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Jim talks with Douglas Rushkoff about the ideas in his essay series, “What’s a Meta For?” They discuss Facebook’s renaming to Meta, the semantic web, ChatGPT, a Turing test recalibration period, Rocco’s Basilisk, the conversion of the real world into a meta-world, Elon Musk as techno-monarch, the limitations of his understanding of free speech, returning Twitter to the people who use it, Zuckerberg’s Caesar obsession, Rushkoff’s criticisms of GameB, the dangers of an abstracted “omega point,” understanding the complex binding energies of GameA, dominant political isms as a result of industrialism, GameB’s schism over personal vs institutional change, the need to actually deliver, coherent pluralism, what being a member of GameB will mean, dangers of a totalizing narrative, not knowing what GameB is, cultivated insecurity, rejecting the metaverse, GameB’s resilient response to critiques, and much more.
Named one of the “world’s ten most influential intellectuals” by MIT, Douglas Rushkoff is an author and documentarian who studies human autonomy in a digital age. His twenty books include the just-published Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires, as well as the recent Team Human, based on his podcast, and the bestsellers Present Shock, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Program or Be Programmed, Life Inc, and Media Virus. He also made the PBS Frontline documentaries Generation Like, The Persuaders, and Merchants of Cool. His book Coercion won the Marshall McLuhan Award, and the Media Ecology Association honored him with the first Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity.
Rushkoff’s work explores how different technological environments change our relationship to narrative, money, power, and one another. He coined such concepts as “viral media,” “screenagers,” and “social currency,” and has been a leading voice for applying digital media toward social and economic justice. He is a research fellow of the Institute for the Future, and founder of the Laboratory for Digital Humanism at CUNY/Queens, where he is a Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics. He is a columnist for Medium, and his novels and comics, Ecstasy Club, A.D.D, and Aleister & Adolf, are all being developed for the screen.