Podcast #372: World Without Mind — The Existential Threat of Big Tech

During the past decade three companies have revolutionized the way we shop, socialize, and find information. I’m talking, of course, about Amazon, Facebook, and Google. While these companies have made our lives easier in many ways, my guest today argues that they’re also eroding autonomy and individuality. His name is Franklin Foer and he’s the author of the book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech. Today on the show, Franklin talks about how the utopian ideals of Silicon Valley have led to an internet that is becoming more and more homogenized and centralized. We then dig into how the vast amounts of personal information these companies have about us can be used to manipulate us. Franklin then argues that while these companies make us feel more autonomous, they’re actually diminishing our choices and reducing our individuality. We end our conversation discussing ideas on what you can do to maintain your sense of autonomy in today’s atmosphere.

Show Highlights

  • How and why Franklin quit his job as editor of The New Republic
  • Journalism in the world of social media
  • The philosophical foundations of Silicon Valley behemoths
  • The odd balance between individual libertarianism and utopian collectivism in the tech world
  • The differences between the giant companies of old (railroads, oil, etc.) versus today’s
  • An overview of modern anti-trust laws
  • How tech companies try to own our attention
  • The huge chunks of our economy dependent on large tech companies
  • How social media is destroying individuality
  • How the quality of content has suffered in the world of social media
  • What to do about the existential threat of large technology companies
  • Why your private data needs to be protected
  • My own forms of tech resistance
  • Why Mark Zuckerberg wants to get rid of privacy
  • The phenomena of self-censoring
  • Why you should use DuckDuckGo instead of Google

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Franklin

Franklin on Twitter

Franklin’s articles on The Atlantic

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