Episodit

  • When we talk about AI, we’re often talking about a very particular, narrow form of intelligence — the sort of analytical competence that can win you games of GO or solve complex math equations. That type of intelligence is important, but it’s incomplete. Human affairs don’t operate on reason and logic alone. They sometimes don't operate on reason and logic at all.

    In 1995, computer scientist Rosalind Picard wrote a paper and subsequent book making the case that the fields of computer science and AI should take emotion seriously, and providing a framework for how machines could come to understand, express and monitor emotion. That project launched the field of “Affective Computing” and today Picard is the founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at MIT, and a leading inventor and entrepreneur in affective computing. 

    In this conversation, Picard and I discuss the importance of emotional cognition to human decision-making, how emotion-tracking technology is being used to help disadvantaged populations (but could also be used to bring about dystopian results), how affective computing deals with the subjective expressions of human emotions, what studying affective computing taught her about interacting with other humans, why Picard believes the goal of AI technology should be to “empower the weak”and “reduce inequality,” and much more.

    Book recommendations:
    The Bible (stick around for the reasoning behind this one)


    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editer/ Jack-of-all-audio-trades Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • My first conversation with Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen in fall 2019 was one of my all-time favorites. I didn’t expect to have Allen on again so soon, but her work is unusually relevant to our current moment.

    She’s written an entire book about the deeper argument of the Declaration of Independence and the way our superficial reading and folk history of the document obscures its radicalism. (It’ll make you look at July Fourth in a whole new way). Her most recent book, Cuz, is a searing indictment of the American criminal justice system, driven by watching her cousin go through it and motivated by the murder that ended his life. Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, which Allen directs, has released the most comprehensive, operational road map for mobilizing and reopening the US economy amidst the Covid-19 crisis. And to top it all off, a two-year bipartisan commission of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, which Allen co-chaired, recently released a report with more than 30 recommendations on how to reform American democracy — and they’re very, very good.

    This is a wide-ranging conversation for a wide-ranging moment. Allen and I discuss what “all men are created equal” really means, why the myth of Thomas Jefferson’s sole authorship of the Declaration of Independence muddies its message, the role of police brutality in the American revolution, democracy reforms such as ranked-choice voting, DC statehood, mandatory voting, how to deal with a Republican Party that opposes expanding democracy, the case for prison abolition, the various pandemic response paths before us, the failure of political leadership in this moment, and much more.

    References:
    My first conversation with Danielle Allen
    Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center's Covid-19 work
    "Our Common Purpose" report on reinventing democracy for the 21st century

    Book recommendations:
    To Shape a New World by Brandon Terry and Tommie Shelby 
    Solitary by Alfred Woodfox 
    The Torture Letters by Laurence Ralph


    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editer/ Jack-of-all-audio-trades Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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    Paina tästä ja päivitä feedi.

  • Land of the Giants is a podcast from our friends at Recode and the Vox Media Podcast Network that examines the most powerful tech companies of our time.
     
    The second season is called The Netflix Effect, and it’s hosted by Recode editors Rani Molla and Peter Kafka.
     
    The Netflix Effect explores how a company that began as a small DVD-by-mail service ultimately upended Hollywood and completely changed the way we watch TV.
     
    It’s a fascinating look at what really goes on behind the scenes at Netflix, one of the few companies that’s actually growing during the pandemic, and how they’re continuing to transform entertainment for you and me.  
     
    New episodes are released every Tuesday morning. 
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In 1964, the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan wrote his opus Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. In it, he writes, “In the long run, a medium's content matters less than the medium itself in influencing how we think and act." Or, put more simply: "Media work their magic, or their mischief, on the nervous system itself."

    This idea — that the media technologies we rely on reshape us on a fundamental, cognitive level — sits at the center of Nicholas Carr's 2010 book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. A world defined by oral traditions is more social, unstructured, and multi-sensory; a world defined by the written written word is more individualistic, disciplined, and hyper-visual. A world defined by texting, scrolling and social feedback is addicted to stimulus, constantly forming and affirming expressions of identity, accustomed to waves of information.

