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Franklin Foer On The Cyborg Future06:02
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Unfettered tech monopolies want to merge humanity and machines, posing grave risks to civilization as we know it, according to the writer Franklin Foer.

An excited customer tries on the Apple Watch at the Eaton Centre Apple Store on Friday, April 10, 2015 in Toronto. (Ryan Emberley/Invision for Apple/AP)
An excited customer tries on the Apple Watch at the Eaton Centre Apple Store on Friday, April 10, 2015 in Toronto. (Ryan Emberley/Invision for Apple/AP)

Foer talked to On Point host Tom Ashbrook Monday about the tech companies that, in his view, want to change the course of human evolution — a sort of cyborg future that makes election-season propaganda seem like small potatoes.

"I think the stakes are extremely high, and because our democracy is at stake, because our privacy is at stake, because the very definition of the human species is at stake, I think we need to proceed with extreme degrees of skepticism and care," Foer, a writer at The Atlantic magazine, said.

Tom's interview with Foer was part of our larger discussion on whether tech giants, like Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google, have too much power and need more government oversight.

Foer, the author of the book "World Without Mind: The Existential Threat Of Big Tech," was a resounding yes on those questions — based in part on his deep dive into YouTube, where he watched speeches by tech luminaries like Google co-founder Larry Page.

In one speech, Foer says, Page describes human beings as "more or less piles of algorithms," or code.

"Therefore, it’s not a stretch to imagine that we need to become cyborg," Foer said.

Right now people can buy Google Glass, a computer worn on the face, or an Apple Watch, a computer worn on the wrist. But some tech luminaries have suggested implanting Google directly into the brain, or creating a machine that would read human brain waves, making computer keyboards — and much else — obsolete.

"I know it sounds kind of grandiose to describe these companies in this sort of way, but really I’m not doing anything more than reading back the things that they themselves say," Foer said.

Check out the entire hour here. 

This segment aired on October 23, 2017.

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