Cover image of Azeem Azhar's Exponential View

Azeem Azhar's Exponential View

How will the future unfold? What is the impact of technology on business & society? As technology reorders the world in which live, who will be the winners and who will be the losers? Join Azeem Azhar, curator of the Exponential View newsletter, in deep conversation with the world's leading thinkers and practitioners exploring these and other important questions.The views expressed on this podcast are those of its hosts, guests, and callers, and not those of Harvard Business Review.

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Homo Deus

A conversation between Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor Yuval Harari and Azeem Azhar. They cover the compelling insights in his new book, Homo Deus. Where are we, as a species, going now that we have conquered much of what ailed preceding generations? How will the twin advances of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence come together to transform humans and human society?


17 Feb 2017

Rank #1

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IKEA: Making a $40 Billion Company Climate Positive

IKEA generates 0.1 percent of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. Can this $40 billion multinational company become climate positive by 2030? Jesper Brodin, CEO of Ingka Group, joins Azeem Azhar to discuss how to grow a business while investing in renewable energy, sourcing sustainable materials, and building a circular economy. They also discuss: How being a leader in the “green revolution” is a business opportunity. How mass production could actually expedite progress towards sustainability. Why supporting customers in their efforts to re-use and recycle is part of IKEA’s plan. Further resources: “The Drive to Decarbonize with Ramez Naam” (Exponential View podcast, 2020) “Ikea says it’s easier being green if you are private” (Financial Times, 2020) “Ikea Will Buy Back Used Furniture” (New York Times, 2020) @azeem @ExponentialView


9 Dec 2020

Rank #2

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The State of Machine Learning

With more than 40% market share in mobile games, 1 billion monthly active users, and 2.6 billion unique devices, the game development platform Unity has a profoundly important role in booming gaming and VR markets. Azeem Azhar talks with Dr. Danny Lange, VP of AI and machine learning at Unity, about the role of these technologies in revolutionizing the ways games are developed and monetized. Dr. Lange talks about the significance of the undergoing paradigm shift in computing, the OODA loop in machine learning, and what happens to software engineers when their trade becomes obsolete. Before joining Unity, he led the machine learning efforts at Uber, Amazon, and Microsoft. Through his work on General Motor’s OnStar Virtual Advisor, Danny provided the foundation for the development of one of the largest deployments of an intelligent personal assistant until the arrival of Siri. Prior to joining General Magic, Dr. Lange served as the visiting scientist at IBM Tokyo Research Laboratory from 1993 to 1997, where he is known for his invention of the Java Aglet, a lightweight mobile agent for the Java programming environment. In addition to his software agent work, he has made significant contributions in the areas of hypertext technology, object-oriented database modeling, and design pattern visualization techniques.


26 May 2017

Rank #3

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Engineering Biology

Engineering biology holds the key to improving the lives of people across the world. It promises solutions to disease, food production, and pollution amongst other deep-seated problems. But this engineering is immensely difficult. CEO of LabGenius James Field, partner at NFX Gigi Levy-Weiss, partner at the investment firm Episode 1 Carina Namih, and science writer Oliver Morton come together to discuss the merging field of bioengineering. Carina, James, Gigi, and Oliver also discuss: How machine learning is improving life sciences and healthcare. Experiences of fundraising and hiring for biology companies in the UK and the U.S. The role of bio-engineering in solving major global problems, including pollution. Further reading: “35+ Companies Using Synthetic Biology To Rethink Everything From Plastics To Fabrics To Fertilizers” (CB Insights, Nov. 8, 2018) “Where Are All the Biotech Startups Raising?” (Tech Crunch, 2019) “The New Era of Life” (CognitionX, June 24, 2019) Carina Namih @CarinaNamih Oliver Morton @Eaterofsun James Field @jejfield Gigi Levy-Weiss @GigiLevy www.exponentialview.co


14 Aug 2019

Rank #4

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Fixing the Social Media Crisis

Social networks polarize communities and spread misinformation. Professor Sinan Aral, director of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy and author of The Hype Machine, joins Azeem Azhar to explore what makes these networks so powerful and how we can engineer our way to a healthier online ecosystem. They also discuss: Why powerful “network effects” lead to social media monopolies. Why forcing interoperability and “identity porting” is the key to healthy competition. Why repealing Section 230 of the (U.S.) Communications Decency Act of 1996 would be a disaster for free expression on the internet. @sinanaral @azeem @ExponentialView Further resources: “Can We Amplify the Good and Contain the Bad of Social Media?” (MIT Sloan Management Review, 2020) “Humans, not bots, are to blame for spreading false news on Twitter” (Wired, 2018) “How We Can Protect Truth in the Age of Misinformation” (TEDxCERN, 2018)