    Back in 2010, Carr argued that the internet was changing how we thought, and not necessarily for the better. “"My brain, I realized, wasn't just drifting,” he wrote. “It was hungry. It was demanding to be fed the same way the net fed it — and the more it was fed, the hungrier it became.” His book was a finalist for the Pulitzer that year, but dismissed by many, including me. Ten years on, I regret that dismissal. Reading it now, it is outrageously prescient, offering a framework and language for ideas and experiences I’ve been struggling to define for a decade. 

    Carr saw where we were going, and now I wanted to ask him where we are. In this conversation, Carr and I discuss how speaking, reading, and now the Internet have each changed our brains in different ways, why "paying attention" doesn't come naturally to us, why we’re still reading Marshall McLuhan, how human memory actually works, why having your phone in sight makes you less creative, what separates "deep reading” from simply reading, why deep reading is getting harder, why building connections is more important than absorbing information, the benefits to collapsing the world into a connected digital community, and much more.

    The point of this conversation is not that the internet is bad, nor that it is good. It’s that it is changing us, just as every medium before it has. We need to see those changes clearly in order to take control of them ourselves. 

    Book recommendations:
    The Control Revolution by James R. Beniger
    The Four-Dimensional Human by Laurence Scott
    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editer - Jeff Geld
    Research Czar - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Believe it or not, we’re already halfway through 2020. What a great year so far, huh? Just a delight. That means it’s time for an AMA. Among the questions you asked:

    If Joe Biden is elected president, what should his administration's first legislative priority be? 

    What were the best critiques of Why We’re Polarized? 

    How much of today's political conflict comes down to the Boomer/Millennial divide?

    What’s your reading process?

    What does preparation for EK Show episodes look like?

    If you were only intellectually accountable to beauty and not truth, what religion would you choose? 

    What’s your favorite non-Vox podcast?

    What’s your biggest takeaway from year 1 of being a dad?

    East coast or west coast? 

    What are the episodes that you have the most fun doing? 

    What’s an important identity of yours that doesn’t usually come out on the show? 

    Roge Karma joins me for this one.

    References:
    "In praise of polarization" by Ezra Klein
    "Imagining the nonviolent state" by Ezra Klein

    Ezra's book recommendations:
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    Beyond Ideology by Francis Lee
    What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer 

    Most fun EK Shows:
    I build a world with fantasy master N.K. Jemisin
    The art of attention, with Jenny Odell
    Tracy K. Smith changed how I read poetry
    How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editer/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld
    Researcher/Guest host - Roge Karma
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  • I got my start as a blogger. But more specifically, I got my start as a health policy blogger. My first piece of writing I remember people really caring about was a series called “The Health of Nations,” in which I checked out books from college library, downloaded international reports, and profiled the world’s leading health systems. It was crude stuff, but it taught me a lot. The way we do health care isn’t the only way to do health care. It’s not the best way, or the second best, or the third.

    Ezekiel Emanuel is a bioethicist, oncologist, and co-director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Health Transformation Institute. He was a top health policy advisor in the Obama administration, he’s a senior fellow at the Center for American progress, he makes his own artisanal chocolate, and he’s got a new book — Which Country Has the World’s Best Healthcare? — where he goes into more detail than I ever did, or could, to profile other health systems and rank them against our own.

    So, yes, this is a conversation about which country has the world’s best health system. But it’s also about how innovation in health care actually works, whether there’s any evidence private insurers add actual value, whether health care is the best investment to make in improving health (spoiler: no), how do you improve a health system when half of the political system will fight like hell against those improvements, and much more. Emanuel has also been doing a lot of work on coronavirus policy, and so we spend some time there, discussing the question that’ tormenting me now: Are we simply giving up that fight? And is there even a politically viable option to giving up, given how much time the government has wasted and how exhausted the public is?

    Book recommendations:
    Master of the Senate by Robert Caro
    The Last Place on Earth by Roland Huntford
    On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith


    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editer/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The criminal justice system asks three questions: What law was broken? Who broke it? And what should the punishment be? Upon that edifice — and channeled through old bigotries and fears — we have built the largest system of human incarceration on earth. America accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its imprisoned population. 

