Azeem Azhar's Exponential View

HBR Presents / Azeem Azhar

How will the future unfold? What is the impact of technology on business & society? As technology reorders the world in which live, who will be the winners and who will be the losers? Join Azeem Azhar, curator of the Exponential View newsletter, in deep conversation with the world's leading thinkers and practitioners exploring these and other important questions.

The views expressed on this podcast are those of its hosts, guests, and callers, and not those of Harvard Business Review.

Season 2 Intro: When Technology Meets Political Future
Trailer 5 min 28 sec

All Episodes

Murray Shanahan, professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College London and a senior research scientist at DeepMind, joins Azeem Azhar to discuss AI: where developments have exceeded expectations, where they have fallen short, and what the next steps are towards an artificial general intelligence.

Dec 1

48 min 2 sec

Former Greek Finance Minister, economist, and bestselling author Yanis Varoufakis joins Azeem Azhar to discuss his speculative novel Another Now. The book isn’t pure fiction; it’s an optimistic vision of what our society could yet become -- a world where mass organization, technological progress, and an overhaul of companies and markets have made society more equitable.

Nov 24

52 min 33 sec

Investors Nathan Benaich and Ian Hogarth co-author the influential, annual “State of AI” report. They join Azeem Azhar to discuss breakout developments in disparate fields, from defense to medical biology. And they offer their take on the flood of new investments into AI and how we can best keep the technology safe for humanity.

Nov 17

46 min 29 sec

Renewable energy is the future of our power systems, but relying on solar, wind, etc. will require a more reliable and resilient grid. Energy storage will be essential, and Malta Inc.’s molten-salt system is one of the most innovative and promising technologies in the field. CEO Ramya Swaminathan joins Azeem Azhar to discuss why energy storage is so crucial to fighting climate change, how it could affect the economics of energy, and why the electric grid of the future will be more technologically diverse and complex than today’s.

Nov 10

50 min 1 sec

Hopin is one of the fastest-growing startups in history. The virtual events company had six employees in February 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. A year and a half later, it employs more than eight hundred and is valued at almost $8 billion. Founder and CEO Johnny Boufarhat joins Azeem Azhar to discuss seizing the opportunity the pandemic presented, learning to lead at one of the fastest-growing startups in history, and why he dreams of a future in which a founder’s location is no impediment to success.

Nov 3

25 min 10 sec

Governments and companies have committed to net-zero emissions by 2050, but it’s not clear how they plan to get there – or how much it will cost. Michele Della Vigna, who runs the Carbonomics research program at Goldman Sachs, has dug into the economics behind a transition to net-zero emissions. On the eve of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), he and Azeem Azhar discuss how capital markets, new technology, and government coordination could combine to accelerate the transition to a greener economy.

Oct 27

45 min 33 sec

Ford has been making cars for 118 years -- nearly all of them with internal combustion engines. It now faces the biggest challenge in its history. Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer, joins Azeem Azhar to discuss electrification, mobility, and the future of one of the titans of the industrial age.

Oct 20

50 min 18 sec

Fighting the climate crisis requires investment, innovation, and on-the-ground know-how. Dawn Lippert works at the intersection of all three. She’s the founder and CEO of Elemental Excelerator, a non-profit incubator that helps climate-focused startups deploy and scale their technologies. She joins Azeem Azhar to discuss how innovative climate tech companies can make it to market, and why workers at Silicon Valley’s biggest companies are flocking to fight climate change.

Oct 13

38 min 13 sec

Google, Facebook, Apple, and Uber are just some of the enormous companies that derive part of their value from network effects: the more users they have, the more value they provide. Serial entrepreneur and early-stage investor James Currier is one of the world’s foremost experts on networks, and on the companies that use them best. He joins Azeem Azhar to discuss how companies with network effects dominate markets, and why their influence will likely continue to grow.

Oct 6

51 min 35 sec

Kim Stanley Robinson, the legendary science-fiction novelist, has a private utopian hope: “to dodge a mass extinction event.” He joins Azeem Azhar to explore his recent novel, The Ministry For the Future, and what it would take for institutions, individuals, and emerging technologies to save millions of lives.

