Rob Reid | After On (Episode 649)

Rob Reid (@Rob_Reid) is a tech entrepreneur (Listen.com, Rhapsody), early-stage tech investor, and author of After On: A Novel of Silicon Valley.

“The passage of time makes wizards of us all.” -Rob Reid

The Cheat Sheet:

  • How Rob Reid excelled in two vastly different fields: as a tech entrepreneur and a sci-fi author.
  • How society is being reshaped by the tech curve.
  • Futurisms like AI and synthetic biology.
  • A great mindset for approaching interactions with others that maximizes value and learning.
  • How to find your “true north.”
  • And so much more…

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Technology is developing at an ever-accelerating pace and our engagement with it is literally rewiring our brains. By better understanding this inter-relationship we can make ourselves more effective both in life and at work.

Listen.com founder Rob Reid joins us to talk about his duality as a tech entrepreneur and science fiction author — most recently of After On: A Novel of Silicon Valley, the tale of a diabolical social media company that attains consciousness. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

Please Scroll down for Full Show Notes and Featured Resources!

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More About This Show

As an orphan born into New York City foster care who became a foreign exchange student in Cairo with a lifelong love for the Arabic language, Rob Reid’s background is somewhat atypical. But that’s okay, because he’s managed to have a pretty atypical adulthood, too. As the founder of Listen.com (which spawned Rhapsody, the model for many of the streaming services we take for granted today) and author of four books — including New York Times Bestseller Year Zero: A Novel and, most recently, After On: A Novel of Silicon Valley, Rob doesn’t sit idle for long.

“What would be more boring than a life that was just one linear path?” asks Rob.

Beginning “precisely nine seconds” in the future from “whenever you start reading the book,” After On is “a tale of an imaginary startup here in San Francisco,” says Rob. “It’s a rather diabolical social media company…called Phluttr…it basically embodies everything that’s wrong with social media, dialed up by about twenty percent. So let’s say it’s in the realm of satire, but definitely not farce. This’ll sound like a spoiler — it’s not, because you’ll see it literally coming hundreds of pages off. Eventually, Phluttr wakes up — attains consciousness. Rather than going all Skynet and trying to kill us all, she takes on her character and self-identifies as female for reasons that are deep in the book.

“She basically becomes a hyper-intelligent, superpowered, fourteen-year-old brat. A certain amount of hilarity ensues from that. There are a lot of aspects of the book that are very, very playful. But it also takes very deep and serious looks at a lot of very significant risks that I think we face as a species. There’s a few issues that I think we really need to think hard about and even resolve in the coming…not years, but in the coming decades if we’re going to make it through this century. One of them is the genuine actual risks that artificial superintelligence could pose. And some of the smartest people in our society, like Elon Musk and Bill Gates, have opined that this is something…we need to be careful about and think about. That’s one of the issues.

“Another one is synthetic biology, which is bursting with promise and one of the most exciting things that’s happening right now — but there are also potentially terrifying downsides to what we might start doing with synthetic biology in the quite near future. It’s another theme. But the third one that I want to come back to is this nihilistic terrorism.”

These days, when a nihilistic terrorist who embraces death and seeks to take as many other people with them to the afterlife as possible, they’re limited by how much damage their weapon of choice can inflict. It stands to reason that a massacre brought about by someone with a knife will result in a significantly lower body count than a massacre brought about by someone with a machine gun. Or a bomb.

But synthetic biology in the wrong hands could potentially be a force multiplier of truly devastating effect. But don’t take this as just wild speculation by a magnificently brilliant science fiction author; in the course of researching this book, Rob has interviewed academic experts in neuroscience and consciousness who know a thing or two about where current trends in research are leading us. Make sure to check out Rob’s companion podcast that dives into the science, tech, and social issues explored in the book: The After On Podcast.

Also check out Rob’s contribution to this week’s Minisode Monday: Why You Should Record Your Conversations with Strangers.

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm to learn more about Rob’s visit to pre-Gulf War Iraq, why quantum computing is a fascinating can of worms, how a science fiction author knows what questions to ask an academic source in the course of research to get engaging answers, how Listen.com happened, the music industry’s big mistake in the early days of the Internet, the industries that are currently repeating this mistake, the real possibilities and dangers of synthetic biology, why Rob still remains “pathologically optimistic” about technology, and lots more.

THANKS, ROB REID!

If you enjoyed this session with Rob Reid, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Rob Reid at Twitter!

Click here to let Jordan know about your number one takeaway from this episode!

Resources from This Episode:

Sponsored By:

SmartMouth is the only activated oral rinse clinically proven to eliminate existing bad breath and prevent it from returning for a full twelve hours per rinse. Visit SmartMouth.com to get an in-depth, scientific analysis of how SmartMouth is able to deliver such incredible results!

With Business Platinum from American Express, it's not about where you are, it's about where you want to take your business next. Explore the Power of The Business Platinum Card here!

Now save a whopping 50% on new webhosting packages here with HostGator by using coupon code CHARM!

Looking to up your public speaking chops? Email [email protected] and tell him why you really need to go to Heroic Public Speaking Live 2017 with Michael and Amy Port from September 24th-26th in Philadelphia — there might just be a free ticket for you!

Free yourself from typing notes, reports, and documents by going with the transcriptionists we trust here at AoC: TranscriptionOutsourcing.net -- 99% or higher accuracy guaranteed!

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Jordan Harbinger - author of 924 posts on The Art of Charm

Jordan Harbinger has spent several years abroad in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and speaks several languages. He has also worked for various governments and NGOs overseas, traveled through war zones, and been kidnapped -- twice. He’ll tell you the only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into (and out of) just about any type of situation. Here at The Art of Charm, Jordan shares that experience, and the system borne as a result, with students and clients.

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