Design Ethics
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Episode 21
Featuring John Borthwick
Demetri Kofinas speaks with John Borthwick about the philosophical challenges of the modern age. How do we develop a design philosophy for machines without losing sight of our humanity? Who are we designing our world for? What do we hope to achieve from this immersive future of superintelligence, disembodied consciousness, and simulation?

In this week’s 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 their 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

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

John Borthwick has been a leader and early-stage investor in New York technology for over two decades. As founder and CEO of betaworks, he has led the company building and investment process since 2008. Companies built by betaworks include Giphy, Dots, bitly, and Chartbeat. Betaworks most recently opened it’s doors to their newest company, Studios, just this Spring. Combining physical space with software, betaworks Studios is a space for community and connection in the tech industry, where builders, investors, technologists, artists, and Entrepreneurs alike can collaborate, think, and envision humane tech products.

 

Prior to betaworks, John was SVP of Alliances and Technology Strategy for Time Warner Inc.; CEO of Fotolog, one of the first social photo sharing sites; and head of AOL’s product development studio after they acquired his first company, WP Studio, one of Silicon Alley’s first content studios. He currently serves on the boards of WNYC, New York Public Radio, Data & Society, Giphy, Dots, and Blade. John holds an MBA from Wharton and a BA in Economics from Wesleyan University.

 

@Borthwick

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