First Contact with Laurie Segall

First Contact with Laurie Segall

iHeartRadio & Dot Dot Dot
Mar 30, 2020 43 min

Quarantine Diaries

While we all stay inside, each one of us is living our own story. Many of us are coping with the painful realities of a society in isolation. Jobs lost. Weddings canceled. Loved ones sick, or worse. We are confronting a new reality, and an uncertain future. First Contact host Laurie Segall has been in quarantine for weeks, and she’s been thinking a lot about community. Human connection. And then she had an idea: What if we cold-called strangers in quarantine, and just listened to what they had to say? About life, isolation, their hopes, and fears? Here’s what happened... Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 19, 2020 42 min

It’s "Boss Level Mode” Time: Remote Work Pioneer Matt Mullenweg On Staying Productive

Workouts between calls. Meditation apps. A desk candle to boost productivity. Work-from-home hacks for all of us, as we self-isolate and practice social distancing to slow the spread of Coronavirus. Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress and Automattic, was an early evangelist of remote work. Back in the early 2000s, many of his first hires at Wordpress were people he had never met in person. Today, Automattic has nearly 1,200 employees spread across 75 countries around the globe. With the pandemic now forcing many companies to unexpectedly adopt similar policies, Matt gives Laurie advice on transitioning to this new lifestyle and answers listener questions on the best ways for employees and employers to stay productive. ———————————————— Show Notes Dance Fitness with Jessica Fitbod (fitness app) Waking Up with Sam Harris (meditation app) Calm (meditation app) Sennheiser headset Zoom videoconferencing Days Without You (Crussen Remix) by Satori Dancing by Kiley Minogue Qbserve (time-tracking app) Momentum (Chrome extension) Tomato One (timer app) Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 16, 2020 1 hr 15 min

Ev Williams on Coronavirus and the 'Extreme' Tech of the Future

Ev Williams is the entrepreneur behind Twitter, Blogger, and publishing platform Medium -- three companies that helped shape the modern Internet. As we grapple with the impact of Coronavirus, these digital platforms are playing an even larger role in our ability to connect with one another. Ev weighs in on how all our lives could change in the short term and what the longer term future may hold for technology and media… Will Augmented Reality project images onto our eyeballs? Will Silicon Valley ever move beyond the attention span economy? Will our lives start to resemble more of a video game than real-life? There's a lot to explore. And no one better than Ev Williams to help make sense of it all. ———————————————— Show Notes Laurie and Ev’s first contact Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a book from Ev’s childhood Full Episode Transcript Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 09, 2020 52 min

Coronavirus: The Rise of Isolation Tech

The rise of “cloud clubbing” from your living room, as people are ordered to stay inside. Digital raves. Virtual connection as a means to deal with an isolation bubble. As people in China grapple with an uneasy reality, isolation, and the uncertainty around the Coronavirus, a new trend is emerging: the rise of Isolation Tech. Concerts are canceled. People are rethinking physical interaction. Nightclubs are shut down. So millions are meeting in digital clubs in the cloud where they can watch live DJ sets on Chinese apps. Welcome to The Matrix. Instead of finding ways to depart from their devices, people have gone all in, living life in a digital bubble. Entrepreneur Zander Shapiro, who has lived in Beijing for nine years, describes his new reality in "the bubble" -- days beginning with virtual work outs, afternoons filled with remote meetings, and evenings where he joins a virtual concert, meeting other avatars for connection. He calls this moment an excellent "experiment" of what's to come in tech. Expect more extremism, less humanity, and money pouring into the business of virtual connection. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 02, 2020 1 hr 5 min

Inside the minds of trolls

Who are the people who spread online disinformation? The so-called trolls you hear about in the news whose jobs are to distort facts and create chaos? Camille Francois knows them well. She’s the chief innovation officer at Graphika - a social media analytics firm hired by major companies to identify and fight online disinformation. Her team was a big part of uncovering the extent of Russian influence during the 2016 election. She spends her time in the darkest corners of the Internet taking on one of the most extraordinary digital threats of our time… But it might just be her humanity that gives her an edge. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Feb 24, 2020 1 hr 29 min

AI: To Kill or Not to Kill?

