Called the “closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience,” by The Atlantic magazine, Tristan Harris spent three years as a Google Design Ethicist developing a framework for how technology should “ethically” steer the thoughts and actions of billions of people from screens. He is now co-founder & president of the Center for Humane Technology, whose mission is to reverse ‘human downgrading’ and re-align technology with humanity. Additionally, he is co-host of the Center for Humane Technology’s Your Undivided Attention podcast with co-founder Aza Raskin. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce notes that, “Tristan Harris is probably the strongest voice in technology pointing where the industry needs to go. This is a call to arms and everyone needs to hear him now.” In this exclusive interview I spoke to Tristan Harris about how the technologies of social media and the smartphone are destroying our society, and what we can do to pull it back from the brink.

Thought Economics

Jaron Lanier is a renaissance man, and one of the most profoundly important thinkers of our age on the relationship of technology to humanity. He is a computer scientist, composer, artist, and author who writes on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technology, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics, and the future of humanism. He has been on the cusp of technological innovation from its infancy to the present. A pioneer in virtual reality (a term he coined), Lanier founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products, and led teams originating VR applications for medicine, design, and numerous other fields. Officially, Jaron is Microsoft’s “Octopus”, which stands for Office of the Chief Technology Officer Prime Unifying Scientist.. He was a founder or principal of startups that were acquired by Google, Adobe, Oracle, and Pfizer. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Jaron Lanier about the very essence of the relationship between technology and humanity, and why we need to evaluate the ethics of our platforms and our relationship to social media.

Thought Economics

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt is one of the world’s foremost computer scientists. He is chairman of the Open Data Institute which he co-founded with Sir Tim Berners-Lee. He is a leading researcher in artificial intelligence and was one of the originators of the interdisciplinary field of web science. He is Principal of Jesus College Oxford, a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and a visiting Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Southampton. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Sir Nigel about open data and artificial intelligence are transforming humanity.

Thought Economics

Formula One (F1) racing is an incredible sport.  Some of the brightest minds in the world of engineering and human performance, equipped with multi-billion-dollar budgets, create staggeringly high-performance cars, run by similarly high-performance teams and drivers.  Nico Rosberg raced in Formula One for eleven years, claiming the title of World Champion in 2016 with Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team.  Since then, Rosberg has embarked on a career as an entrepreneur and investor in green technologies and mobility.  He is an early investor in numerous successful start-ups including Lilum, What3Words, Tier, Lyft and Formula E.  He is also co-owner of mobility engineering company TRE, and Co-Founder of the GREENTECH FESTIVAL; a global platform for cutting-edge green technologies.  In 2020, he became an official judge of the TV show Die Höhle der Löwen (the German edition of the BBCs Dragon’s Den) with the aim of investing-in and supporting sustainable startups. In this exclusive interview, I caught up with Nico Rosberg to learn about his life in F1, entrepreneurship and investment.

Thought Economics

Martin E. Hellman is a remarkable man.  He is perhaps best known for his invention, with Diffie and Merkle, of public key cryptography- the technology which (amongst other uses) enables secure internet transactions and is used to transfer trillions of dollars each day.   His work has been recognised by numerous honours including his election to the National Academy of Engineering, the National Inventors Hall of Fame and most recently- receiving the 2015 ACM Turing Award, the most prestigious honour In computer science. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Professor Hellman on how, as our capabilities accelerate, our society must approach the ethics of technology.

Thought Economics

To understand more about the exponential changes affecting our culture, economy and society; I spoke to entrepreneur, author and thought leader, Peter H. Diamandis – Founder & Executive Chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, Executive Founder of Singularity University  and Co-Founder of BOLD Capital Partners.  Peter was recently named by Fortune as one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” and is one of the world’s foremost experts on technology and change – a topic he covers in his recent book, The Future is Faster Than You Think.

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The San Francisco Bay Area (more commonly known as Silicon Valley) has a GDP of $840 billion, to put it another way – if this region was a country, it would be the 18th largest global economy, larger than the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland, and only a little smaller than Turkey and Indonesia.  It is perhaps with eyes on this prize that so many leaders therefore divert civic investment and incentivisation into the growth of technology companies. To learn more about the reality of Silicon Valley, I spoke to three world experts. Kara Swisher (Co-Founder of Recode & NYT columnist), Nicholas Thompson (Editor in Chief of WIRED), John Carreyrou (Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist & Author of Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup) and Cary Mcclelland (award-winning writer, filmmaker and human rights lawyer who is the author of Silicon City: San Francisco in the Long Shadow of the Valley).

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José Neves started his first business aged just 19, creating software for business in the North of Portugal.  His family had a history in shoemaking, and it was perhaps inevitable that fashion would play a role in his career – but few could have predicted the decade long-journey, beginning in the depths of the global financial recession, that would see José take the idea for a luxury fashion eCommerce marketplace and build it into Farfetch; a business with close to 3,000 employees, 3m customers, almost U$1bn in listed merchandise, and a market capitalisation approaching U$6bn – making José a billionaire in well-under 10 years from a standing start. I caught up with José to learn more about his entrepreneurship journey, and building a global luxury brands business.

Thought Economics

To learn more about how technology has stolen our attention; and what we can do to get it back, I spoke to James Williams (Writer & researcher on the philosophy and ethics of technology, author of ‘Stand out of Our Light’),  Jamie Bartlett (Author and Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media) and Professor Adam Alter (Author & Associate Professor of Marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business)

Thought Economics

Technology push also brings with it a range of unintended or unexpected consequences, particularly at a time (as we are now) where technology can grow from the germination of an idea to sweeping ubiquity at a frightening pace.  As a society, we seemingly cannot adapt ourselves, our culture, economy and political landscape fast enough to cope with the momentum of technological advance, but things needn’t be this way. Mitchell Baker co-founded the Mozilla Project to support the open, innovative web and ensure it continues offering opportunities for everyone. As Chairwoman of Mozilla, Mitchell   is responsible for organizing and motivating a massive, worldwide, collective of employees and volunteers around the world who are building the internet as a global public resource, open and accessible to all.   I caught up with Mitchell to ask whether we need a more human internet.

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