In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, New Yorker writer Anna Wiener left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble—a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on domination, glory, and (of course) progress. Drawing from her book Uncanny Valley, Wiener deftly charts the tech industry’s shift from self-appointed world savior to democracy-endangering liability, alongside a personal narrative of aspiration, ambivalence, and disillusionment.
In conversation with author and journalist Kristi Coulter, Wiener recalls her arrival to Silicon Valley amidst a massive cultural shift as the tech industry rapidly transformed into a locus of wealth and power rivaling Wall Street. She muses on the company ski vacations and in-office speakeasies, boyish camaraderie and ride-or-die corporate fealty which revealed a new image of Silicon Valley—one of a region in far over its head, enriching itself at the expense of the idyllic future it claimed to be building. Wiener brings us a rare first-person glimpse into high-flying, reckless startup culture at a time of unchecked ambition, unregulated surveillance, wild fortune, and accelerating political power. Listen in as Wiener and Coulter present a cautionary tale and a revelatory interrogation of a world reckoning with consequences its unwitting designers are only beginning to understand.