Interviews

FT Tech Tonic

Financial Times

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A weekly conversation that looks at the way technology is changing our economies, societies and daily lives. Hosted by John Thornhill, innovation editor at the Financial Times.

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Taavet Hinrikus on disrupting the banks

23:38 | Jan 30th

John Thornhill talks to Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of Transferwise, about shaking up the lucrative money transfer business and how he helped build a tech unicorn that is not only highly valued but is profitable too.

AI and software's 'singular moment'

28:31 | Jan 23rd

John Thornhill talks to Chris Bishop, director of Microsoft’s Cambridge research lab, about the potential for exponential growth in the development of software, thanks to machine learning.

The risks and rewards of gene-editing

29:55 | Jan 16th

Robin Lovell-Badge, developmental biologist and geneticist, talks to FT science columnist Anjana Ahuja about the gene-edited babies controversy in China and about the potential for new gene-editing techniques to transform the treatment of diseases li...Show More

Vivienne Ming on solving human problems

31:27 | Jan 9th

John Thornhill talks to Vivienne Ming, a theoretical neuroscientist, entrepreneur and artificial intelligence guru about her work in trying to make technology work for the benefit of humans

Diego Piacentini on GovTech

27:54 | Jan 2nd

The former Amazon executive tells John Thornhill how he applied the lessons he’d learnt at the US technology company to help transform Italians’ experience of dealing with government.

Trust in the digital age

30:57 | Dec 26th, 2018

John Thornhill talks to the academic and author Rachel Botsman about the evolution of trust in the digital age and the way technology has undermined our faith in institutions

Graphcore's next generation chip technology

25:26 | Dec 19th, 2018

Nigel Toon, founder and chief executive of Graphcore, talks to John Thornhill about the chip technology his company is developing and its potential to speed the advance of machine learning.  

What robots can teach humans

35:23 | Dec 12th, 2018

John Thornhill talks to Maja Pantic, Professor of Affective and Behavioural Computing at Imperial College in London, about her work testing the boundaries of human robot interaction.

Making the most of work chat

26:21 | Dec 5th, 2018

Stewart Butterfield, co-founder and chief executive of San Francisco-based Slack tells John Thornhill how his fascination for technology that facilitates human interaction came about.

Artificial intelligence that learns on the fly

18:10 | Nov 28th, 2018

Physicist Zdenka Kuncic tells FT science editor Clive Cookson about the difference between software-based and hardware-based approaches to artificial intelligence and her work to develop autonomous intelligent systems for potential use in space and i...Show More

The business of cybercrime

23:59 | Nov 21st, 2018

Sociologist Jonathan Lusthaus spent seven years talking to cyber criminals.  He tells Hannah Kuchler what he discovered about the extent of their involvement with organised crime and what he thinks it would take to persuade them to put their talents ...Show More

Technology and the human brain

26:01 | Nov 14th, 2018

Murali Doraiswamy, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Duke University Health System, tells Shannon Bond about his research into potential technological solutions to neurological and mental health disorders.

Investing in deep tech

21:44 | Nov 7th, 2018

Investor Alice Newcombe-Ellis tells John Thornhill about her strategy for discovering and investing in the next generation of disruptive technology companies

Puncturing the AI hype

23:45 | Oct 31st, 2018

Zia Chishti's latest business venture Afiniti uses artificial intelligence to match customers and employees, but he tells John Thornhill he sees the technology as evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, and offers his thoughts on the dos and don'ts ...Show More

Who sets the internet standards?

24:29 | Oct 24th, 2018

Hannah Kuchler talks to American social scientist and cyber security expert Andrea Little Limbago about the worrying lack of agreement among governments on how best to promote the beneficial aspects of the internet.

David Sanger on cyber warfare

30:44 | Oct 17th, 2018

John Thornhill talks to the New York Times journalist about his latest book: The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age.  

Adrian Lovett on fighting for a better web

27:14 | Oct 10th, 2018

Web Foundation president and CEO Adrian Lovett talks to John Thornhill about open data, net neutrality and widening global internet access. Web Foundation website

Jocelyn Bell Burnell on new frontiers in astronomy

22:26 | Oct 3rd, 2018

Clive Cookson talks to astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell about her decision to give away her $3m Breakthrough Prize in physics and about what she sees as the most exciting new areas of future research.