    Restorative justice asks different questions: Who was harmed? What do they need? And whose obligation is it to meet those needs? It is a radically different model, with profoundly different results both for victims and perpetrators. Studies show restorative justice programs leave survivors more satisfied, cut recidivism rates, and cost less. If we’re thinking about rebuilding the criminal justice program, restorative justice should be central to that conversation. 

    sujatha baliga is the director of the Restorative Justice Project at Impact Justice. She won a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2019. She’s a survivor of abuse herself. Her work points toward a new paradigm for criminal justice: one focused on repairing breaches, not exacting retribution. And it carries lessons for how our politics might function, how our society could heal some of its oldest wounds, and how we live our own precious lives. 

    References:
    "Imagining the nonviolent state" by Ezra Klein
    Healing Resistance: A Radically Different Response to Harm by Kazu Haga
    Book recommendations:
    For the Benefit of All Beings by the Dalai Lama 
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn
    The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness by Simon Wiesenthal

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher extraordinaire - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In his new book, The Decadent Society, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat diagnoses America’s core problems as decadence: “a situation in which repetition is more the norm than innovation; in which sclerosis afflicts public institution and private enterprises alike; in which intellectual life seems to go in circles; in which new developments in science, new exploratory projects, underdeliver compared with what people recently expected.”

    Douthat argues that there is a kind of ideological exhaustion, a spiritual malaise, at the center of the American project. We are a victim of our own successes, undone by our own achievements, and unable to break free from our oldest debates. But is he right?

    Ross and I cover a lot of ground in this conversation. We discuss why conservative Catholics talk so much more about sex than poverty, the dangers of the expansionary impulse, whether psychedelic culture is an antidote to decadence, the importance of utopian ambition, the moral foundations of effective altruism, the problem with contemporary science fiction, whether political liberalism is dependent on Christian metaphysics, why America can’t build, whether war is necessary for existential meaning, how the New York Times op-ed page has changed over the past decade, and much more.

    Book recommendations:
    From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun
    The Illusion of the End by Jean Baudrillard
    The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
    The Children of Men by PD James



    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • You may have been following — I hope you are following — the New York Times's recent UFO reporting. Videos that the Navy confirms are real show pilots seeing and marveling over craft they can't explain. And as former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put it, those videos “only scratch the surface” of the Pentagon's UFO research.

    UFOs are one of those topics that it’s hard to take seriously because they’re covered in kitsch and conspiracy. But there are those who take them seriously, which means approaching the question with humility. The history, frequency, and consistency of these events point toward something that merits study. But the explanations we force onto them — from religious visitations to aliens — confuse us further. We’re working backward from beliefs we already have, not forward from phenomena we don’t understand. 

    Diana Walsh Pasulka is a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. In 2019, she published a fascinating book called American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology, in which she embeds in the world of UFO research and tries to understand it using the tools of religious scholarship. The results are revelatory in terms of theory but also in terms of the things she sees, learns, and is forced to confront.

    Sometimes it's healthy — and, to be honest, fun — to train our attention on what we can't explain, not just what we can. In this episode, we do just that.

    Book recommendations:
    Passport to Magonia by Jacques Vallee
    Authors of the Impossible by Jeffrey J. Kripal
    UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record by Leslie Kean


    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In 2017, Paul Butler published the book Chokehold: Policing Black Men. For Butler the chokehold is much more than a barbaric police tactic; it is also a powerful powerful metaphor for understanding how racial oppression functions in the US criminal justice system. 

    Butler describes a chokehold as “a process of coercing submission that is self-reinforcing. A chokehold justifies additional pressure on the body because a body does not come into compliance, but a body cannot come into compliance because of the vice grip that is on it.” That, he says, is the black experience in the United States. 

    Butler knows that experience all too well. He began his legal career as a criminal prosecutor, a job that he describes in this conversation as “basically just locking up black men.” Then, the tables turned and Butler found himself falsely accused of a misdemeanor assault. "After that experience I didn’t want to be a prosecutor any more," he writes. "I don’t think every cop lies in court but I know for sure that one did." 

    That experience put Butler on a journey very different than the one he began. Butler, now a Georgetown Law professor, has come to believe that the criminal justice system is not merely broken and in need of repair; rather, it is working exactly as it was designed, and thus needs to be completely reimagined.

    Book recommendations:
    Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
    Sula by Toni Morrison

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Editor - Jackson Bierfeldt
    Researcher - Roge Karma
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  • The first question I asked Ta-Nehisi Coates, in this episode, was broad: What does he see right now, as he looks out at the country? “I can't believe I'm gonna say this,” he replied, “but I see hope. I see progress right now.”

