Daniel Schmachtenberger || Towards a Radical Cultural Enlightenment

In this episode, I talk to social philosopher Daniel Schmachtenberger about exponential technology and its effects on our current world. According to Daniel, organizations that harness the power of modern tech rarely use it for good–like how social media companies boost polarizing content to maximize user engagement–leading to a distrust of science and destabilized democracies. To overcome humanity’s current existential threat, Daniel argues we all need to work towards a radical cultural enlightenment. We also touch on the topics of collective intelligence, human development, power, responsibility, and civilization.


Daniel Schmachtenberger is a founding member of The Consilience Project, aimed at improving public sensemaking and dialogue. The throughline of his interests has to do with ways of improving the health and development of individuals and society, with a virtuous relationship between the two as a goal.

Motivated by the belief that advancing collective intelligence and capacity is foundational to the integrity of any civilization, and necessary to address the unique risks we currently face given the intersection of globalization and exponential technology, he has spoken publicly on many of these topics, hoping to popularize and deepen important conversations and engage more people in working towards their solutions.

Website: consilienceproject.org


02:52 Techno-optimism vs techno-pessimism

04:28 Definition of exponential technology

08:39 Is the world getting better from tech?

10:37 The radical asymmetry of power

13:58 Decoupling rewards from development

25:19 A new social media algorithm

28:56 Tribal politics, certainty, and perspective taking

33:55 Developing better cognitive capacities

42:06 Rights and responsibilities in a liquid democracy

46:23 The next phase of open societies

49:26 The Consilience Project

52:23 The need for cultural enlightenment

56:13 Creating an antifragile world

58:49 Collective intelligence

1:00:39 Establish expertise and credibility in institutions

1:05:24 The unique existential threat of the 21st Century