Tristan Harris on digital Frankensteins

28:00 | Sep 26th, 2018

The former Google employee turned campaigner has made it his mission to alert society about the dangers of using computer algorithms to capture our attention. He tells John Thornhill why he co-founded the Centre for Humane Technology and what it does...Show More

Liberty and morality in the AI era

25:05 | Sep 19th, 2018

Jamie Susskind, author of Future Politics, Verity Harding of Google DeepMind, and Tabitha Goldstaub, co-founder of CognitionX, discuss liberty and morality in the AI era in a panel debate recorded at the FT’s recent FT Weekend Festival in London.

Irene Ng on redistributing the economic power of data

23:51 | Sep 12th, 2018

Entrepreneur and academic Irene Ng talks to John Thornhill about the Hub of all Things - a microserver that allows people to own and control their own data.

What's next for Dropbox?

26:24 | Sep 5th, 2018

Drew Houston, co-founder of the business software company, tells John Thornhill how he caught the entrepreneurial bug and what's next for Dropbox.

Tech Tonic returns

01:35 | Aug 29th, 2018

John Thorhill and guests return for a news series of Tech Tonic, the show that looks at the way technology is changing our lives.

How can we make governments smarter?

24:27 | May 9th, 2018

Robyn Scott talks to John Thornhill about her company Apolitical, a global news and networking site that seeks to share knowledge and spread best practice among the world's top civil servants

The new AI battleground

22:09 | May 2nd, 2018

Nicole Eagan, chief executive of Darktrace, tells John Thornhill corporate networks have become the new battleground in a cyberwar waged by criminals and state actors using artificial intelligence

Terah Lyons on fashioning the AI future

27:30 | Apr 25th, 2018

John Thornhill talks to Terah Lyons, founding executive director of the Partnership on AI, a US initiative that brings civil society groups into a debate with big tech companies to promote the benefits of machine intelligence.

What we can learn from ancient DNA

21:10 | Apr 18th, 2018

David Reich, professor of genetics at Harvard, talks to Clive Cookson, the FT's science editor, about how the genomic revolution is affecting paleontology and the study of human pre-history.

Julia Shaw on a bot you can trust

25:30 | Apr 11th, 2018

Psychologist Julia Shaw talks to John Thornhill about her research into the fragility of human memory and how this helped her design a software tool that can be used to record and report workplace harassment

The consumer awakening

29:52 | Apr 4th, 2018

How can we fix the digital future? Writer and Silicon Valley critic Andrew Keen tells John Thornhill our best resource is human agency and the power of consumers to reject products that they have lost faith in

Facebook and Google: platforms or publishers?

47:05 | Mar 28th, 2018

The big tech platforms where many people get their news wield significant power. How do they work with publishers, and are they doing enough to combat "fake" news? FT global media editor Matt Garrahan put the questions to a panel of experts at the FT...Show More

Removing bias from AI

25:23 | Mar 21st, 2018

Kriti Sharma talks to John Thornhill about her work for the UK software company Sage and about her mission to bring greater diversity and accountability to the algorithms that guide our decisions.

Rethinking the way we earn money

22:34 | Mar 14th, 2018

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes joins the FT's Hannah Kuchler to talk about economic inequality in the age of "big tech", and his proposal to shrink the income gap in the US. It's the subject of his book Fair Shot: Rethinking inequality and how we e...Show More

Erel Margalit on investing in peace

29:07 | Mar 7th, 2018

John Thornhill talks to Erel Margalit, founder and chairman of Jerusalem Venture Partners, about his plan to help create a regional hub for tech startups and how he believes business collaboration in the region can help ease tensions when politicians...Show More

Is there anyone out there?

21:17 | Feb 28th, 2018

Clive Cookson, FT science editor, discusses the possibility of alien life and whether we would recognise it if we encountered it with British astrophysicist Paul Davies.

ENCORE: When data rules the world

26:15 | Feb 21st, 2018

In this encore episode, John Thornhill talks to author and historian Yuval Noah Harari about his vision of a future when humans are no longer the smartest algorithm on the planet.

