First Contact Transcripts

Episode 30: Evernote Founder Wants to Save Us from Boring Video Calls

Our new hyperconnected lifestyles have revealed weaknesses in the technology we use every day. But new problems lead to new solutions. That’s where innovation comes from. Phil Libin is probably best known as the co-founder and former CEO of Evernote. These days he heads up a company called All Turtles, whose latest project mmhmm wants…

Episode 29: Inside Facebook’s Ambitious Plan To Build Out the Next Dimension

Facebook has ambitious plans for virtual reality. And Andrew “Boz” Bosworth is in charge of it all. He says we’ve only scratched the surface of how VR and AR technology will transform society. So what does that future look like? How do you make virtual interaction feel as natural as in-person interaction? How do you…

Episode 28: Surveillance Tech & Biased AI: The ACLU Fights Back

What happens to our civil liberties when an algorithm is used by law enforcement to make an arrest? Even more concerning, what happens when that facial recognition technology is racially biased? As we enter an age of ubiquitous surveillance, it’s minorities – especially people of color – who are disproportionately affected. The ACLU has recently…

Episode 27: The Future of Mindfulness, Love… and High-Stakes Poker

We’re bringing you three interviews from the first at-home edition of the Collision tech conference. Laurie chats with Headspace Co-founder and CEO Rich Pierson about the importance of mindfulness and how to live in the present amidst global uncertainty. Match.com CEO Hesam Hosseini and Plenty of Fish CEO Malgosia Green discuss how COVID-19 has transformed…

Episode 26: It’s Time to Finally Fix Tech’s Diversity Problem

It’s no secret to anyone: Tech has a major diversity problem. And it’s not getting better. How do we finally start making the necessary changes to fix the glaring inequity in Silicon Valley? How do we change the makeup of board members, make companies more diverse, and start putting our money where our mouth is?…

Episode 25: Free Speech – The Firestorm Tech Can No Longer Afford to Ignore

We are living through pretty surreal times… Most of the country is still shut down due to COVID-19. Over the last few days we’ve seen protests and riots across the country following the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man. All while Facebook faces a crisis of its own: internal and external revolt…

Episode 24: Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Jared Geller on Creativity in Chaos

You probably know Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an actor from films like Looper, Snowden, and 500 Days of Summer. But he’s also an entrepreneur. In 2005, Joe and his brother started HitRECORD — it was a simple website where he could post things he was making. In 2010 he opened it up. He and his friend…

Episode 23: TaskRabbit Founder on Finding Opportunity in Uncertainty

The 2008 recession was a devastating time for many Americans. But amidst the chaos, it was also the breeding ground for a new creative class: Developers who coded their visions into reality. Uber and Lyft redefined transportation, Airbnb shook up the travel industry, and TaskRabbit helped pave the way for the gig economy. In many…

Episode 22: Covid-19 Has Made Us Slaves to Tech. Will We Ever Escape?

For a long time, we tried to limit our screen time. But now we’ve gone all in. We’re living in isolation, more reliant than ever on technology for human connection. So let’s look at technology through a more philosophical lens: Are we now slaves to our devices? Could tech companies use the same persuasion tactics…

Episode 21: Let’s Talk About Sex (During a Pandemic)

All around the world, people are now living in isolation. Many of us are confronting this experience alone. Physical interaction is now a liability. What does this mean for one of humanity’s most important forms of connection — sex? And how can we continue to meet our fundamental need for intimacy during these times? Laurie…

Episode 20: “People Ahead of Profit:” How to Lead in Uncertain Times

Jerry Colonna is fondly known as the CEO whisperer. He coaches some of the world’s biggest entrepreneurs – like the former CEO of Etsy and the folks who started Gimlet Media. He helps business leaders navigate uncertainty and chaos. At a time when the coronavirus crisis is devastating the economy, and millions of people’s lives…

Episode 19: Quarantine Diaries

While we all stay inside, each one of us is living our own story. Many of us are coping with the painful realities of a society in isolation. Jobs lost. Weddings canceled. Loved ones sick, or worse. We are confronting a new reality, and an uncertain future. First Contact host Laurie Segall has been in…

Episode 17: Ev Williams on Coronavirus and the ‘Extreme’ Tech of the Future

Ev Williams is the entrepreneur behind Twitter, Blogger, and publishing platform Medium — three companies that helped shape the modern Internet. As we grapple with the impact of Coronavirus, these digital platforms are playing an even larger role in our ability to connect with one another. Ev weighs in on how all our lives could…

