John Borthwick

Ep.21: Design Philosophy, Superintelligence, Relativism, and Simulation with John Borthwick


Episode Summary for Design Philosophy, Superintelligence, Relativism, and Simulation with John Borthwick

In this episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with John Borthwick, about design philosophy, superintelligence, relativism, and simulation. John Borthwick is CEO and Co-founder of Betaworks, a startup platform that builds and invests in companies across the social, data-driven media Internet. The Betaworks platform combines three areas of expertise. The first is a studio for building products like Giphy, Dots, bitly, and Tweetdeck. The second is an investment fund for early-stage start-ups related to the areas in which the company is building (investments here include: Tumblr, Kickstarter, Medium and Gimlet). Lastly, there is “camp”: a thematic accelerator program for start-ups in frontier technology such as Bots, AI, and Verbal Computing. In this manner, John Borthwick and his team at Betaworks combine art and science in their design philosophy, as they create extraordinary companies and work with exceptional people across the technological landscape.

In this conversation, Demetri and John blur the line between man and machine. “Computers are no longer that ‘other’ thing, that ‘other’ object. The line between machines and humans is becoming indistinguishable,” says John Borthwick. The two reconsider our place as observers and users of technology in this increasingly intermediated universe of digital experience. They reimagine consciousness and explore a theory of mind that questions our notions of humanity, our sense of identity, and our assumptions of free will. How do we develop a design philosophy for our machines without losing sight of our humanity? Who are we designing our world for? And, what do we hope to achieve as we dissolve into this immersive technological future of superintelligence, disembodied consciousness, relativism, and simulation?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas
Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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Reading List for Design Philosophy, Superintelligence, Relativism, and Simulation with John Borthwick

A Brief History of the Future: The Origins of the Internet, by John Naughton
Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, by Harold Bloom
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, by Julian Jaynes
Speed Limits: Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left, by Mark C. Taylor
The Medium is the Massage, Marshall McLuhan
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, Daniel J. Boorstin
The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America, Leo Marx
The Reformation: A History, Diarmaid MacCulloch
The Birth of Tragedy & The Genealogy of Morals, Friedrich Nietzsche
Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle
The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads, Tim Wu
The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve Your Toughest Business Problems by Christian Madsbjerg
Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm by Christian Madsbjerg
Being and Time by Martin Heidegger
The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
Knowledge Is Beautiful: Impossible Ideas, Invisible Patterns, Hidden Connections by David McCandless
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
Chaos: Making a New Science, by James Gleick
The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, by James Gleick
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, by Nick Bostrom
The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, by Ray Kurzweil
The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, by Erik Brynjolfsson
How to Fix the Future Hardcover, by Andrew Keen