Road testing self-drive cars

23:21 | Feb 14th, 2018

John Thornhill talks to nuTonomy's Gretchen Effgen about why the company chose Singapore as well as Boston to test its self-drive cars and why it uses a formal methods approach to developing its software.

Jacqueline Poh on digital government

23:05 | Feb 7th, 2018

John Thornhill talks to the head of Singapore's GovTech about her work in advancing the country's Smart Nation ambitions

Martin Rees on saving the planet

27:17 | Jan 31st, 2018

John Thornhill talks to leading astrophysicist Martin Rees about why he thinks we need to pay greater attention to the risks posed by environmental damage and the rapid adoption of new technologies.

Silicon Valley's coming of age

28:49 | Jan 24th, 2018

Historian Leslie Berlin talks to the FT's Hannah Kuchler about the generation of entrepreneurs and investors, from Mike Markkula to Sandra Kurtzig, who transformed the tech hub in the 1970s and 1980s. It's the subject of her latest book "Troublemaker...Show More

Calum Chace on a world without work

24:45 | Dec 27th, 2017

Business and science fiction writer Calum Chace talks to John Thornhill about the exponential growth of AI and why we need to start planning now for a world without work.

Social media in the classroom

29:13 | Dec 20th, 2017

How is the use of mobile technology and social media affecting the lives of children and adolescents? Sonia Livingstone, professor of psychology at the LSE in London, examined the issue in her book: The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age. ...Show More

Garry Kasparov on the risks and rewards of AI

24:10 | Dec 13th, 2017

Artificial intelligence is an important tool, but human beings have to be creative to understand how best to make use of it, former world chess champion Garry Kasparov tells John Thornhill

Guarding against the next cyber attack

36:05 | Dec 6th, 2017

Army veteran and cyber security expert Rick Howard talks to the FT's Hannah Kuchler about the current state of cyber security, what we have learned from recent large-scale attacks known as WannaCry and NotPetya and what companies can do to try to gua...Show More

Why AI is the future

34:32 | Nov 29th, 2017

Phil Libin, former chief executive of Evernote, tells John Thornhill why he thinks artificial intelligence will soon be part of the fabric of all our lives and about his plan to create a global AI incubator

Using tech to fight poverty

39:30 | Nov 22nd, 2017

Elisabeth Mason, founding director of the Stanford Poverty & Technology Lab, talks to the FT's Hannah Kuchler about solving problems such as education inequality and job retraining the Silicon Valley way. 

What has gone wrong with the internet revolution?

37:27 | Nov 15th, 2017

Internet pioneer Martha Lane Fox talks to John Thornhill about her work in trying to ensure that the technology lives up to its early ideals and serves the interests of people rather than big companies.

Human friendly robotics

30:54 | Nov 8th, 2017

Artificial intelligence entrepreneur Mark Palatucci talks to John Thornhill about the consumer robot revolution and his efforts to help create empathy between humans and their robot toys

The social media effect

40:52 | Nov 1st, 2017

Microsoft researcher and Data & Society president danah boyd talks to the FT's Hannah Kuchler about the effect of everyday technology, such as Facebook, on society and culture.

Reclaiming Europe's digital sovereignty

36:17 | Oct 25th, 2017

Francesca Bria tells John Thornhill how she is helping citizens in Barcelona design their digital future, moving from an economy fuelled by advertising and surveillance and towards transparency and a new social pact on the ownership of data.

Seth Stephens Davidowitz on data mining

31:51 | Oct 18th, 2017

John Thornhill talks to Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a former Google data scientist, about what our internet searches reveal about who we really are.

Mary Lou Jepsen on the wearable MRI

37:42 | Oct 11th, 2017

Scientist and former Facebook and Google executive Mary Lou Jepsen talks to the FT's Hannah Kuchler about her latest startup, Openwater, where she and a team of researchers are working to develop a ski helmet-sized imaging device that will one day re...Show More

Tech Tonic returns for a second series

11:03 | Oct 4th, 2017

Tech Tonic returns for a second series, starting next week. Our first guest is a former Google and Facebook executive who is working on a wearable diagnostic product that can read your mind. We’ll also be hearing how search engine data can be used to...Show More

What lies ahead for AR

45:12 | Jun 21st, 2017

Matt Miesnieks, creator of one of the first augmented reality apps and co-founder of startup 6D, tells the FT's Tim Bradshaw about the technological advances that make AR possible, and what needs to happen if it is to fulfill its promise.

