’ve been thinking through often this past year: the impact that large technology companies have on our minds and behavior. This conversation is only indirectly related to markets, but given that the companies we discuss are now several of the largest by market cap in the global stock market, what happens to them likely impacts all of our portfolios whether we own them or not. Given that these companies compete for our attention and dollars, they also affect our businesses.

As an example, My friend Brent Beshore and his team at Adventures wrote a long and incredibly thoughtful piece on how they think about Amazon as a force in the market, and how they plan on navigating around such a fierce competitor.

 

Franklin’s book, especially the early history, is very thought-provoking, so it was no surprise that our conversation was too. Please enjoy our talk on the tech giants.

 

Links Referenced

Free PDF of The Whole Earth Catalog

Amazon Must Be Stopped (New Republic)

Hannah Arendt Philosophy

Time Well Spent

 

Books Referenced

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech

The Whole Earth Catalog

The Lessons of History

 

Show Notes

1:40 – (First Question) – As part of Jonathan’s new book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, exploring the idea of the whole earth catalog.

4:09 – The Whole Earth Catalog

4:36 – Free PDF of The Whole Earth Catalog

 

4:49 – What happened next for Brand and how he laid the early groundwork for today’s modern Silicon Valley

 

7:43 – Franklin’s personal journey into writing this book

10:00 – Amazon Must Be Stopped (New Republic)

 

11:48 – Thoughts on the advancement of technology in our world

 

15:52 –  Filling the gap into Brand’s influence on Silicon Valley from the early 80’s to today

 

18:57 – How does the current state of the free internet without gatekeepers hold up for the next generation

 

20:53 – Is there a chance that technology’s unlimited mining of our attention is not the horrible thing we often make it out to be

 

24:47 – What are the ways we can have a free internet and other technologies, but not let them get perverted

 

28:09 – How will people respond to our tech monopolies

 

31:54 – The Lessons of History and the rise and fall of centrist powers

 

33:02 –  A look at Franklin’s work and how its impacted by the reliant on a few large tech companies

 

35:28 – The dangers that tech giants like Facebook, Amazon, etc, have created for us

 

40:45 – Is there a technology, company, or trend that Franklin is really excited for

 

42:19 – Will there be movements that emphasis detachment from technology

 

44:05 – Why most innovations have happened to people thinking in a very separated or contemplative mode

 

45:58 – What’s the most exciting thing that Franklin is thinking about now

 

49:30 – What was the most memorable content in researching this book that Franklin would suggest other check out

49:59 – Hannah Arendt Philosophy

 

52:37 – Are there specific things that Franklin does to be more contemplative

53:26 – Time Well Spent

 

54:47 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Franklin