Dispatch from the #BigTech Barricades
By Amy Willis
Have you been dreaming of driverless cars like EconTalk host Russ Roberts? Well, author Matthew Crawford might turn your dreams into nightmares. Crawford joins Roberts in this episode to discuss his book, Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road. Crawford is a devotee of serendipity, and finds the open road- (NO Waze or Google maps, thank you very much) an ideal place to find it.
It turns out Crawford’s book is about more than just driving cars. A lot more. So let’s hear what you have to say. Use the prompts below to continue to conversation- either on or offline. Just not while you’re driving, please.
1- What does Crawford mean when he suggests that technology such as driverless cars will likely undermine our capacity for self-governance à la Tocqueville and lead to “a supervisory technocratic regime?”
2- Are children fundamentally conservative, as Roberts suggests? Would you call Crawford a conservative? (He mentions an Oakeshott “brand” of conservatism.) How about Roberts? What about you?
3- Roberts presses Crawford on our apparent need to push ourselves against our physical limits. How does Crawford defend that level of risk-taking? To what extent do you agree? Consider his contention (based on the work of Johan Huizinga) that we’ve eliminated too much “play” (and thereby competition) from the human experience? Is this true? If so, what should we do about it?
4- What are the bases of Crawford’s concerns about Big Tech? How does he suggest Big Tech is utilizing “choice architecture,” and why is this necessarily political? Is a “full-blown technocratic paternalism” as imminent as Crawford seems to believe?
5- Roberts describes the happiness he experiences when he lands in a new city, powers up his phone, and gets a notification about the best coffee shops in the area. Crawford retorts that while this example is relatively benign, it is “still a fundamentally different way of inhabiting the world.” How so? Again, to what extent should this worry you?