Tim Wu on addictive apps

35:31 | Jun 14th, 2017

The author of "The Attention Merchants" talks to John Thornhill about his concerns about the way some web apps are eating into our time

The graphics chip powering AI technology

32:50 | Jun 7th, 2017

Jensen Huang, chief executive of graphics chipmaker Nvidia, tells the FT's Tim Bradshaw how the graphics processing unit, or GPU, the company pioneered in the 1990s is being used in everything from virtual reality to machine learning to autonomous ca...Show More

Silicon Valley's newest recruits

34:02 | May 31st, 2017

Jeremy Johnson, chief executive of Andela, talks to the FT's Hannah Kuchler about how his company recruits and trains software engineers from several African countries and then places them with the top tech companies.

The limits of artificial intelligence

36:02 | May 24th, 2017

Despite billions being spent on research, even our best deep learning neural networks look pitiful when compared to the intricate design of the brain of a bumble bee or even an ant, Peter Bentley tells John Thornhill.

Using blockchain to fight fraud

33:44 | May 17th, 2017

Leanne Kemp's company Everledger uses blockchain technology to track the provenance of assets, from diamonds to fine wines. She talks to John Thornhill about the technology's potential to combat fraud.

Uber's plans for aviation on demand

32:16 | May 10th, 2017

Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer, talks to the FT's Leslie Hook about the company's ambitious plan to start testing an aerial taxi service as soon as 2020.

How US companies find the right talent

28:57 | May 3rd, 2017

Mehul Patel, chief executive of Hired, talks to the FT's Hannah Kuchler about hiring trends in Silicon Valley and other technology hubs in the US, and what some companies are doing in response to President Donald Trump's executive action on immigrati...Show More

What's next for Stripe and online payments

33:38 | Apr 26th, 2017

Stripe's John Collison speaks to the FT's Leslie Hook about what he and his co-founder brother have planned for the $9bn online payments company, why Silicon Valley is still their preferred place to have their headquarters and what it is like to be o...Show More

What self-driving cars could do for robotics

40:07 | Apr 19th, 2017

Jeremy Conrad, co-founder of hardware incubator and VC fund Lemnos Labs, talks to the FT's Tim Bradshaw about the way economies of scale in the self-driving car industry could bolster the field of robotics.

How DeepMind vanquished Go

42:01 | Apr 12th, 2017

Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of DeepMind, talks about what he learnt from the Alpha Go experience and the complex problems his artificial intelligence company has been working on since it was acquired by Google in 2014.

Engineering your own chatbot

42:03 | Apr 5th, 2017

Lili Cheng and her team at Microsoft's FUSE Labs are at the forefront of research on social interaction with artificial intelligence. She joins the FT's Richard Waters to discuss the evolution of chatbot technology, what the company learnt from its e...Show More

Political disruption and the internet

30:05 | Mar 29th, 2017

Helen Margetts, head of the Oxford Internet Institute, talks to the FT's Madhumita Murgia about fake news, echo chambers, big data and why we need more research to be able to combat the "pathologies" of the internet.

The virtue of cash

33:24 | Mar 22nd, 2017

Rutger Bregman tells John Thornhill there is evidence to show that we can end poverty by handing out cash to those who need it. The idea of a universal basic income is one whose time has come, he says, and it is finding support in unexpected places l...Show More

A look inside Uber

37:08 | Mar 15th, 2017

Uber investor and adviser Bradley Tusk talks to the FT's Leslie Hook about the highs and lows of the ride-sharing company's rapid expansion, and how companies in the sharing economy can manage regulatory hurdles.

Science and security

33:32 | Mar 8th, 2017

Entrepreneur Tom Ilube talks about his work with scientists to deploy their research in the battle against cybercrime, tech advances and education in Africa and why companies need to take cyber security more seriously.