Should Artificial Intelligence be able to make the decision to take a human life? And if it does, who will be liable if — or when — it goes wrong? When it comes to the future of war and technology, the ethics are murky. Tech is creating a new arms race. Will the U.S. be able to keep up with the likes of China and Russia? And what ethical lines will we draw, or cross, to maintain our national defenses? Let’s rewind to Orange County circa 2017: A handful of entrepreneurs — eating Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell — sat around a table exploring the idea that what the United States needs is a real-life version of Stark Industries. Yes... from Iron Man. That brainstorming session led to Anduril — a defense technology firm that’s since become a billion dollar company at the center of the debate around the future of war. Laurie Segall sat down with Anduril’s co-founder, Trae Stephens, who spends a lot of time thinking about the philosophy of war and how technology is transforming it. In this episode of First Contact, we explore a framework for redefining war — where the front lines of futuristic battlefields are blurred, and technology is leading the charge. Expect rigorous debate. Unpopular viewpoints. And uncomfortable scenarios. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Feb 17, 2020 1 hr 8 min

Ex-Facebook Security Chief Speaks Out on Russia & Spies in Silicon Valley

When the lights went out in his home, and his children asked if it was “Russia,” Facebook's former chief security officer Alex Stamos knew he was bringing his work home. In a candid interview, Stamos opens up about what it was like when his team discovered Facebook had been compromised by Russia, and the personal implications of being at the center of one of the most significant attacks on technology... and democracy. Plus, hear what Alex had to say when asked whether he uncovered spies within Facebook during his time there and why he worries foreign spies have infiltrated every major US tech company. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Feb 10, 2020 1 hr 6 min

She Spent 10+ Years at the CIA. It Didn’t Prepare Her for Life at Facebook.

Yael Eisenstat is trained to analyze an argument from all sides. During her career at the CIA and State Department, she had tea with suspected extremists and sat at tables with people who were programmed to hate her. But the biggest challenge of her career didn’t come from a covert operation… it came when she stepped into Facebook Headquarters to head up their election integrity efforts. This is her story. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Feb 03, 2020 1 hr 6 min

Sam Altman: Growing Up Silicon Valley

According to investor and entrepreneur Sam Altman, the last decade of tech was the warm up... and Silicon Valley didn’t exactly get it right. The main event is even more pressing. Now the stakes are higher. First Contact’s Laurie Segall met Sam ten years ago. Back then, he had a startup called Loopt. It was a location-based social networking app for your phone. Since then, Sam became a fixture in the tech world. Loopt didn’t take off, but he went on to run Y Combinator — one of the most valuable incubators in Silicon Valley. And his next act is OpenAI — an initiative he started with Elon Musk. Sam is someone who’s driven by an inability to stay in the lines. He isn’t afraid to stand up and say things that might get him into trouble and has a history of taking a stand under bright lights and a podium. In this episode of First Contact, Sam opens up about what is was like to come out as gay in a St. Louis high school in the early 2000s, the possibility of human/AI hybrids, and why the next ten years in tech will be more disruptive than the last. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Jan 27, 2020 1 hr 9 min

Kickstarter's Co-founder on Paralyzing Fear & Staying Punk Rock

Have you ever left something that was so tied to your identity, you worried, “Who am I without it?” A job? Maybe a relationship? Although terrifying, sometimes shedding an identity is where the magic happens. Who you are and what you actually stand for becomes a little clearer. At least that was the case for Yancey Strickler. He co-founded Kickstarter and spent five years as CEO. Now Yancey is in the midst of stepping into his own identity without the backbone of the company he created. In his new book, This Could Be Our Future, he asks us to look "beyond money and toward maximizing the values that make life worth living." Yancey tells the story of his journey from growing up on a farm, to punk rocker, to building a tech company that transformed creative communities around the world. Startup life is messy. It comes with a lot of highs and lows. And leaving a job that defines your identity can be paralyzing. So is staying at one when it’s clearly time to go. We are in a similar moment in tech. We’re trying to figure out our identity in what Yancey calls a “dark forest where the loudest and most extreme voices are amplified.” You could argue it’s a pretty important time to understand our own values, and what we value as a society as a whole. In this episode of First Contact, we explore what it’s like to rediscover your identity and stay true to yourself through life’s most challenging moments. Learn more about your ad-choices at
First Contact with Laurie Segall
Tech News
Ongoing podcast