Jul 7

1 hr 1 min

Facebook serves 34 percent of the world’s population and decides who to block and what to censor. How should governments regulate this startling power? Nick Clegg, the UK’s former deputy prime minister and now vice president of Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook, joins Azeem Azhar to explore how governments might reassert control in the exponential age.

Jun 30

44 min 37 sec

Visa processes more than 500 million transactions every day. How is the world’s largest digital payment platform adapting to new technologies and fresh competition? Charlotte Hogg, executive vice president and CEO of its European operations, joins Azeem Azhar to explore the evolving ecosystem of digital payments.

Jun 23

36 min 57 sec

From predictive policing to automated credit scoring, algorithms applied on a massive scale, gone unchecked, represent a serious threat to our society. Dr. Rumman Chowdhury, director of Machine Learning Ethics, Transparency and Accountability at Twitter, joins Azeem Azhar to explore how businesses can practice responsible AI to minimize unintended bias and the risk of harm.

Jun 16

49 min 15 sec

AI hackers are coming, and it’s not just our computer networks at risk – our laws and regulations are also vulnerable. Bruce Schneier, internationally renowned security technologist and fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, joins Azeem Azhar to explore how humans have always exploited loopholes in rule-based systems, and how that will change as AIs become more powerful.

Jun 9

37 min 47 sec

Could we have a financial industry without banks or brokers? That’s the vision of decentralized finance – or DeFi – in which financial products are built from tamper-proof digital smart contracts interacting with blockchains. Sergey Nazarov, co-founder of Chainlink, joins Azeem Azhar to explore the promise of this emerging sector to bring greater transparency, control, and yield for both customers and businesses.

Jun 2

48 min 56 sec

AI can offer a new type of competitive advantage, but entrepreneurs need to know what it is and how to unlock it. Ash Fontana, author of The AI First Company and managing director at Zetta Venture Partners – a firm that exclusively invests in early-stage AI startups, joins Azeem Azhar to explore the risks and rewards of applying AI to business problems.

May 26

59 min 38 sec

Using forests to offset a company’s carbon emissions has been dismissed as “greenwashing.” But Diego Saez Gil argues that a verifiable and transparent global market in carbon credits is a vital tool to mitigate climate change. In part 2 of their discussion, he joins Azeem Azhar to explore how his company, Pachama, uses technology to connect farmers and ecologists with climate-conscious corporations in an effort to evolve the global carbon marketplace.

May 20

33 min 12 sec

How do we build a market for carbon offsets that is both trustworthy and effective? Diego Saez Gil, co-founder and CEO of Pachama, believes he has the answer. In part 1 of the conversation, Diego joins Azeem Azhar to explore how AI, satellites, and LiDAR can be leveraged to verify the conservation efforts of farmers, NGOs, and governments and help lay the foundation for sustainable work against climate change.

May 19

34 min 54 sec

Kenneth Cukier, senior editor at the Economist, and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at the University of Oxford, argue that because AI systems have no causal model of the world, they lack the human capacity for imagination and decision-making. Azeem Azhar explores their contention that we should not rely on AI to provide solutions to our problems. Rather we should systematically challenge how we frame our problems in order to produce breakthrough insights and innovations — then use AI to help enact those solutions.

May 12

48 min 34 sec

In less than a decade France has gone from tech backwater to the startup engine of the EU. It recently celebrated its 12th company to achieve a $1 billion valuation and is well on the way to President Macron’s goal of “25 unicorns by 2025.” Kat Borlongan, director of La French Tech, joins Azeem Azhar to explore how her government taskforce has been working to effectively drive growth in the French startup scene.

May 5

44 min 11 sec

Turning a corporate climate pledge into reality is a complex endeavor. Watershed, a software startup co-founded by Christian Anderson, is committed to using data to cut corporate emissions fast. In conversation with Azeem Azhar, Christian shares the challenges of putting this dream into practice.

