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.
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
4:49 – 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
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