    Coates is the author of the National Book Award-winner Between the World and Me and The Water Dancer, among others. We discuss how this moment differs from 1968, the tension between “law” and “order,” the contested legacy of MLK, Trump's view of the presidency, police abolition, why we need to renegotiate the idea of “the public,” how the consensus on criminal justice has shifted, what Joe Biden represents, the proper role of the state, the poetry Coates recommends, and much more. 

    But there’s one thread of this conversation, in particular, that I haven’t been able to put down: There is now, as there always is amidst protests, a loud call for the protesters to follow the principles of nonviolence. And that call, as Coates says, comes from people who neither practice nor heed nonviolence in their own lives. But what if we turned that conversation around: What would it mean to build the state around principles of nonviolence, rather than reserving that exacting standard for those harmed by the state?

    Book recommendations:
    Punishment and Inequality in America by Bruce Western
    Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration by Devah Pager
    The Country Between Us by Carolyn Forche

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Editor - Jackson Bierfeldt
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Dutch historian and De Correspondent writer Rutger Bregman got famous for the lashings he gave Tucker Carlson and the assembled plutocrats of Davos. But his work is far more utopian than polemical. The conversation we had on this show almost a year ago on his previous book Utopia for Realists is still one of my favorites.

    Bregman's new book, Humankind: A Hopeful History, is even more ambitious: it's an effort to establish that human beings, human nature, is kinder, friendlier, more decent, than we are given credit for. And that a new world could be built atop that understanding.

    I'm not convinced by everything in this book, to be honest. But that tension makes this conversation unusually generative. We discuss the deeply social, egalitarian lives of hunter-gatherers, whether the advent of human civilization was a huge mistake, and how our views toward religious faith have changed radically since our early 20s; and we debate whether humans have a nature at all, the implications of the Holocaust, whether we can build a society without CEOs, politicians, and bureaucrats, and more

    By the end, I'm still not sure I believe there is one human nature. But, I do think that if we believed Bregman's view of our nature, rather than, say, Donald Trump's view of our nature, maybe we could build something much more beautiful.

    Book recommendations:
    Affluence without Abundance by James Suzman
    Behind the Shock Machine by Gina Perry
    The Lost Boys by Gina Perry
    How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog) by Lee Alan Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • I first met Cyrus Habib at a conference a few years ago. You don't forget him. He's a Rhodes scholar. Iranian-America. As lieutenant governor of Washington state, he was the youngest Democrat elected to statewide office in the country. And he's blind.

    Then, a couple of weeks ago, I read a piece in the New York Times that I didn't expect: Habib, who had a clear shot to be the next governor of Washington, is leaving politics to become a Jesuit. He is going to take a vow of obedience, of poverty, of chastity. He is going to give up his phone for years. And most fascinating of all, he doesn’t think of it as an act of sacrifice. “I don’t see it as a shrinking of my world,” he told the Times. "I see it as a shrinking of my self.”

    That is not something you read every day. So I asked Habib if he would come on the podcast and talk to me about this decision. The result is a remarkable conversation about Habib’s intertwining faith and political journeys, what you can and can’t achieve through political service, whether religion is the modern counterculture, how the forces of meritocracy and achievement ensnare even their winners, what it means to lead a life of joy, whether freedom comes through choice or constraint, the Jesuit theory of social change, whether a decision like this is selfish or selfless, and so much more.

    This conversation takes a bit of a winding path. But where it goes is really, really worth it.

    Book recommendations:
    The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin
    Tattoos on the Heart by Greg Boyle
    Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon
    Laudato Si' by Pope Francis


    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • I’ve known Cornell economist Robert Frank for almost 15 years. And for as long as I’ve known him, Frank has been trying to convince his fellow economists of an idea that’s simple to state, but radical in its implications: social pressure is a fundamental economic force. We are not rational, individual economic agents; we are social animals trying to mimic, and best each other — oftentimes without even knowing it. The failure of the economics profession to see this is, in Frank's view, a crime against public policy.

    Frank’s new book, Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work, came out shortly before coronavirus reshaped daily life. But it is, for that very reason, extraordinarily timed: it’s an effort to show that the economics of social contagion could reshape the world, solving our hardest problems — from climate change to income inequality — and offering new ways to think about the power we have as individuals. Absent coronavirus, its argument might’ve seemed abstract, optimistic. But now we've seen it happen.

