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Conversations with creators and thinkers who are charting the way forward in a tech-saturated society. Tech, community, video games, and whatever else is next.

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Options December 18, 2017: Steven Levy, tech journalist and author

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This week, live in-studio: Steven Levy, veteran tech journalist and author. Levy is founder of Backchannel, a tech news publication hosted on the Wired site. Previous positions include senior writer for Wired; and chief technology writer and a senior editor for Newsweek.

See also:

Video of Skeptech 2 conference held in Monty Hall on October 26 (feat. Jon Ronson, Nancy Lublin, and Mark Hurst)

Subscribe to the Techtonic podcast to catch up on past episodes.

Artist Track Images Approx. start time
  Interview with Steven Levy, technology journalist and author, about where tech is headed.
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Options    
  Mark's intro  
Options
0:02:22 (MP3 | )
  Interview with Steven Levy  
Options
0:14:45 (MP3 | )
  Your calls and comments  
Options
0:45:30 (MP3 | )

Listener comments!

  Mon. 12/18/17 6:02pm melinda:

Hola
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:06pm Webhamster Henry:

Hi folks! I can't really participate today, but I'll say hi to Steven Levy from Nemo of ECHO.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:07pm pinholga:

Wait, _THE_ Steven Levy?!?!?!?


OMG!!!!! Hackers was so inspiring to middle-school me!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:08pm Michael 98145:

We are not alone : www.theguardian.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:09pm Ken From Hyde Park:

I'm not on the tweeter, but I saw something about some tweeties between Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and a couple guys about net neutrality.
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:09pm Bruce F:

Elon Musk is not your friend.
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:10pm Bruce F:

He's figured out how to scam, via subsidies, all of us.
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:13pm jess:

I would like to hear more of that interview
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:14pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Thanks, more affirmation to never sign up for a Facebook account.
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:16pm rw:

Public transportation in So. Cal. does kind of suck. So does driving though.
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:17pm Dean:

That Guardian article links to the comment to FCC, which appears to be a pretty good layman's account of the Internet. It cites, for instance, to Comer's Intro to TCP/IP, a much earlier edition of which I read when I was responsible for maintaining a network with a 'net connection. Comer isn't easy reading, but the FCC comment is prudently simplified.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:20pm Evan From Seattle:

Facebook is so evil. The scary thing is, they aren't alone in their evil data collection practices and privacy violation. Google does it too, Microsoft. Everyone really. As someone who has written content for years and is now doing more marketing stuff and seeing how the sausage is made, and how much of our data and personal information we give away to we have no idea who and how we can be tracked, its terrifying. But more just really really sad and disappointing. Oh well. Really excited for this interview!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:20pm Davee:

Ack!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:21pm Davee:

Facebook is creepy and I no longer participate . . .
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 12/18/17 6:22pm coelacanth∅:

but...apple morally SUCKS! (even if their products, up till a few years ago, were good)
...and steve jobs was a dick.
people shouldn't support that shit. it's as bad as supporting ford or nestle or facadebook or amazon or ...........
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:23pm Davee:

I'm on linked in and am thinking of cutting out.....that is creepy too
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:24pm Davee:

I hate Apple, the hardware is good but software has it's shit hooks in you
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:25pm Davee:

Amazon sucks too
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:25pm Dean:

Watch it...you're wandering into "The kids these days" territory. I never thought the web approached its potential, even from the get-go.
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:25pm Jay Chakrapano:

Hi Mark!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:26pm Davee:

Kids are the most venerable
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:26pm Davee:

vulnerable
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:27pm Davee:

The best is to be anonymous
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:27pm Dean:

A version of the "guns don't kill people" argument?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:28pm Ken From Hyde Park:

I've seen a good bit about AI and enhanced reality recently. Will that be the "next big thing"?
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:28pm Evan From Seattle:

Amazon is super creepy. Also they won at capitalism. And when something is bad, and when a company is doing something evil especially with our data we need to call it out. New technology will be exploited and we have to be wary of that and not say hey is this actually something that's ok and safe for society without worrying about the "oh its a kids these days" type of thing where people wont say anything because they will think its just because its different.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:28pm Jeff Moore:

Microsoft was found in court to be a predatory monopoly - but the government failed to follow up with the appropriate remedies because right about then the George W. Bush regime arrived in Washington, and the case was allowed to drop.
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:30pm Dean:

FB announced it using the most cloyingly bullshit-laden business school jargon: "To help us foster more authentic engagement..."
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:33pm Michael 98145:

@Dean, back when we were attending Interop in the late 80s, we never thought it would come to this place
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 12/18/17 6:34pm coelacanth∅:

well, starfucks is also a predatory monopoly but most americans aren't going to stop buying their overpriced and really shitty coffee are they. it's so convenient - and fashionable.
most people don't comprehend the concept of pragmatism or responsibility.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:34pm Davee:

BBBUUUUURRRRPPPP!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 12/18/17 6:34pm coelacanth∅:

(whole foods and trader joe's,also - on that level)
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:34pm Davee:

I do not shop at starbucks and I am proud
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 12/18/17 6:35pm coelacanth∅:

haha nice
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:35pm Dean:

Hey, @coelacanth∅, last minute on Scott's show I found this:
https://www.thespruce.com/polish-horseradish-recipe-chrzan-1137522
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:36pm Davee:

I try my darnest to use my local small business. I am usually successful, I am pissed when small business do not succeed
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:37pm Davee:

GET WITH IT PEOPLE USE YOUR LOCAL BUSINESSES
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:37pm Linda Lee:

incremental elimination of personal space altogether, down to one's physical traits. what sh*t.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:37pm Davee:

THE COORPORATE ENVIRONMENT DOES NOT CARE ABOUT PEOPLE
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:38pm Linda Lee:

i can't imagine a more efficient dystopia .. based in consumer desire.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 12/18/17 6:38pm coelacanth∅:

Dean i checked that out Thank you! that's probably it (although it doesn't mention beets; but there're likely variations on it...or i just THOUGHT there were beets in it because of the color)
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:38pm Dean:

Beg to differ: the introduction of GUI as the default interface disturbed some of us. Maybe not "creepy," but not salutary.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:38pm Michael 98145:

I am pissed when a small business does not succeed and the location becomes -another- major bank branch
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:39pm Jeff Moore:

You're focusing on "Insanely Great" and Apple cheerleading, which may be a generational thing - Macs are fine (fine enough that they've continued to be my preferred desktop since they became real computers with the move to OS X), but I'd contend that the most important history Steven Levy wrote is "Hackers".

It's about the real history of computer geeks, as it started at the MIT Model Railroad Club. Anyone who really wants to understand computer culture's true heart should read Levy's "Hackers" and the Jargon File (the latter available online).
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:39pm Davee:

@Michael: HERE HERE!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:39pm Linda Lee:

Michael 98145 ~ this happens when there's no actual fealty to the community on the part of company shareholders.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:40pm Davee:

SHOP LOCAL!!!!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:40pm Davee:

not a brainer
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:41pm Davee:

avoid corporate crap!
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:41pm Dean:

Public libraries. Go back to public libraries.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:41pm Davee:

ah. good idea!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:41pm Michael 98145:

never left them, @Dean
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:42pm Linda Lee:

be nice if they weren't closing on us due to lack of support ..
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:42pm Davee:

It is too convenient to shop corporate, that is the problem
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:42pm Davee:

WE NEEDTO FART MORE!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:43pm Linda Lee:

& if we're utterly overworked & over-scheduled & drowning in stress, we love our convenience.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:44pm Jeff Moore:

[Before OS X, Macs were just shiny toys for people who like to draw pictures. Around the same time, Sun workstations already existed and and were built on a far more solid software foundation.]
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:45pm Davee:

I think we need a toaster that can toast 24 slices of toast
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:45pm Michael 98145:

embrace the WFMU-ness
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:46pm Dean:

Re: burdensome regulation, I'm encouraged to see this 2011 reminiscence of Horwitz's The Irony Of Regulatory Reform: https://inpropriapersona.com/the-irony-of-regulatory-reform/ A good book, one that often comes to mind, even today.
Avatar Mon. 12/18/17 6:46pm Phil with the phone:

@dave it's called an oven
@everyone else we'll be taking calls in about a minute, call in at 201-209-9368!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:47pm Michael 98145:

[ i remember being impressed by the Amiga systems ]
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:48pm Davee:

I'm welded
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:48pm northguineahills:

Loving this, thanks Mark and Steven (busy at work on one of the aforementioned machines)
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:49pm Davee:

I would call but u will not like what I have to say
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:50pm Linda Lee:

neural interface. god help us.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:51pm Linda Lee:

leave me the hell alone with that. stay out of my goddamn brain.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:52pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Lovely, your AmazonBrain® will order stuff as you think of it.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:53pm Linda Lee:

i've never been happier to be 60 years old & on my way out. this is disgusting.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:53pm Jeff Moore:

Microsoft Windows, on the other hand - is the answer to a question nobody ever should have asked.

("Can we take this simple CP/M-ripoff program loader and staple a graphical user interface on top to create a fragile and ugly top layer which will fool people into using it instead of already-existing far better other platforms?")
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:53pm Michael 98145:

[ Alexa, what am i thinking? ]
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 12/18/17 6:54pm coelacanth∅:

there are so many weak people out there who have been convinced this is a good thing.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:54pm Linda Lee:

thought-crime becomes a real thing now.
  Mon. 12/18/17 6:55pm Dean:

Why such technolust? I blame Star Trek. I remember a profile of Marvin Minsky in New Yorker c.'81. I read the thing then and came away with the sense that he was creepy. Since then, of course, proponents of AI distance themselves from the technology's founding, and for good technical reasons, I'm sure. But the weird pipe dream mentality that drives popular promotion of this stuff is insufferable.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:55pm northguineahills:

Well said, Jeff.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:55pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Virtual reality money: the Bitcoin.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:56pm Michael 98145:

PK Dick was a Prophet
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 12/18/17 6:56pm coelacanth∅:

they've already got the telescreens in every home. the people have voluntarily installed them. (they even take them where they go)
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:57pm Michael 98145:

thanx again, Mark H
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:57pm Linda Lee:

exactly coelacanth! now it's proven, we'll line up to buy just about anything they properly sell us.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:58pm Jeff Moore:

This flew by!
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:58pm Linda Lee:

we're beyond thinking clearly, collectively. sheep to the slaughter. what a shame.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:58pm melinda:

@Dean I agree
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:58pm Michael 98145:

the Borg with tattoos
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 6:59pm Linda Lee:

thanks Mark.
Avatar Mon. 12/18/17 6:59pm Phil with the phone:

I won't be here next week! Merry Christmas all, I'll see you next year <3
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 12/18/17 6:59pm coelacanth∅:

Thanks Mark
...i'll likely be suffering through family stuff next monday.
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 7:01pm Michael 98145:

a future made in china packaged in mexico
Avatar Swag For Life Member    Mon. 12/18/17 7:12pm Davee:

@Michael - well said
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