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Building Tomorrow

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Building Tomorrow explores the ways technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are creating a freer, wealthier, and more peaceful world.

Building Tomorrow explores the ways technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are creating a freer, wealthier, and more peaceful world.
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Building Tomorrow explores the ways technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are creating a freer, wealthier, and more peaceful world.








Why is Rent so Damn High?

If you’ve ever lived in a city like NYC or San Francisco you’re all too familiar with the incredible cost of housing. A studio apartment might cost as much to rent as a single family home out in the suburbs or a smaller town. While some of that additional cost is just the price we pay for living in desirable locations with abundant job opportunities, a surprising amount of that cost is entirely unnecessary. Bad regulatory policies are the cornerstone of the crisis of affordable housing in...


Debunking Overpopulation

One of the things that folks in the 22nd century will find bizarre about their ancestors in the early 21st century will be that we were arguing about immigration when a global depopulation crisis loomed on the horizon. Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson argue that by the middle of this century the world population will start to decline as the final major developing nations have their birth-rates fall below the replacement rate of 2. 1 per woman. Although various governments have tried to...


On Innovation: Don't Ask for Permission

Tech companies are often accused of acting without first thinking through all the ramifications of what they’re doing on the principle that it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Adam Thierer joins the show to talk about a good habit, something he calls evasive entrepreneurialism. If innovators always waited for regulatory approval first, it would delay consumer access to transformative and even life-saving tech. Permissionless innovation in the relatively regulatory-free internet...


The First Livestreamed Mass Shooting

The fact of the Christchurch shooting is, unfortunately, unsurprising given the global rise of political extremism and ethno-nationalism. But it anticipates the future in that it was the first ever livestreamed mass shooting; given that mass shooters are hungry for attention, it’s almost certain to become a trend. But that raises questions about the complicity of social media in livestreamed atrocities. Matthew, Paul, and guest Caleb Watney discuss first of all whether there are...


From SpaceX to Vector: Jim Cantrell and the Private Space Industry

Jim Cantrell’s career in the space industry spans thirty years and multiple countries, from NASA to the French and Russian space agencies. Now, after co-founding SpaceX with Elon Musk, Cantrell is the CEO of Vector, a micro-satellite launching company. The private sector space industry is booming; cheap, small satellites will transform the global economy and lead to fascinating knock-on innovation. At the same time, making it easier to put stuff up in space raises the specter of...


Must Love Dogs...and Dog Tech

Dog ownership is on the rise around the world, correlating to the decline in age of marriage and delays in childbearing. Given the slowing (and eventual reversal) of the global population birth rate, that means pets will demand an growing share of personal income, emotional investment, and technological innovation. Will and Paul are joined by Natalie Dowzicky (flatmate of the fabulous Corgi pup Pippa, who is on the list of Capitol Hill pooches to watch) to discuss these trends, various...


A Libertarian Approach to the Green New Deal

Join Paul, Joe Verruni, and Peter Van Doren as they discuss why the Green New Deal is neither particularly “green,” all that “new,” nor all that great of a “deal. ” However, there is a libertarian response to the Green New Deal that doesn’t just consist of “bah humbug. ” There are market-based solutions that can more effectively and sustainably address carbon emissions and other environmental pollution. To illustrate that point, the hosts discuss fascinating new applications of energy...


Scooters: Sidewalk Scourge or Transportation Transformation?

If you live in a city, your relationship with the new scooter startups like Lime and Bird probably ranges somewhere between frustration at the sidewalk clutter or enthusiastic adoption for when you need to reach the Metro stop nearest your apartment. In this episode, Paul and Will talk with Jennifer Skees about whether scooters are a true transformational transportation technology or if they are overhyped. Are scooters a good disruptive technology? What is the ‘last mile’ problem in cities?...


How Netflix & Spotify Changed Consumer Culture

As the cultural economy (music, movies, television, and books) digitized around the turn of the 21st century, many critics worried about severe negative consequences, including declining creative output because of piracy and decreased aesthetic quality. Joel Waldfogel joins Paul and Aaron to discuss why those fears were wrong. Digitization has actually stimulated a renaissance in the cultural economy as both the number and perceived aesthetic quality of film, television, and books have...


Swiping Right For Love

Today, more than a third of long-term relationships are started through online dating apps like Tinder and eHarmony. (And the percentage is even higher for LGBQT communities. ) During the early years of online dating, critics suggested that the apps would lead to either sexual hedonism or the formation of shallow, unstable long-term relationships. Well, some of the first major longitudinal studies are finally out and we can see how those concerns panned out. Join us as we discuss the vast...


