Episode 5: Silicon Valley and Beyond

What we can learn from Silicon Valley’s history as we envision more just technologies for the future?

How did Silicon Valley become such a historically and globally significant hub of technological innovation? What—and who—gets left out of the stories people tell about Silicon Valley? What are the limits of technology, and how can we create more equitable technologies for the future?



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View a list of discussion questions related to this episode here.


Our Guests

  • Meredith Broussard is a data journalist, an associate professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University, and author of Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World (MIT Press, 2018).
  • Margaret O’Mara is the Howard & Frances Keller Endowed Professor of History at the University of Washington, a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times, and author of The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America (Penguin Press, 2019), among other works.
  • Annie Galvin, this season’s host, is the associate editor at Public Books and a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Virginia, and her academic and public writing has focused on contemporary global fiction, visual culture, gender and sexuality, and popular music.

Episode notes

A historian and a data journalist explore the history and influence of Silicon Valley: how it came to be such an ascendent hub of technological innovation, and the limits of what the technologies produced there can do. Meredith and Margaret consider what is distinctly American about the history of Silicon Valley, how popular myths about Silicon Valley square up with reality, and why it’s important for people to recognize that technology cannot solve all human problems.


View a transcript of the episode here.


Mentioned in this episode

Further reading and Viewing

Meredith recommends:

Margaret recommends:

This episode was produced by Annie Galvin and Jess Engebretson and is licensed under a Creative Commons-Attribution License (CC-BY 4.0). icon