Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google in conversation with the New Statesman’s Helen Lewis discusses the threat that technology poses to society and our minds.
Richard Branson talks about how he chooses ideas, investing in artificial meats, bringing billionaires together on Necker Island to invest in startups, starting Virgin at 15, why he has backed Hyperloop – a sealed tube or system of tubes through which a pod may travel free of air resistance or friction conveying people or objects at high speed, why India will start with Hyperloop passengers by 2022, why he has spent $1bn on space tourism, launching the first commercial space flight this year, lunar tourism, the resurgence of vinyl, whether #metoo has changed how he markets and does business, why he’s not interested in eternal life, and why he hasn’t retired.
“Sorry Dude, I don’t remember you being on my aircraft.'”
NBC news anchor Brian Williams told a war story on national television. It wasn’t true. But does that make him a liar? Part two of Revisionist History’s memory series asks why we insist that lapses of memory must also be lapses of character.
This episode features Annie Duke, former pro poker player and author of the book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts. Julia and Annie debate why people tend to ignore the role of luck in their decisions, whether expressing uncertainty makes you seem weak, and how people end up engaging in “defensive decision-making,” where they’re not trying to make the best call so much as simply avoid being blamed for bad outcomes.
It may be tempting to think human civilization is on the verge of collapse: environmental degradation, the rise in authoritarianism, ballooning income disparities. But Harvard psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker is having none of it. He argues that the Enlightenment has given us so much that we can hardly see it anymore. And he believes it’s now time to champion Enlightenment values once again: rationality, verifiability, and above all: the ideal of progress itself.
It is in fact the top 0.1 percent who have been the big winners in the growing concentration of wealth over the past half century. If you’re looking for the kind of money that can buy elections, you’ll find it inside the top 0.1 percent — the 160,000 or so households.
Every piece of the pie picked up by the 0.1 percent, in relative terms, had to come from the people below. But not everyone in the 99.9 percent gave up a slice. Only those in the bottom 90 percent did. At their peak, in the mid-1980s, people in this group held 35 percent of the nation’s wealth. Three decades later that had fallen 12 points—exactly as much as the wealth of the 0.1 percent rose.
In between the top 0.1 percent and the bottom 90 percent is a group that has been doing just fine. It has held on to its share of a growing pie decade after decade. And as a group, it owns substantially more wealth than do the other two combined. In the tale of three classes, it is represented by the gold line floating high and steady while the other two duke it out. You’ll find the new aristocracy there. We are the 9.9 percent.
How far can we go in self defence? In war, is it sometimes acceptable to target civilians who are helping the war effort? David Edmonds speaks to Helen Frowe.
Helen Frowe is Professor of Practical Philosophy and Wallenberg Academy Research Fellow at Stockholm University, where she directs the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace. She is also a Research Associate at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict and at the Institute for Futures Studies. Her Books include “The Ethics of War” and “Peace and Defensive Killing”.
“We fancy ourselves outlaws while we shape laws, and consider ourselves disruptive without sufficient consideration for the people and institutions we disrupt,” writes Anil Dash, tech entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley influencer, about the industry he helped create. “I think we’re really going to face a reckoning as the economic impacts of that get stronger, as the cultural impacts of that get stronger. The idea that the halo around tech as “the good guys” is gonna sustain seems increasingly unlikely,” and other thoughtful observations in this episode.
In 2016 two research groups announced a breakthrough: they each grew human embryos, in the lab, longer than ever before. In doing so, they witnessed a period of human development no one had ever seen. But in the process, they crashed up against something called the ’14-day rule,’ a guideline set over 30 years ago that dictates what we do, and possibly how we feel, about human embryos in the lab.
September 3rd, 1967, also known as H-Day, is etched in the collective memory of Sweden. That morning, millions of Swedes switched from driving on the left side of the road to driving on the right. The changeover was an unprecedented undertaking, involving national infrastructural overhauls, extensive educational campaigns, and pop music.