Technology has rapidly transformed our world, and capitalism has accelerated the pace of innovation and economic activity along with it. While venture capitalists dream of unicorn startups, and concentrated wealth accumulates through IPOs, serious, even devastating consequences have taken shape: from the loss of privacy and lack of investment in workers to threats to democracy. Thorny issues such as the ethics of artificial intelligence and surveillance technologies conjure dystopian nightmares contrary to the utopian dreams of entrepreneurs.
A collaboration between Public Books and SFMOMA’s Public Knowledge initiative, this discussion explores how tech might be redirected beyond capitalism, towards an alternative future. Could new technologies, whether imagined or real, point to a shared future of economic cooperation and democratic decision-making? Could new technologies prioritize addressing human needs and the greater threat of climate change? Or has history shown us that our faith in tech is misplaced—that its abuses and manipulations outweigh its potential to liberate? Referencing science fiction, art, design, and beyond, the panelists investigate the possibilities of a new technological dawn.
Finn Brunton, assistant professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU Steinhardt, author of Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrency
Kim Stanley Robinson, writer of science fiction, author of the trilogy Red Mars and New York 2140.
Andrea Steves, curator, Museum of Capitalism
Xiaowei Wang, designer, developer and dreamer, creative director at Logic Magazine.
Caitlin Zaloom, editor-in-chief of Public Books (moderator)