How Online Games Shape Our Real Lives

Every new entertainment medium—from the 17th century novel to 21st century video games—has had its share of scolds who panic about the social implications. Those moral panics are always misguided, but entertainment can indeed shape its consumers. This week, Aaron, Paul, and Will debate the ways that video games, by engaging players with compelling narratives and giving them a feeling of player agency, can change peoples’ beliefs and values. Along the way, they discuss what features would...


Wearable Tech: Health Care of the Future

Wearable tech includes everything from wearable thermometers to robotic exoskeletons. It’s a hot investment area for Silicon Valley venture capital funds. But most startups in the wearable industry are very careful to avoid claiming that they are producing “medical devices. ” Yet the divide between these wearables and medical devices seems incredibly arbitrary. After all, how is a traditional thermometer that you place under your tongue a medical device, yet a patch that you place on your...


Cryptocurrency vs. Censorship

Cryptocurrency advocates often praise its decentralized nature, which promises to strip out intermediaries that both slow and function as a tax on private exchanges of goods and services. But even the most decentralized cryptocurrency still needs go-betweens in order to function for a mass consumer audience. Simply put, most consumers are willing to give a little on transparency and privacy in order to get more convenience and ease of access. Even so, cryptocurrency should provide...


Instagram is the New Fireside Chat

Politicians want their constituents to feel a sense of personal connection to them. Mass media makes those perceptions of intimacy and authenticity possible on a large scale, like FDR’s radio fireside chats, Ronald Reagan’s TV appearances, and Donald Trump’s tweets. But we are on the cusp of the political adoption of a new media form; it’s the age of livestreaming as an exercise in political branding, whether it’s Elizabeth Warren awkwardly taking a swig of beer, Beto O’Rourke carving a...


New Year, New Congress, New Tech

After the “blue wave” that propelled Democrats to a majority in the US House of Representatives, Paul and Matthew invited tech policy expert Will Rinehart to join them as they suss out the implications for new legislation of emerging tech. While a split Congress often struggles to find bi-partisan agreement on major policy initiatives, there is a growing sense of unease in Congress in regards to internet privacy and social media monopolization. Unfortunately, sometimes the cure can be as bad...


Ranked Choice Voting, A Better Way to Vote?

Tired of voting for a political candidate you don’t particularly like who represents a major political party you don’t particularly like so that another candidate who you dislike a little bit more won’t win office? If so, then ranked choice voting might be the electoral reform for you. Ranked choice voting is a system in which voters don’t just vote for a single candidate for each listed office on their ballot. Instead, they rank all of the candidates running for that seat, 1-2-3 and so on....


Has Your Phone Hacked Your Brain?

If you have kids, you know how alluring smartphones and social media can be for a generation raised with (and, at times, seemingly by) the technology. But researchers are starting to worry that engagement with this technology is rewiring peoples’ brains by design. Tech companies have invented mechanisms like the “infinite scroll” and notification systems which trigger chemical releases in the brain, habituating users. But as concerns about these effects grows, companies have responded with...


Flying Taxis: Cleared for Takeoff?

Flying car prototypes are being tested right now, but they exist in a strange legal limbo in the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration has strict rules for the altitudes at which aircraft of various sizes as well as drones are allowed to fly at, but a new category of Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft needs a defined airspace before the technology can be rolled out for a mass consumer audience. Brent Skorup, a specialist in tech and communication policy at the Mercatus...


Is Amazon HQ2 Worth it?

If you live in NYC, Washington DC, or Nashville, TN, Amazon is coming to town. But unlike Santa Claus, Amazon’s new headquarters locations are arriving on a raft of subsidies instead of a sleigh. State and local governments offered billions of dollars in tax rebates and cash grants in order to woo the company. If everything goes according to plan, Amazon HQ2 might generate a budget surplus for DC and NYC, but, as many cities that have courted companies through special tax breaks have found...


Place Your Political Bets

We return to part two of our interview with John Aristotle Phillips, who is the founder of the political prediction market PredictIt. Instead of trading corporate stocks or pork bellies, PredictIt allows you to trade in political futures. Put your own money on the line when it comes to who will win an election or the next time a politician will say something stupid on social media. While it’s partly entertainment, prediction markets also serve an important social function since they have a...