🔮 Martha Lane Fox special. On power and technology; wellness in digital society; Jobs and Kalanick; Gore, Tufekci, Arendt++ #125
I am away for the next couple of weeks on my summer vacation. I've asked my friend Martha Lane Fox to curate this week's issue to make sure your Sunday is off to a thoughtful start.
Martha and I go back to 1998. I met her after she co-founded Lastminute.com, one of the earliest British internet successes. Since then she has focused on public service digital projects. She is a Peer in the House of Lords and sits on the board of Twitter.
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🚀 Supported by SVB, Silicon Valley Bank.
I haven't fucked much with the past, but I've fucked plenty with the future.
- Patti Smith
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about technology and power: who's in charge, what they want, and how they're shaping life for the rest of us. In a world where everything from our novels to our protests to our (often misguided) public policy has tech in it, a small handful of unelected, unaccountable men are making decisions that affect everyone.
So as you read this issue of Exponential View, I’d like you to keep your eye on power. Who’s making choices? Who’s making rules? Who’s making money? And how do we make things fairer?
Hope you enjoy it. Have great conversations. And if you want to help us fuck with the future, drop us a line.
DEPT OF THE NEAR FUTURE
💰 Next up from Apple, or possibly Google: Economy 2.0. Notably absent from this piece is democracy, which – just in case we’ve forgotten – is not the same thing as capitalism.
🔬 The Silicon Valley mindset seems to be bleeding into other industries. Scientific American is calling for their readers to “move fast and break things”.
🌞 And in other non-tech-tech news, Ikea’s moved into the solar panel and battery storage business – almost certainly a predictor of things to come.
DEPT OF THE HERE FUTURE
The future is already here, and it’s changing how we live, care, consume, love, learn, work and die.
📰 Teens (whom, it appears, we should be worried about) share news differently from the rest of us. They’re screencapping and sharing via social media – maybe to avoid adverts and tracking, maybe so they only read the good bits, maybe to make sure what they share isn’t changed or deleted.
✋ Biohacking has become very, very specific: journalist Olivia Solon now has a microchip in her hand that lets her use one vending machine in Wisconsin.
💸 For a few brief, golden hours last week, Jeff Bezos was the richest man in the world – largely because, unlike Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, he hasn’t spent his money on much except the Washington Post. In June he asked Twitter what to spend his money on (an interesting choice of platform, since it doesn’t appear he’s ever followed or favourited anyone). He got 47,000 comments. Including this one.
As the rich get richer and the state gets poorer, do we need to rethink what counts as philanthropy? Does owning a newspaper contribute to social good? What about a space research agency? What about giving cheap Amazon Prime to people on welfare? (For the record, my answers to this are no, no and no. But it’s worth a discussion.)
DEPT OF CARE
Each of us will be cared for at some point in our lives. Many of us care for someone now. But especially in a digital society, care can be undermined and undervalued.
One of our fastest growing industries may be ourselves. As our population ages, we need more and more carers to do the jobs robots can’t. But these jobs often pay less and require more in terms of emotional labour than industries like manufacturing.
🏥 Speaking of jobs robots can’t do, how do we give clinicians as much support from AI as they get from their colleagues? medConfidential says we should use three AI diagnostic tools, not just one, to avoid the medical equivalent of “computer says no”.
We may not even need doctors at all if Mixael Laufer gets his way; he’s using meth’s brew-it-yourself approach to devise and open-source recipes for everything from EpiPens to birth control.
🎧 One of my heroines, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and I talked about the future of care for Network, Doteveryone’s podcast. You can listen here.
SHORT MORSELS TO APPEAR SMART AT DINNER PARTIES
Hannah Arendt is just as relevant today as she was 50 years ago.
🐨 Elon Musk says he’s fixing Australia, so I’m glad we’ve got that one sorted. Personally, I've always rather liked it as it is…
Paul Mason says democracy is dying – and we don’t care. 🙈
✊ If you haven’t read Zeynep Tufekci’s Twitter and Tear Gas, Wired’s republished the intro.
Was Steve Jobs just an egghead-ier Travis Kalanick?
And finally, this is fine.🔥
WHAT YOU ARE UP TO
EV reader, Obi Felten, has a team at X working on an energy storage project called Malta. They have revealed the details of their renewable energy reservoir unit that uses molten salt. (Technical paper. And HN discussion on the chemistry and physics side of things.)
I hope you enjoyed this week's guest issue of Exponential View. Please take a moment to thank Martha via this tweet.
Azeem (in absentia)
This week's issue is brought to you with support from our partner, Silicon Valley Bank