Who We Connect With Impacts Who We Become, and Who We Become Impacts Who We Connect With

March 30th, 2019

matthew.pngSeveral years ago, the tech company Cisco ran an ad campaign talking about the “human network.” It tried to humanize their networking products as more than just wires and routers but focused on the human beings at the other end of those wires, and the collective experience of connection.

Social connections that have been with us since man first stepped out of the cave and talked to his neighbor. All of that was before today’s social networks that have been like steroids to the idea of connection.

Today we are part of a networking feedback loop. Who we connect with impacts who we become and who we become impacts who we connect with.  If all of this sound is a bit abstract, Matthew Jackson puts it all into perspective in The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors.

My conversation with Matthew Jackson

The Brave New World of Immunotherapy

March 30th, 2019

Screen%2BShot%2B2019-03-30%2Bat%2B9.56.3It’s hard to believe today, but leaching was once considered a legitimate and effective medical practice. Years from now, we may look back upon chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer in much the same way we now look upon leaching.

In labs today, all across the world, new forms of treatment for cancer and many other diseases under the general heading of immunotherapy are being discovered. The magic of the body’s own immune system is being brought to the task. However, there is no one size fits all, no silver bullet and such treatments are not a free ride. Either with respect to costs or side effects.

Just as the discovery of penicillin and the class of antibiotics, saved millions and truly changed the world, immunotherapy is on the precipice of doing the same for the 21st century.

However, its complexity, its connection to virtually every other aspect of the human body makes its study and the ability to harness and manipulate it, the medical holy grail of our times. Helping us to understand this is Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Matt Richtel in Elegant Defense, An: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System: A Tale in Four Lives.

My conversation with Matt Richtel:

Should We Negotiate With Hostage Takers?

March 28th, 2019

Screen%2BShot%2B2019-03-28%2Bat%2B8.48.4In a world that is increasingly more authoritarian, in a political atmosphere that is more and more polarized and tribal everywhere, the threat of global hostage-taking has increased exponentially.

As the murder of Jamal Khashoggi illustrates, this threat has particularly increased for journalists, many of whom are on the front lines of reporting on repression and brutality. A record 262 journalists were jailed around the world at the end of 2018.

All of this raises the far larger question, one that journalists have to think about every day, of how should we deal, as a matter of public policy, with journalists or anyone other citizen that is taken, hostage.

The American policy has been that "we do not negotiate with hostage takers."  This policy is not universal. Many nations, including France, Spain, and others have taken a different view. The answer is not clear cut or obvious. What is clear is that sometimes playing mister tough guy is just plains stupid.

Joel Simon, a long time journalists in California and Latin America, is the Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalist.  His new work is We Want to Negotiate: The Secret World of Kidnapping, Hostages and Ransom.

My conversation with Joel Simon:

Brave, Not Perfect

March 25th, 2019

Screen-Shot-2018-12-13-at-11.06.15-AM%2BA couple of years ago, Senator Elizabeth Warren made headlines with the phrase “nevertheless she persisted.” Sheryl Sandberg told women they had to “lean in.” These approaches, while certainly valuable for dealing with the symptoms of the problems that many girls and women face, ignores the core of why these actions might, in fact, be necessary.

Men, for the most part, don't have to make the effort to persist or to lean in, because they are socialized from the beginning to do that. To be fearless, to be disruptive, to be brave.

Reshma Saujani, a graduate of Harvard and Yale law school and former NY City public advocate, is the founder of Girls Who Code. Her organization has made remarkable inroads in bringing more girls and women into STEM and technology.

But even more than just changing the gender make up of tech, she has seen coding as a kind of metaphor for teaching women to be brave.

Her Ted talk on the subject has gotten over 4 million views and now she’s expanded on it in her new book Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder

My conversation with Reshma Saujani:

How Our Lives Are Being Run By Algorithms: From the 737 to Our Daily Commute

March 21st, 2019

20190323_WBP001_0.jpgWhen Hal asked Astronaut David Bowman to “open the pod bay doors,” it was as if our most primal fear of machines came rushing headlong into the 20th century. Today, in our 21st-century world, we understand the artificial intelligence behind HAL.

We see on display every day our reliance on automation and AI and algorithms in flying our planes and soon our self-driving cars.

It’s the full blossoming of the promised brave new world. But is there anything we should or could do about it? Is it out of our control, or do we just need to surrender?

Joining me to talk about this is Kartik Hosangar, the author of A Human's Guide to Machine Intelligence: How Algorithms Are Shaping Our Lives and How We Can Stay in Control.

My conversation with Kartik Hosangar:

Facebook and Zuckerberg Not Only Screwed Up Reality..They Even Screwed Up Virtual Reality: The Story of Palmer Luckey and Oculus

March 11th, 2019

Screen%2BShot%2B2019-03-11%2Bat%2B10.10.When we talk about the broad swath of technology and its progenitors in Silicon Valley rarely are we talking about great breakthroughs. A new app for dating or dog walking, the one-hundredth messaging app or new forms of enterprise collaboration are hardly the stuff of Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates or Mitch Kapor or Robert Noyce or Bill Hewlett.

But every once in a while there is a new new thing that really matters. Like the PC or the smartphone or Microsoft Word and Excell.

For years, many thought something called Virtual Reality might be that thing. What was not know is that it would take a 19-year-old dreamer, one of odder character in a world that celebrates oddness, to make it a reality. The fact that Mark Zuckerberg the man that the European Union just called a “technology gangster,” would co-opt it and screw it up, only adds to an important chapter of legends of Silicon Valley.

Like other legends, this one is told by Blake Harris in The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality

My conversation with Blake Harris

How Our Republic Collapsed and How it Might Be Saved

March 3rd, 2019

tomasky-768x512.jpgHow many times a day do you hear or read someone opining on what’s wrong with America and American politics? As is too often the case we love to look for the simple solution. The one answer that will explain it all. The unified field theory of American politics.

But unlike physics, the answer to understanding politics, the business and the interaction of people, is more nuanced, more complex and more like evolution than physics.

Layer upon layer of behavior, decisions, and leaders have lead us to where we are today. To a politics not just of polarization, but of pure primal tribalism

Longtime journalists and author Michael Tomasky tries to peel back these layer in is his new book If We Can Keep It: How the Republic Collapsed and How it Might Be Saved.

My conversation with Michael Tomasky:

A Look at Everything that Ivanka Trump Will Never Understand About Working People in America

March 1st, 2019

stephanielandmaid.pngAs underemployment grows and many who once seemed solidly middle-class are losing their economic foothold, the working class is getting larger and more frustrated. Both its size and perspective make the working class more important than ever before. So perhaps, more than ever, Americans across the class spectrum have good reason to try and understand working-class culture and experience.

Millions of words have been written about the economic divide in America. An equally powerful divide is the one between those who make policy and those who live with the consequences of that policy. Even among well-meaning progressives, sometimes the consequences of their efforts are counter to their real objectives

Part of that comes from not really understanding the lives of working people in America. Perceptions of poverty and struggling come from our personal experience and often from popular culture and political rhetoric. That’s why it's so singularly unique and powerful when a voice emerges that can make us see what that world is really like. Today Stephanie Land adds her voice in Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive.

My conversation with Stephanie Land: