Andrew Keen is the Anthony Bourdain of technology. The author, entrepreneur and futurist has traveled the far corners of the world to see what works and what doesn't. He has seen the internet reflecting both the best and the worst of us, and concluded that we and our technology need to grow up.
In this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Keen talks to Jeff Schechtman about the next chapters in the digital revolution.
Keen reminds us that we’ve been here before. The digital revolution is not that dissimilar from revolutions and changes that preceded it. But “history is not an algorithm.”
To shape technology — before it shapes us — will take human agency to make the kind of changes that will allow us to define ourselves in contrast to our machines.
Keen outlines five tools to fix our digital future. Among them, we need to address inequality, jobs and education, he says, and we need to bring humanity back into the sciences. He admonishes us that, while our technological future may be global, Silicon Valley is not the center of the world. Important trends are happening elsewhere.
He also talks extensively about how consumers have been turned into a digital product, in what he calls “Surveillance Capitalism.” He argues that this business model cannot continue to work: we need to stop thinking of the digital world as free, and start paying for everything from the internet itself — just as we pay for food, clothing and cars. We need to take responsibility for our digital future and not leave it to others. Finally, we’re left with the reminder that, as far as technology goes, the really important stuff is yet to come.
Andrew Keen is the author of How To Fix the Future (Atlantic Monthly Press, February 2018), The Internet Is Not the Answer (Grove Press, January 2016), and The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the rest of today’s user-generated media are destroying our economy, our culture, and our values (Doubleday, August 2008).