24 Feb 2021

Rank #5

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Learning from 2020: Azeem’s Takeaways

In his reflection on this tumultuous year, Azeem Azhar finds hope in our reaction to the pandemic. The achievements made through collective action and the latest technologies have been life-saving. Azeem also explores: What businesses will need in order to thrive in 2021. How new multi-stakeholder institutions will emerge to meet the challenges in the coming period of friction and fragmentation. Questions sent in by subscribers to the Exponential View Newsletter. Further reading: IKEA: Making a $40 Billion Company Climate Positive (Exponential View Podcast, 2020) What if Every Day Was Pandemic Day (Exponential View, 2020) Your Technologies of the 2020s (Exponential View, 2020) @azeem @ExponentialView


30 Dec 2020

Rank #6

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Growth and the Energy Transition with Vaclav Smil

For the first time in history, we have to tackle a truly global problem: climate breakdown. Energy transition away from fossil fuels is imperative, but there is no consensus on how to achieve this. The preeminent expert on energy history and development, Vaclav Smil, joins Azeem Azhar to explore the limits of renewables, the consequences of megacities, and why waste reduction is a game-changer. In this podcast, they also discuss: Whether the massive amounts of information we gather today has purpose. What possibilities Moore’s Law predicts for biology and chemistry. The limits of nuclear power. Further reading: “What I See When I See a Wind Turbine” (IEEE Spectrum, Vaclav Smil, March 2, 2016) “Thank Maxwell for Cellphones” (IEEE Spectrum, Vaclav Smil, Feb. 28, 2017) Inside Bill’s Brain (Netflix, 2019) @azeem @exponentialview VaclavSmil.com Exponential View newsletter


27 Nov 2019

Rank #7

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How Humans Judge Machines

“People judge humans by their intentions, and machines by the outcome,” says physicist and author Cesar Hidalgo. He is one of the creators of the field of Complexity Economics. Hidalgo joins Azeem Azhar to explain how he applies this complexity approach to understanding how we judge decision-making in machines. They also discuss: What the Shenzhen electronics market reveals about the economics of megacities. How we unconsciously ascribe morality to machines, and what this implies for innovation. Algorithmic aversion and how it will influence the implementation of AI. Further reading: “A Bold Idea to Replace Politicians” (TED, 2018) “The Autonomous Economy” (Exponential View podcast, 2019) @cesifoti @azeem @exponentialview Exponential View newsletter


4 Mar 2020

Rank #8

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The Redecentralized Web

Data monopolies and abuses of privacy are only some of the flaws of Web 2.0. Muneeb Ali, co-founder and CEO of Blockstack, tells Azeem Azhar how the emerging Web 3.0 solves these challenges and gives users more control over their digital existence. In this conversation, they discuss: Why property rights and privacy are intimately linked. The emergence of a novel app ecosystem on the new internet. The role of the new crypto economy in the transformation of the internet. Further reading: “Tech Thinks It Has a Fix for the Problem it Created: Blockchain” (The New York Times, 2018) “The Emergence of Web 3.0” (Hackernoon, 2019) “Can’t Be Evil vs. Don’t Be Evil” (Exponential View newsletter, 2020) “Beyond Digital Gold” (Exponential View newsletter, 2020) @muneeb @azeem @exponentialview Exponential View newsletter


18 Mar 2020

Rank #9

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Silicon Valley Needs a Shakedown with Chamath Palihapitiya

Chamath Palihapitiya, investor and CEO of Social Capital, joins Azeem Azhar to explore the dysfunctional relationship between capital and companies, why SPACs (special purpose acquisition companies) are such a necessary innovation, and why he’s pivoted his own firm to focus on hard, important issues like climate change and health. They also discuss: How SPACs can open up the investing ecosystem for everyday retail investors. What tech regulators should learn from GDPR and how well-intentioned regulation can go wrong. How aggressive taxation of Big Tech could redirect capital to startups. Further resources: “The Unusual Ambitions of Chamath Palihapitiya” (Institutional Investor, 2020) “Chamath Palihapitiya’s next big hustle” (Techcrunch, 2020) “The Man With Six SPACs” (Newcomer, 2020) @chamath @azeem @exponentialview Exponential View newsletter Note: Portions of the conversation that had been removed in an earlier version of this episode have been reinstated for greater clarity.