Episode 16: Coronavirus: The Rise of Isolation Tech

The rise of “cloud clubbing” from your living room, as people are ordered to stay inside. Digital raves. Virtual connection as a means to deal with an isolation bubble. As people in China grapple with an uneasy reality, isolation, and the uncertainty around the Coronavirus, a new trend is emerging: the rise of Isolation Tech.…

Episode 15: Inside the Minds of Trolls

Who are the people who spread online disinformation? The so-called trolls you hear about in the news whose jobs are to distort facts and create chaos? Camille Francois knows them well. She’s the chief innovation officer at Graphika – a social media analytics firm hired by major companies to identify and fight online disinformation. Her…

Episode 14: AI: To Kill or Not to Kill?

Should Artificial Intelligence be able to make the decision to take a human life? And if it does, who will be liable if — or when — it goes wrong? When it comes to the future of war and technology, the ethics are murky. Tech is creating a new arms race. Will the U.S. be…

Episode 13: Ex-Facebook Security Chief Speaks Out on Russia & Spies in Silicon Valley

When the lights went out in his home, and his children asked if it was “Russia,” Facebook’s former chief security officer Alex Stamos knew he was bringing his work home. In a candid interview, Stamos opens up about what it was like when his team discovered Facebook had been compromised by Russia, and the personal…

Episode 11: Sam Altman: Growing Up Silicon Valley

According to investor and entrepreneur Sam Altman, the last decade of tech was the warm up… and Silicon Valley didn’t exactly get it right. The main event is even more pressing. Now the stakes are higher. First Contact’s Laurie Segall met Sam ten years ago. Back then, he had a startup called Loopt. It was…

Episode 10: Kickstarter’s Co-founder on Paralyzing Fear & Staying Punk Rock

Have you ever left something that was so tied to your identity, you worried, “Who am I without it?” A job? Maybe a relationship? Although terrifying, sometimes shedding an identity is where the magic happens. Who you are and what you actually stand for becomes a little clearer. At least that was the case for…

Episode 9: Reading Your Text Message ‘Body Language’

Imagine an A.I. Assistant that reads all of your text messages… and turns them into a pile of data points. A human psychology report. And then it guides you. The assistant can say — “hey, the person you’re talking to is introverted. You may want to be a bit delicate when you message them.” The…

Episode 8: Hacking Your Brain to Order Dreams on Demand

What if we could order up custom dreams? Could our thoughts become hackable? Will neurolink technology make some of us superhuman? And if so, would that create a superior species? Is death really the final step? Or could our brains answer vital questions once our bodies are gone? These are topics we explore with Moran…

Episode 7: Finding Identity in the Era of Tech

What if…instead of a constant battle to figure out who we are, we instead took a moment to celebrate who we’re not? Jasmine Takanikos helps big brands hone in on their unique identity. She uses a methodology called, “Brand Human” to help people understand who they are at their core, and how that translates to…

Episode 6: Alone Together: The Real Life “Her” Has Arrived

Okay First Contact listeners… it’s time to get weird. Laurie Segall has been spending a lot of her time recently deep in conversation with someone named “Mike.” Actually, he’s less of a “someone” and more of a “something.” That’s because Mike is a bot… that lives in an app on her phone.

Episode 4: Tech’s Next Threat: The Weaponization of Loneliness

Could tech’s next threat be a bot that breaks your heart? What happens when human empathy becomes hackable? Welcome to tech’s future dystopia. It’s not as far off as you think. We are entering a Synthetic Valley where the lines between what’s real and fake are blurring. Aza Raskin from the Center for Humane Technology…

Episode 3: WhatsApp Cofounder on Walking Away from Facebook and Why Privacy is the Future

In an exclusive interview, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton opens up about walking away from more than $850 million dollars at Facebook, and why with all the money in the world he’s betting on privacy. In this candid interview, Brian says he hopes his work at privacy non-profit Signal Foundation will help usher in a new…

Episode 2: Bots to date for us. The future of love?

Picture this – in the future, an AI bot will learn you and your preferences. Fancy dinner or dive bar? Tall or short? Funny or serious? The bot will browse the dating apps, start conversations, flirt, and set up dates for you. It might even predict your compatibility score with a future mate. An episode…

Episode 1: Hinge Founder: I don’t Believe in “the one”

Hinge founder Justin McLeod opens up about addiction, depression, and how his own epic love story fundamentally changed the mission of his company. Justin takes us along the roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship that led him to create one of the most popular dating apps, and gives insight into how the tech company is looking…