Technoutopianism collaboratively produces original, high-quality digital media that engages publics with cutting-edge social science and humanities knowledge about the promises and pitfalls of techno-utopian thinking and action.

First Podcast Series

Techno-Bros and Technoutopianism

Produced in conjunction with Darts & Letters

Today, our leading public intellectuals aren’t people like John Dewey, Emma Goldman, Bertrand Russell, Rosa Luxemburg, or Stuart Hall. They’re more like: Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Gary Vee, Curtis Yarvin, and the like. We have techbro philosopher kings, and their millions of fans wait on bated breath for their infinite wisdom. Their politics is kind of an anti-politics. It’s a politics of technological solutionism, technological determinism, and technological utopia (or dystopia, depending on who you ask). On this series, we examine the thoughts of our new ‘thought leaders,’ and tell stories of technological utopias past, present, and future.

Ep. 1 (47). Lost Utopias: A History of World’s Fairs (featuring Rob Rydell, Jade Doskow, and Jennifer Daryl Slack)

Welcome to 21st century techno-utopianism. Driven by a new tech-bro/crypto culture, supported by online hordes of true believers, and couched in philosophies of meritocracy and technocracy, techno-utopianism is born anew. But this thinking, while different, is not really new. As Darts and Letters sets out on a series of episodes to explore the persistent belief that technology will save us, we start by looking back to past utopias: rising, shimmering images of a future of wonder and plenty, out towards the horizon. For that, we visit the world’s fairs of techno-utopias past.

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Ep. 2 (55). Mutually Assured Dysfunction (featuring Jessica Hurley and Mark Winfield)

The war in Ukraine has brought nuclear technology to the forefront. There’s the threat of nuclear weapons, and the danger of nuclear power plants melting down under military fire. Yet, the nuclear industry also promises to deliver us from our dependency on fossil fuels. It’s an interesting duality with nuclear: is it the end of the world, or is it salvation? Professor Jessica Hurley, author of Infrastructures of Apocalypse: American Literature and the Nuclear Complex, walks us through the history of nuclear dystopia and nuclear utopia, and how they have always been closely connected.

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Ep. 3. (57). Truck Nuts (featuring Matt Christman, Shane Hamilton, Chase Barber, Justin Martin and Gabrielle Esperdy).

The pickup truck is the symbol of rural conservative masculinity. So, it often takes centre stage in the tired culture wars between reactionary neo-populists and liberal moralists. Like today, with Canada’s right crudely embracing the truck–and tweeting furiously about those ‘Laurentian elites,‘ and ‘Toronto columnists‘ who thumb their nose at it. But, if you really want to piss off the libs: don’t just post about it. Why not hang some big veiny nuts from your truck? Today on the show, we talk about the political history of trucks and trucking.

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Ep. 4. (62). Socialize the Series of Tubes (featuring Ben Tarnoff).

Recently a major outage took nearly a third of Canada offline. No phone, no internet… even access to 911 got shut down in some places, all thanks to Rogers Media Inc. But why does one company get so much control over a vital service like the Internet in the first place? This is the story in the USA as well as Canada – our digitized lives are all being held captive by a tiny number of huge corporations..

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Ep. 5 (64). Technocracy Now!, pt. 1 (featuring Noam Chomsky and Ira Basen).

Technocracy is the idea that experts should govern. For the common good, presumably. It makes a certain amount of sense, given how irrational our politics seem to be right now. So, technocracy is seductive. In fact, it’s an idea as old as politics itself. We begin the first of a three-part series telling stories of technocracies past, present, and future.

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Ep. 6 (65) Technocracy Now!, pt. 2 (featuring Joy Rohde and Eden Medina).

Last episode, we looked at the technocrats of the industrial age: Thorstein Veblen, Howard Scott, and the “industrial tinkerers,” as Daniel Bell put it. But Daniel Bell went on to say we were entered a new age — a “post-industrial age” — where a new kind of technocrat would vie for power. They would develop new intellectual technologies that could be codified into complex ways of understanding, predicting, and maybe even controlling global systems.

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Ep. 7 (66) Technocracy Now!, pt. 3 (featuring Sam Adler-Bell & Alessandro Delfanti)

However, the state under neoliberalism doesn’t have the technocratic ambition it used to. This just isn’t a period of grand New Deal-style programming. There is still a state, but it increasingly outsources its functions. Is technocracy dead, then? No, technocracy is just moving into the private sector. More and more of our lives are governed by unaccountable private tyrannies—tyrannies that employ ruthlessly efficient technocratic systems, with even less democratic input than the technocracies of old.

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Ep. #8 (67) Darts Transit Commission (featuring Paris Marx)

Speaking to Paris Marx of Tech Won’t Save Us on the shifting politics of Silicon Valley, we’ll traverse the intellectual history of hippies-turned-arch-capitalists, and focus especially on their ideas for transportation policy. Do they have a radical vision for a different transportation future, or is it a vision of maintain the status quo? Marx is author of the book Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation, out now from Verso Books.

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On this series, we examine the thoughts of our new ‘thought leaders,’ and tell stories of technological utopias past, present, and future