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Podcast #276: Utopia is Creepy | The Art of Manliness

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A few weeks ago, I had futurist Kevin Kelly on the podcast to discuss the technological trends that are shaping our future. From driverless cars to artificial intelligence that will make new scientific discoveries, Kevin paints a fairly rosy picture of what’s to come.

My guest today sees a different side of the coin, and argues that the future envisioned by many in Silicon Valley is, well, kind of creepy.

His name is Nicholas Carr, and he’s the author of several books that critique the wide-eyed utopianism of technologists. In his book The Shallows, he reported on the research that shows how Google is making us dumber; in The Glass Cage he explored the science on why outsourcing our work and chores to computers and robots might actually make us miserable and unsatisfied in life; and in his latest book, Utopia is Creepy, Carr pulls together all the essays he’s written over the years on how the rapid changes in technology we’ve seen in the past few decades might be robbing us of the very things that make us human.

Today on the show, Nicholas and I discuss why he thinks our utopian future is creepy, how the internet is making us dumber, and why doing mundane tasks that we otherwise would outsource to robots or computers is actually a source of satisfaction and human flourishing. We finish our discussion by outlining a middle path approach to technology — one that doesn’t reject it fully but simultaneously seeks to mitigate its potential downsides.

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