    We are watching a version of Frank’s thesis play out right now, in real time. In the wake of coronavirus, social pressure has driven perhaps the single fastest behavioral transformation in human history. It is the example and pressure we face from each other that has made social distancing so effective, so fast. And if social pressure can do that — what else can it do?

    What Frank offers here is a theory of how public policy can shape peer pressure for good and for bad. Some of the ideas in this podcast — "expenditure cascades," "positional goods" — are hard to unsee once you see them. Others — like his proposal to rebuild the tax system around a progressive consumption tax meant to curb the intra-wealthy competitions that drive inequality — would radically reshape vast swaths of the tax code.

    Book recommendations:
    The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells
    Micromotives and Macrobehavior by Thomas Schelling
    "How to solve climate change and make life more awesome" with Saul Griffith (podcast)

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Grocery store clerks. Fast food cashiers. Hospice care workers. Bus drivers. Farm workers. Along with doctors and nurses, these are the people who are putting their own lives at risk to keep our society functioning day in and out amid the worst crisis of our lifetimes. We call them heroes, we label them “essential,” and we clap for their brave efforts -- even though none of them signed up for this monumental task, and many of them lack basic healthcare, paid sick leave, a living wage, cultural respect and dignified working conditions. 

    How did things get this way? Why did we end up with an economy that treats our most essential workers as disposable? And what does an alternative future of work look like? 

    Mary Kay Henry is the president of the Service Employees International Union, a 2 million person organization that represents a huge segment of America’s essential workers. If you ask a traditional economist why essential workers are paid so little, they’ll talk about marginal productivity and returns to education; ask Kay Henry and she’ll talk about something very different: power.

    Book recommendations:
    White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
    Lead from the Outside by Stacey Abrams
    The Dowry by Lorraine Paolucci Macchello

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Times of London called Mariana Mazzucato “the world’s scariest economist.” Quartz describes her as “on a mission to save capitalism from itself.” Wired says she has “a plan to fix capitalism,” and warns that “it’s time we all listened.

    ”Mazuccato is an economist at University College London and Founder and Director of UCL's Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. She’s the author of The Entrepreneurial State and The Value of Everything — two books that, together, critique some of the most fundamental economic assumptions of our time, and try and chart a different path forward.

    This is a moment that demands critique. The workers who are being called “essential” now were treated as disposable before — paid low wages, offered little respect. The difference between states with innovative, capable public sectors and states where government agencies have been dismissed and defunded is on terrible display. 

    The debates Mazzucato has been trying to open for years are now unavoidable. So let’s have them.

    Book recommendations:
    Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar 
    The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton
    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
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  • While you read these words, the universe is splitting into countless copies. New realities, all with a version of you, exactly like you are now, but journeying off into their own branch of the multiverse.
    Maybe.
    Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at CalTech, the host of the Mindscape podcast, and author of, among other books, Something Deeply Hidden, which blew my mind a bit. He is also a believer in, and defender of, the “many-worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics, which has to be one of the five most fun things in the world to think about. Science!
    This is a conversation where I get to do something I’ve always wanted to do: Ask a real quantum physicist all of my questions about quantum physics. And then ask again, when I don’t understand the answer, which I usually don’t. And then again, when I sort of understand, but there’s still a part tripping me up. Carroll is wonderfully patient and beautifully clear, and the result is a conversation I haven’t stopped telling friends about since I had it. This world sucks right now. Let’s think about some other ones.


    References:
    The Biggest Ideas in the Universe! YouTube series
    Book recommendations:
    How Physics Makes Us Free by J. T. Ismael
    How the Universe Got Its Spots by Janna Levin
    The Calculus Diaries by Jennifer Ouellette