Apr 28

49 min 3 sec

Livestock is responsible for 15 percent of global greenhouse emissions. Could meat grown in labs offer a sustainable – and palatable – future? Didier Toubia, CEO and co-founder of cultured meat start-up Aleph Farms, joins Azeem Azhar to explore the biotech, ethics, and economics of making beef without cows.

Apr 21

38 min 55 sec

AI is not just code and algorithms. It’s an industry built on a global network of resource extraction, human labor, and data collection. Kate Crawford, senior principal researcher at Microsoft Research and research professor of communication and science and technology studies at USC Annenberg, joins Azeem Azhar to explore the far-reaching impacts of AI and to consider the urgent case for proper governance and regulation of the industry.

Apr 14

1 hr 4 min

IonQ is the first company solely focused on quantum computing to go public, with its quantum computers accessible via the cloud today. The company’s co-founder/chief scientist Chris Monroe and president/CEO Peter Chapman join Azeem Azhar to explore how they turned cutting-edge research into a scalable product. They also discuss the engineering challenges that remain before quantum systems not only surpass the fastest supercomputers, but also become widely available.

Apr 7

54 min 29 sec

Meltem Demirors, Chief Strategy Officer at CoinShares, joins Azeem Azhar to explore the potential and politics of cryptocurrencies: from the ideological origins of Bitcoin to the new wave of decentralized financial products that could disrupt traditional finance.

Mar 31

50 min 24 sec

Atlassian, the enterprise software innovator, is helping to drive disruption across the world of work. Co-founder and co-CEO Scott Farquhar joins Azeem Azhar to explain how, during a global pandemic, they nearly doubled the size of their workforce, why the workplace will never be the same after Covid-19, and what the implications are for companies and employees who increasingly operate remotely, asynchronously, and in flatter hierarchies.

Mar 24

49 min 47 sec

Cade Metz, technology correspondent at The New York Times, joins Azeem Azhar to discuss his new book Genius Makers. In it, he tells the story of the pioneers who brought AI out of academic labs, sparking a Big Tech arms race and transforming our everyday lives.

Mar 17

43 min 57 sec

What are universities for? Are they an elite pipeline for elite jobs, or can they meet the needs of societies transforming amid technological advances? Azeem Azhar explores the role of higher education in research, innovation, and progress with Geraint Rees, Dean of Faculty of Life Sciences at University College London and a leader of their AI strategy. 

Mar 10

40 min 42 sec

Chris Urmson, co-founder and CEO of the self-driving technology startup Aurora, joins Azeem Azhar to explore the state-of-play of self-driving technology, the criticisms the tech must address, and the huge challenges to be overcome before we trust a computer to drive our kids to school.

Mar 3

47 min 16 sec

Social networks polarize communities and spread misinformation. Professor Sinan Aral, director of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy and author of The Hype Machine, joins Azeem Azhar to explore what makes these networks so powerful and how we can engineer our way to a healthier online ecosystem.

Feb 24

51 min 28 sec

Could deep tech bring about an age of abundance? Matt Ocko, co-founder and managing partner of Data Collective Venture Capital, joins Azeem Azhar to explore the art of investing in startups that aim to transform entire industries with radically cheaper, cleaner products.

Feb 17

43 min 54 sec

From an insurance giant to an incubator of cutting-edge tech companies, Ping An’s evolution is impressive and unique. Chief Innovation Officer Jonathan Larsen joins Azeem Azhar to explore how the China-based holding conglomerate has managed such agility at immense scale.

Feb 10

51 min 37 sec

“Quantum computing is to conventional computing what a warp drive is to a bicycle,” says Jeremy O’Brien, CEO of PsiQuantum. He joins Azeem Azhar to explore the exponential advantage quantum computing will bring to problems across science and industry, and how he’s using photonics to build the first productive quantum computer.

Feb 3

50 min 59 sec

Regina Dugan, CEO of new biomedical non-profit Wellcome Leap and former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the U.S., joins Azeem Azhar to explore how she approaches delivering breakthrough technologies and why she has now set her sights on global health.

