Below are more than 16 of our most popular, evergreen, and/or favorite episodes of 2017. Since so many of you who are new to the pod (welcome!) ask for where to start, you should check out our 2016 and 2015 lists, too. We hope you enjoy these podcasts as much as we all loved making them, and we are so grateful to all of you — listeners, guests, interviewers, and especially our behind-the-scenes sound editors (Seven! Tommy! Nick!) — who have been on this journey with us for a while.
Fans and friends: please keep sharing how and where you’re listening, since we don’t get to see any of this outside the pod room; while we don’t always respond, we truly love seeing all your tweets — whether it’s commenting on the content/editing and quoting tidbits, or simply appreciating! Thank you too for including the a16z Podcast on all your lists, episode writeups, sketch notes, fan notes (happy new year to you too, one year later), and yes, even for sending in the odd podcast pitch or two. But our favorite thing of all is seeing if an episode changed your thinking (or your life) in some meaningful way… so please keep the notes coming, along with your feedback. 💌
1. Why Crypto Tokens Matter
2. Cryptocurrencies, App Coins, and Investing in Protocols
3. The Golden Era of Productivity, Retail, and Supply Chains
4. The Strategies and Tactics of Big
5. Revenge of the Algorithms (Over Data)… Go! No?
6. From Jobs to Flying Cars
7. The Curious Case of the OpenTable IPO
8. What Technology Wants, Needs, Does
9. Exploding the Map
10. The Cloud Atlas to Real Quantum Computing
11. Build Your Personal Brand
12. Monetizing Open Source (Or, All Enterprise Software)
13. Long Time Scales
The first episode, about gene-editing woolly mammoths and rewilding an Ice Age biome in Arctic Siberia, covers a bit of everything I love — long time scales (as well as the art of timing itself); writing and editing (and especially the choices and tradeoffs involved); friendship (the guests); and most of all, the power of narrative for driving a big vision — whether science, tech, or otherwise — and motivating people to actually build it. The second episode, with Sapiens and Homo Deus author Yuval Harari, also focuses on very long time scales. But it’s really about how technology has allowed humans to manipulate evolution and go beyond our biological and environmental constraints — whether it’s crossing oceans without gills and flying without wings or augmenting our bodies and brains with machines. So what does this mean for long-held systems of belief about education, religion, and more?
14. The Economist(s)
- Companies, Networks, Crowds
- Adjusting to Trade… and Innovation
- Technology, Mobility, and the American Dream
These were some of the most fun and interesting episodes we recorded this year, all featuring economists. Who knew they — and the topic — could be so fun? From the complete-each-other’s-sentences energy of Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee about whether networks replace the firm and the provocative yet respectful “Marvel vs DC”-style debate between Noah Smith and Russ Roberts about trade, jobs, and innovation — to our very own Conversation With the brilliant Tyler Cowen about complacency, performative signaling, and whether we’ve “outsourced” our mobility — these episodes really weave together key themes in technology and economics.
15. Putting AI in Medicine, in Practice
So that giant whiteboard from Grey’s Anatomy? It’s still the reality for operating room scheduling — and is one of the many areas ripe for AI-based intervention in medicine. This episode spans all the ways that machine and deep learning can (and will) have an immediate, practical impact in the medical field — from the nitty gritty to grappling with big questions about major hurdles in place and the ways we need to think about actually implementing it when it comes to saving people’s lives.
16. The Why Behind the Weird
Is human belief perhaps the earliest technology? This lively conversation about economics and history looks at how superstitions and odd practices in human history — such as judicial ordeals like boiling hands in water to determine guilt or innocence — were actually extremely effective tools for achieving the desired outcome, when you look at the ‘why’ behind the ‘weird’.