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • In Michigan, African Americans represent 14 percent of the population, 33 percent of infections, and 40 percent of deaths. In Mississippi they represent 38 percent of the population, 56 percent of infections, and 66 percent of deaths. In Georgia they represent 16 percent of the population, 31 percent of infections, and just over 50 percent of deaths. The list goes on and on: Across the board, African Americans are more likely to be infected by Covid-19 and far more likely to die from it.
    This doesn’t reflect a property of the virus. It reflects a property of our society. Understanding why the coronavirus is brutalizing black America means understanding the health inequalities that predate it.
    For the last 25 years, David R. Williams, a professor of public health and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has been studying those inequalities. He was named one of the top 10 most-cited social scientists in the world from 1995 to 2005, and Reuters ranked him as one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” in 2014.
    At the center of Williams’s work is an attempt to grapple with some of the most difficult and sensitive questions in public: Why do black Americans have higher rates of chronic illness, disease, and mortality than white Americans? Why do those disparities remain even when you control for variables like income and education?
    Consider this: The life expectancy gap between a white high school dropout and a black high school dropout? 3½ years. Between a white college graduate and a black college graduate? 4.2 years.
    In this conversation, Williams doesn’t just give the clearest account I’ve heard of the coronavirus’s unequal toll. He also gives the clearest account of how America’s institutional and social structures have led to the most profound and consequential inequality of all.
    References:
    "Are Ghettos Good or Bad" by David Cutler and Edward Glaeser
    David Williams's Ted Talk on racism and health
    Book recommendations:
    American Apartheid by Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton
    The Highest Stage of White Supremacy by John Whitson Cell
    The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
    Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates


    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
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  • One of my favorite episodes of this show was my conversation with Jenny Odell, just under a year ago. Odell, a visual artist, writer, and Stanford lecturer, had just released her book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy and we had a fascinating conversation about the importance of maintenance work, the problem with ceaseless productivity, the forces vying for our attention, the comforts of nature, and so much more. 
    A lot has changed since then. Odell’s book became a sensation: it captured a cultural moment, made it onto Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2019 list and became, for many, a touchstone. And then, a global pandemic hit, radically altering the world in ways that made the core themes of Odell’s work more prescient, and more difficult. What happens when, instead of choosing to “do nothing,” doing nothing is forced upon you? What happens when all you have access to is nature? What happens when the work of maintenance becomes not just essential, but also dangerous?
    So I asked Odell back, for a very different conversation in a very different time. This isn’t a conversation, really, about fixing the world right now. It’s about living in it, and what that feels like. It’s about the role of art in this moment, why we undervalue the most important work in our society, how to have collective sympathy in a moment of fractured suffering, where to find beauty right now, the tensions of productivity, the melting of time, our reckoning with interdependence, and much more. 
    And, at the end, Odell offers literally my favorite book recommendation ever on this show. And no, it’s not for my book. 
    References:
    My previous conversation with Jenny Odell on the art of attention
    "The Myth of Self-Reliance" by Jenny Odell, The Paris Review
    "I tried to write an essay about productivity in quarantine. It took me a month to do it." by Constance Grady, Vox
    The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman
    Book recommendations:
    Give People Money by Annie Lowrey
    Lurking: How a Person Became a User by Joanne McNeil
    What It's Like to Be a Bird by David Allen Sibley


    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
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    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
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  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is the co-chair of the 95-member House Progressive Caucus. That means, in the aftermath of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, she leads the most influential bloc of progressive power in the federal government. And one thing that separates Jayapal from other elected officials: She’s actually willing to talk about it.
    I know some of you skip over episodes with politicians because they’re interviews, not conversations. This one is a conversation, and it’s broadly about two things.
    First, how do we prevent a Great Depression? In particular, Jayapal has a bill — the Paycheck Guarantee Act — that would replace payroll up to incomes of $100,000 for businesses slammed by Covid-19. And if it sounds wishful to you, recalibrate: It’s been endorsed by Nobel prize-winning economists, a former Federal Reserve chair, and more. And there’s even Republican support for the broad idea. 
    Second, how does the left wield power? Are Democrats getting rolled by Republicans on stimulus? Why doesn’t the House Progressive Caucus act more like the Freedom Caucus? What leverage do Democrats or progressives have, and why don’t they seem willing to use it in the way Republicans do? I wasn’t sure if Jayapal would actually answer my questions here — most politicians don’t — but she did, and the result is an unusually frank discussion about how the left does, and doesn’t, wield power in Congress.
    Book recommendations:
    The Book of Joy by Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama and Douglas Carlton Abrams
    The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen 
    The Rumi Collection by Kabir Helminski

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    The Ezra Klein Show is a finalist for a Webby! Make sure to vote at https://bit.ly/TEKS-webby
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices