Episode #39 – Re-engineering Humanity with Frischmann and Selinger


In this episode I talk to Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger about their book Re-engineering Humanity (Cambridge University Press, 2018). Brett and Evan are both former guests on the podcast. Brett is a Professor of Law, Business and Economics at Villanova University and Evan is  Professor of Philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Their book looks at how modern techno-social engineering is affecting humanity. We have a long-ranging conversation about the main arguments and ideas from the book. The book features lots of interesting thought experiments and provocative claims. I recommend checking it out. I highlight of this conversation for me was our discussion of the ‘Free Will Wager’ and how it pertains to debates about technology and social engineering.

You can listen to the episode below or download it here. You can also subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes (the RSS feed is here).

Show Notes

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 1:33 – What is techno-social engineering?
  • 7:55 – Is techno-social engineering turning us into simple machines?
  • 14:11 – Digital contracting as an example of techno-social engineering
  • 22:17 – The three important ingredients of modern techno-social engineering
  • 29:17 – The Digital Tragedy of the Commons
  • 34:09 – Must we wait for a Leviathan to save us?
  • 44:03 – The Free Will Wager
  • 55:00 – The problem of Engineered Determinism
  • 1:00:03 – What does it mean to be self-determined?
  • 1:12:03 – Solving the problem? The freedom to be off

Relevant Links


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