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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.








Canning Spam: Getting Rid of Robocalls

More than 48 billion robocalls bombard American phones each year, taking the ‘phone’ out of ‘smartphone’ for many consumers. Yet while the problem has drastically worsened over the past several years, there may be hope on the horizon. Private, third party companies are giving consumers ways to divert or even combat robocalls. And the FCC has finally cleared up the regulatory confusion that contributed to phone carrier reluctance to directly address the problem themselves. We can hope that in...


The Automation Revolution is Upon Us

How will people respond to artificial intelligence taking their jobs? The rise of political radicalism on both Left and Right in the early twenty-first century is in part a reaction to rising income inequality and slower wage growth despite the increasing automation of jobs and gains in productive efficiency. We are in an ‘Engels pause,’ the lag between new technology that benefits whole economies and the moment those gains filter down to the families of displaced workers. Something similar...


Every Day I'm Side Hustling

The gig economy is transforming cities. Companies like Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and TaskRabbit are hiring thousands of workers on a contract basis rather than as formal employees, a legal distinction with broad implications for both workers and the future of the American economy. Matthew and Paul discuss the reasoning behind the contractor classification and whether it will be a net benefit to gig economy workers. They also talk about smart policy fixes—including expanded access to portable...


Free Speech Online: Unfriended

Over the past several years, conservative complaints about social media bias have grown. Some conservatives allege that platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter have tweaked their algorithms in ways that effectively downgrade conservative content or that they have “shadow-banned” conservative voices. In this episode, Paul and Will are joined by Zach Graves and Ryan Radia, both from the Lincoln Network, to discuss to what extent these allegations are legitimate and to weigh subsequent...


What Lawmakers Don't Understand About Tech Policy

Building Tomorrow isn’t in the business of encouraging government bloat, but in this episode we consider whether, sometimes, eliminating a government agency might be a penny wise, pound foolish decision. In particular, Paul and Will are joined by Zach Graves and Daniel Schuman as they discuss proposals to resurrect the Office for Technology Assessment, which had advised Congress on tech policy until getting the axe in the mid-1990s. Just as the Congressional Budget Office provides ostensibly...


SimCity 5: Exploring Charter Cities (and More!)

The theme that connects both of the interviews in today’s episode is the value of planning for the future. That can be as simple as thinking about the ways that driverless cars will affect the car insurance industry, as Ian Adams from TechFreedom discusses. Or it can be as big as Dr. Mark Lutter, Founder of the Center for Innovative Governance Research, advocating for charter cities, a place where the best urban ideas can be implemented from the outset rather than waiting for something to go...


Destination Mars

This week’s interview is with Robert Zubrin, astronautics engineer and President of the Mars Society, who also introduced Elon Musk to Jim Cantrell at the founding of SpaceX. Dr. Zubrin was in Washington, DC at the Lincoln Network’s “Reboot American Innovation” conference to contrast the successes of the private sector space industry over the past few years with the excess and stagnation of NASA’s human flight program over the past few decades. At the current rate of innovation, he believes...


Facial Recognition or Faceless Man?

Facial recognition software will transform our lives for good or for ill. On the one hand, it will be used to make retail transactions more seamless, to replace keyed entry into houses and cars, and to provide other benefits that we can’t yet even imagine. However, it could also be used for corporate and governmental surveillance in ways that undermine civil liberties and reduce privacy. Caleb Watney joins Matthew and Paul to discuss the potential promise and peril of facial recognition...


Devin Nunes Sues a Fictional Cow, His Mom, and Liz Mair

Devin Nunes is a US Congressman and former dairy farmer from California. Imagine his surprise when a member of his cow herd started a twitter account that focused on Nunes’s failings as a politician. That account was quickly joined by several other parody accounts, including one purporting to be his mother. Nunes responded by filing multiple lawsuits against the offending accounts, against Twitter, and against lobbyist Liz Mair, claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Yet the...


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...