Steven Weber: How Do We Make Things Better?
In Conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
On today’s episode, Steven Weber, Berkeley iSchool professor, discusses how the most inventive healthcare providers are tackling a global set of challenges.
From the episode:
Andrew Keen: How do you escape your silos?
Steven Weber: I guess I just kind of followed my nose where I thought the interesting and timely problems were. Luckily, the academic world creates a little bit of a niche for people who want to do that. So I took advantage of what was my experience of academics is, which is the reverse. Everyone gets shunted into the horribly narrow silos and spends 30 years writing the same article.
Andrew Keen: But I assume a human, brave or lucky souls like yourself, escaped it?
Steven Weber: No, I didn’t say the academic world rewards you for doing that. It often does not, but it will allow you to do it if you choose to take the risk.
Andrew Keen: As a guy who who trained to be a doctor, and has ended up as a professor of political science and then an expert in informational technology and the politics of the digital revolution, what has 2020 meant to you?
Steven Weber: Yeah, I guess like everybody else, I’ve been struggling to figure out what the longer term implications of this kind of multiple set of interdependent crises means for all of us. It’s almost too much to pass, and I think in some ways, like my fundamental passion over the years in all of these different things I’ve done, has been trying to find tools and ways of thinking that help people deal with overlapping uncertainties.
So I thought when this crisis began that maybe I was in a decent position to at least pass some of those uncertainties in a way that would help decision-making be more efficient, more effective, and manage risk. But I got to tell you, I’m not sure I’ve ever lived through a period where I feel this level of uncertainty that’s relevant to the kinds of decisions we need to make individually and on a social level going forward has ever been higher. So I don’t feel terribly well-prepared, but I have been trying to kind of put a few thoughts down about where I think we’re headed.
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Steven Weber works at the intersection of technology markets, intellectual property regimes, and international politics. His research, teaching, and advisory work focus on the political economy of knowledge intensive industries, with special attention to health care, information technology, software, and global political economy issues relating to competitiveness. He is also a frequent contributor to scholarly and public debates on international politics and US foreign policy. One of the world’s most expert practitioners of scenario planning, Weber has worked with over a hundred companies and government organizations to develop this discipline as a strategy planning tool.