Last month, a Pew Research survey methodologist, a rabbi, a Tlingit tribal leader, an Islamic scholar, an entrepreneur, a sociologist, a law professor, a journalist, an investor, and a BBC researcher walked into a virtual room for a profound conversation about how our lives are measured.
Interviews, essays, and research exploring the frontiers of what's valuable and in our self-interest
Data is fire
INTERVIEWEE: Jeff Hammerbacher
BACKGROUND: Scientist, software developer, Cofounder of Cloudera and Related Sciences, founding manager of Facebook’s Data team
TOPIC: What gets measured
LISTEN: On the web, Apple, Spotify
“It makes me uneasy when I think about how much corporations are measuring about human interactions today and not making considered decisions about what gets measured. Deciding what gets measured is a political and ethical choice." — Jeff Hammerbacher
Interviewee: Lianne Kerlin
Background: Senior Research Scientist at the BBC
Topic: Moving to a world beyond consumption
“We’re working towards a world beyond consumption. Where reach and consumption are clearly important things to measure, but they're not the only measures of success.” — BBC Senior Research Scientist Lianne Kerlin
“How do we connect the values that we inherently have to what gets measured?” — Silka Sietsma, Head of Emerging Design at Adobe
Interviewee: Esther Dyson
Background: Journalist, tech analyst and investor, executive founder of Wellville
Topic: Using tech to manipulate ourselves
“What I want is for people to use tech to manipulate themselves. To understand what is being done to them through technology and to take over that power to manipulate themselves.” — Esther Dyson
"The positive conditions of freedom [are] going to require data infrastructure. The bet that I’m making is that people are down to contribute to the positive conditions of their freedom if it's pitched to them that way." — Salome Viljoen
If you’ve ever slept outdoors or even just watched a survival reality show, you know the importance of fire. Fire is warmth, energy, safety. Fire bridges the line between comfort and discomfort. Even life and death.
Early humans’ ability to tame fire — which took hundreds of thousands of years to develop — changed the course of history. Human biology too. Taming fire led to cooked food which increased the calories in human diets, growing the size of our brains.
Fire was and is pivotal. But fire is also dangerous. It kills people. It’s difficult to tame. It’s not easy to get.
We see ourselves as far more advanced than our ancestors, but we face a strikingly similar situation today with a force just as powerful and mysterious. Our fire is called data.