18 Nov 2020

Rank #10

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Tony Blair: Governing in the Age of AI

If the UK’s former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was in the government today, he says that he would mobilize his whole office around the technology revolution. Tony Blair and Azeem Azhar discuss why the tech leaders must collaborate with policy makers — whether they want to or not — and why regulating big technology is only a small part of the solution. In this podcast, Tony and Azeem also discuss: Why Silicon Valley needs to share societal responsibility with the public sector How the government needs to change to be at the forefront of the technology revolution How the power of the technology industry has become its greatest liability Further reading: “Tony Blair Foreword: Technology for the Many” (Institute for Global Change, November 2017) “Regulating Big Tech” (Exponential View, September 2019) “Majority Worldwide Say Their Society is Broken — An Increasing Feeling Among Britons” (IPSOS, September 2019) @InstituteGC @azeem @exponentialview www.exponentialview.co


2 Oct 2019

Rank #11

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Technology and the New World of Work

The nature of work is undergoing tremendous changes, influenced by aging populations, the digital revolution, and a paradigm shift away from Fordism. Laetitia Vitaud, author of “Du Labeur à l’ouvrage (From Labour to Work),” and Azeem Azhar discuss how the reinvention of craftsmanship is creating a new deal to ensure more equitable, sustainable, and fulfilling jobs. In this podcast, they also discuss: How Silicon Valley is bringing back the values of craftsmanship. What the single most important skill in the new world of work is. Why the jobs of tomorrow will largely be in proximity services. Further reading: “The future of work is in proximity services… But first we need to speak about work and gender” (Medium, Laetitia Vitaud, Oct. 24, 2019) “The Future of Work and Democracy in the Information Age” (Exponential View episode featuring Matthew Taylor, Nov. 7, 2018) “Bubbles, Golden Ages, and Tech Revolutions” (Exponential View episode featuring Carlota Perez, Oct. 16, 2019) @vitolae @azeem @exponentialview Exponential View newsletter


13 Nov 2019

Rank #12

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AI, Automation, and the Economy

A discussion with Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs. Jeff is one of the world’s foremost thinkers on economic development; he advises the UN and a host of governments. In a wide-ranging podcast, he and Azeem Azhar talk about how technology has improved the lives of countless humans. They explore how automated systems will increasingly replace both routine and high-skill jobs. How will our societies cope with those changes? What will we do with the inequalities that will be increasingly produced by the technology revolution? What is the role of basic income? They even have some time to talk about Aristotle.


4 Mar 2017

Rank #13

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Surveillance Capitalism

Shoshana Zuboff coined the term “surveillance capitalism” to describe the new way companies claim private human experience as products. Shoshana joins Azeem Azhar to discuss the emergence of surveillance capitalism, its pernicious and beneficial aspects, and the future for human autonomy and agency. Shoshana and Azeem also discuss: The evolution of the first surveillance capitalist. The economics of scale, scope, and action as forms of harm. How we can safeguard the beneficial aspects of technology, while preventing its covert use by surveillance capitalists. Further reading: “The Secrets of Surveillance Capitalism” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 2016) “Beyond Surveillance Capitalism: Reclaiming Digital Sovereignty” (Decode, October 2018) “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks” (PNAS, June 2014) Shoshana Zuboff @shoshanazuboff Azeem Azhar @azeem www.exponentialview.co


19 Jun 2019

Rank #14

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Making Venture Capital Work for Entrepreneurs

Leila Rastegar Zegna, co-founder and general partner of Kindred Capital, joins Azeem Azhar for a deep dive into venture capital: how it really works, what’s broken, and how to fix it. They also explore a new model for venture capital, where founders become partners in the fund. This new approach aims to align incentives for both entrepreneurs and investors, in order to build a healthier innovation community. They also discuss: Why venture capital is a “people business,” not a finance business. Why obsessiveness is a more important than expertise for founders. Why not all startups should seek funding. Further resources: “How Venture Capitalists Are Deforming Capitalism” (The New Yorker, 2020) “What Is Equitable Venture?” (Kindred Capital, 2017) “Silicon Valley Needs a Shakedown with Chamath Palihapitiya” (Exponential View podcast, 2020) @lrastegar @azeem @ExponentialView


16 Dec 2020

Rank #15

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Disrupting Finance

Artificial intelligence is unlocking new value in the banking and finance industry, but incumbents are struggling to keep pace. Azeem Azhar discusses what this means for the industry and its customers with Citi Research’s Global Sector Head for Banks Ronit Ghose, and the founder-CEOs of two leading innovators: Daniel Schreiber of Lemonade Insurance and Rishi Khosla of OakNorth Bank. Paul and Azeem also discuss: The huge role technology debt plays in obstructing legacy banks from innovating. How social networks, the smartphone, and AI grew exponentially and converged to mount a challenge to the traditional banking industry. The ways AI is cutting friction on the customer side. The ability to identify the sources of client or third-party data that can generate an algorithmically-powered image of the client and provide an insight into their ‘real’ level of risk. Further reading: “Digital Disruption: How FinTech is Forcing Banking to a Tipping Point” (Citi Velocity, March 2016) “Bank X: The New New Banks” (Citi Velocity, March 2019) “The Future Of Banking: Fintech Or Techfin?” (Forbes, Aug. 27, 2018) “Bank 4.0 Will Be All-Digital, Low-Overhead, Mobile-First” (Forbes, April 19, 2019) Ronit Ghose @ronit_ghose Daniel Schreiber @daschreiber Rishi Khosla @rishi_khosla Azeem Azhar @azeem www.exponentialview.co


29 May 2019

Rank #16

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Superintelligence Already Rules the World

Artificial decision-making machines have been with us for hundreds of years. We call them corporations and states, and they have hugely accelerated the development of our societies. That’s the argument David Runciman makes in conversation with Azeem Azhar in this week’s episode. Runciman is professor of politics at Cambridge University and host of the “Talking Politics” podcast. He and Azeem discuss what this reframing of artificial intelligence can teach us about navigating the hurdles it presents. In this podcast, they also discuss: How the current dynamics between private enterprises and states will shape the future of technology. Why the creators of artificial intelligence should account for politics when creating and implementing their technology. How generational politics will shape the 2020 U.S. elections. Further reading: “Preparing for 2030” (Exponential View, Jan. 5, 2020) “How Democracy Ends review — is people politics doomed?” (The Guardian, May 20, 2018) “Tony Blair: Governing in the Age of AI” (Exponential View podcast, Oct. 2, 2019) @TPpodcast @azeem @exponentialview Exponential View newsletter


22 Jan 2020

Rank #17

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The Future of Longevity

Philosopher and investor Dr. Shamil Chandaria investigates how we might live much longer lives and how we can make them more meaningful. He dives into the emerging medicine and science of life extension in a deep but accessible way. He explains how we should consider super-longevity and super-well-being in tandem. And in discussion with an audience we explore the motivations for — and ramifications of — much longer lives.

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8 Dec 2016

Rank #18

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Geopolitics, Technology, and Risk

Some would argue that the world is more volatile today than it was during the Cold War, and technology is catalyzing a number of fundamental changes to the world order. Geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer joins Azeem Azhar to dissect the top risks for the decade ahead. They also discuss: How technology is influencing global decoupling. How the China-U.S. relationship will shape the world in the next decade. How we should think about global challenges in a multipolar world. Further reading: “Top Risks for 2020” (Eurasia Group, Jan. 6, 2020) “Preparing for 2030” (Exponential View, Jan. 5, 2020) “Predictions for 2030” (Talking Politics, January 2020) @ianbremmer @azeem @exponentialview Exponential View newsletter


19 Feb 2020

Rank #19

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The Innovation Economy

“We haven’t really understood the power of the state,” argues economist Mariana Mazzucato, warning that this has impacted the rising inequality in wealth creation and distribution. Mariana and Azeem Azhar discuss the role of government in innovation and business growth, risk-taking as the new mentality of bureaucracy, and how the benefits of entrepreneurial innovation have been misread. Above all, the case is made for a new theory of value in today’s economy. In this conversation, Mariana and Azeem also discuss: The role of the entrepreneurial state: moving away from the concept of the state as a facilitator and towards the state as an actor in the future of public-serving innovation. Why the GDP model is flawed — but why we should retain it as one of several economic indicators. Creeping privatization of the ‘data economy.’ Further Reading: “Yes, Government Creates Wealth” (September 2018) “Let’s make private data into a public good” (June 27, 2018) “Rethinking the Smart City” (January 2018) “The unlikely tech giant empowering citizens through data” (March 12, 2019) “Strategic design for public purpose” (March 8, 2019) Mariana Mazzucato @MazzucatoM Azeem Azhar @azeem www.exponentialview.co


24 Apr 2019

Rank #20