Evgeny Morozov Really Doesn’t Like John Brockman


We’ve all long wondered what Evgeny Morozov is actually for. His pieces seem to be about how that lot over there are terrible. But there’s never any description of what would be better. Except that distinct undertone of how things would be better if Evgeny Morotzov were put in charge.

The MIT-Epstein debacle shows ‘the prostitution of intellectual activity’. Time for a radical agenda: close the Media Lab, disband Ted Talks and refuse tech billionaires money

Well, no, not really. The Epstein event at MIT shows merely that chancers will gravitate to whatever is the perceived centre of power and or coolness in any society. This being true of bureaucracies, caudillism and markets. And?

It wasn’t meant to be that way. Back in 1991, John Brockman – the world’s most successful digital impresario, and, until recently, my literary agent –…….Brockman, who would later connect Epstein to dozens of world-famous scientists, most of them his clients,……Thus, Brockman’s “new modes of intellectual discourse” were mostly the result of technology companies……However, much like at Brockman’s billionaire dinners, there’s not much content to be found in Ito’s work……Brockman, for all his realism about low intellectual standards of the tech community, also couldn’t resist Epstein’s charms, describing him, in an email to me, as “extremely bright and interesting”…….If the “third culture” is so much more sophisticated than its predecessors, how come most of its card-carrying members – famed scientists-cum-brands, courtesy of the Brockman empire……Are the costs of living with this culture – eg the prostitution of intellectual activity at “billionaire dinners”– worth it? And can we still trust what the leading intellectuals of the “third culture” actually have to say, given, also, what they have to sell?…..

The answers to these questions are self-evident. And yet, while it’s easy to attack the rotten apples such as Ito or Negroponte, a more radical transformative agenda should ask for more: close the Media Lab, disband the Ted Talks, refuse the money of tech billionaires, boycott agents like Brockman. Without such drastic changes, the powerful bullshit-industrial complex that is the “third culture” will continue unharmed, giving cover to the next Epstein.

Hmm. It’s just possible – there’s a soupcon of a hint of a squeak of it there – that there’s been a falling out between Morozov and Brockman. We don’t know the details. Could be that Morozov dumped him because Brockman is paying insufficient attention to the one person who is actually right about technology and the world, could be that Brockman simply tired of dealing with an insufferable ego. Or even that the books just don’t sell any more.

But that is the main message of this long piece. Morozov doesn’t like Brockman any more. And they used to be such besties.