Jan 27

50 min 4 sec

Cory Doctorow, award-winning author, technologist, and founder joins Azeem Azhar to explore the power of big tech monopolies and how a future wave of antitrust lawsuits could unleash innovation across the sector.

Jan 6

30 min 27 sec

Azeem Azhar reflects on how Covid-19 has affected technology and our lives in 2020 and why the effects of the pandemic will be felt for many years to come.

Dec 2020

30 min 6 sec

Cory Doctorow, award winning author, technologist, and founder, joins Azeem Azhar to explore how we can harness massive collective action and exponential technologies to mitigate climate change.

Dec 2020

32 min 24 sec

Leila Rastegar Zegna, general partner and co-founder of Kindred Capital, joins Azeem Azhar to explore a new model for venture capital, where startup founders become partners in the fund. This new approach aims to align incentives for entrepreneurs and investors, in order to build a healthier innovation community.

Dec 2020

54 min 15 sec

Jesper Brodin, CEO of Ingka Group, joins Azeem Azhar to explore IKEA’s goal to be a net reducer of carbon emissions by 2030 – while still growing its business.

Dec 2020

45 min 41 sec

Kai-Fu Lee, AI pioneer and investor, joins Azeem Azhar to explore the evolution of China’s vibrant tech sector, the rise of consumer-facing robots, the consequences for labor, and the future of educational technologies.

Dec 2020

46 min 27 sec

Zymergen CEO Joshua Hoffman joins Azeem Azhar to explore how cutting-edge bioengineering, robotics, and machine learning are helping create a new generation of high-performance, environmentally sustainable materials for the 21st Century.

Nov 2020

41 min 34 sec

Investor Chamath Palihapitiya joins Azeem Azhar to explore the dysfunctional relationship between capital and companies, why he loves a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company), and why he’s championing a new wave of climate change innovators. Note: Portions of the conversation that had been removed in an earlier version of this episode have been reinstated for greater clarity.

Nov 2020

42 min 41 sec

“The time for vertical farming is here,” says Mike Zelkind, co-founder and CEO of 80 Acres Farms. He joins Azeem Azhar to explore what’s broken in the food supply chain, and how a new breed of high-tech, indoor farms could deliver better, tastier food using a fraction of the resources.

Nov 2020

33 min 14 sec

Yale professor Nicholas Christakis argues that we can expect this current phase of the Covid-19 pandemic to end in 2022. In conversation with Azeem Azhar, Christakis explains why we need to brace for what comes next.

Nov 2020

39 min 8 sec

Ownership of personal data is a form of power – and that power is concentrating in the hands of governments and big tech. Should we be worried? Dr. Carissa Véliz, from the Institute for Ethics in AI at the University of Oxford, joins Azeem Azhar to discuss her new book “Privacy is Power.”

Nov 2020

36 min 9 sec

Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer joins Azeem Azhar to explore how they built the infrastructure powering the social network, why AI and virtual reality are the core of its future, and how the company approaches content moderation.

Oct 2020

45 min 53 sec

DeepMind’s co-founder and CEO, Demis Hassabis, joins Azeem Azhar to explore his company's progression from gaming to accelerating scientific discovery.

Oct 2020

44 min 36 sec

Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s first digital minister, joins Azeem Azhar to discuss how the Taiwanese Government is using the Internet as a space for civic participation, dialogue, and consensus building.

Oct 2020

41 min 11 sec

OpenAI stunned the world with the release of the world’s most impressive language-generating AI. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman joins Azeem Azhar to reflect on the huge attention generated by GPT-3 and what it heralds for the future research and development toward the creation of a true artificial general intelligence (AGI).

Oct 2020

46 min 29 sec

As we wrap up the season and head off to a short summer break, Azeem Azhar reflects on what he learned from his conversations with technology and business leaders on the podcast -- and how those insights may help us understand where the world is headed.

Jul 2020

5 min 33 sec