Cracking the ed-tech market

44:35 | Mar 1st, 2017

Duolingo cofounder and chief executive Luis von Ahn talks to the FT's Tim Bradshaw about creating the snackable language learning app that now serves more than 150m global users, and how the company's model can be translated into other digital educat...Show More

Coding for everyone

34:45 | Feb 22nd, 2017

Madhumita Murgia speaks to Kathryn Parsons about her work in promoting digital literacy through the company she co-founded, Decoded, which aims to teach people to code in a day.

Sharing the cost of driving

34:35 | Feb 15th, 2017

Frédéric Mazzella tells the story of BlaBlaCar, the ride-sharing company he founded, which now operates in over 20 countries, and talks about the rise of tech entrepreneurship in France.

The future of work

33:34 | Feb 8th, 2017

What will displaced professionals and workers do when intelligent machines take their jobs? Will poets, thinkers and musicians become sought-after occupations? Or will people slump into a world of virtual reality entertainment? Tim Bradshaw discusses...Show More

When machines outsmart their human designers

34:40 | Feb 1st, 2017

Stuart Russell, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, was one of the first researchers to sound the alarm bell on the risks of developing artificial intelligence. He joins the FT's Richard Waters t...Show More

Living in a modern surveillance state

42:18 | Jan 25th, 2017

Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, talks to the FT's Hannah Kuchler about government surveillance in the US after the Snowden revelations, and how it could all change under a Trump ...Show More

Disrupting the banking industry

36:47 | Jan 18th, 2017

Mike Cagney, chief executive and founder of online lender SoFi, talks to the FT's Tom Braithwaite about building a fintech company from refinancing student loans; the high-income millennials the service targets; and why they use tools like job search...Show More

The changing face of Russian cyber espionage

42:48 | Jan 11th, 2017

Kevin Mandia, chief executive of cyber security firm FireEye, joins the FT's Hannah Kuchler to discuss how Russian hackers changed the rules of engagement of cyber espionage. Mr Mandia and his company, Mandiant, came to prominence in 2013 when it rel...Show More

Blazing a trail for women in tech

30:00 | Jan 4th, 2017

Madhumita Murgia, the FT's European technology correspondent, talks to Dame Stephanie Shirley, a pioneer of the computer software industry and one the first female tech entrepreneurs, about how she fell in love with computers.

Re-empowering the consumer

33:04 | Dec 28th, 2016

Nigel Shadbolt, co-founder of the Open Data Institute, talks to John Thornhill about the imbalance between the personal and private control of data and the need to re-empower the consumer.

Hacking foreign policy

38:48 | Dec 22nd, 2016

As the first US ambassador to Silicon Valley, Zvika Krieger is trying to harness the tech capital's brain power to solve some of the country's biggest foreign policy challenges. He talks to the FT's Hannah Kuchler.

Fighting back against the throwaway culture

29:49 | Dec 14th, 2016

Kyle Wiens, chief executive of iFixit, made his name by tearing apart mobile phones and laptops to understand how they were built and publishing his findings in open source repair manuals. He talks to the FT's Tim Bradshaw about the risks involved in...Show More

Inside Google's innovation factory

33:24 | Dec 7th, 2016

Alphabet's research and development lab X is the breeding ground for Google's biggest technological bets, including self-driving cars and a network of internet-providing balloons. Astro Teller, the entrepreneur and scientist at the helm of X, talks t...Show More

When data rules the world

36:22 | Nov 30th, 2016

John Thornhill talks to author and historian Yuval Noah Harari about his vision of a future when humans are no longer the smartest algorithm on the planet.

The driverless car revolution

28:43 | Nov 23rd, 2016

Driverless cars will improve our lives dramatically but, as with all technologies, there will be a dark side as millions of jobs disappear, Vivek Wadhwa, entrepreneur and academic, tells John Thornhill.

Keeping the cyber hackers at bay

34:19 | Nov 16th, 2016

Nadav Zafrir, a former Israeli intelligence officer and co-founder of cyber security company Team8, talks to John Thornhill about tracking down cyber criminals and training the tech entrepreneurs of the future

Truth, lies and how to separate fact from fiction

30:24 | Nov 9th, 2016

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, talks to John Thornhill about truth and lies, the role of the media, and his mission to make the sum of human knowledge available to people all over the world

Harnessing the technological revolution

31:54 | Nov 2nd, 2016

Tech utopia or tech dystopia? Carlota Perez of the London School of Economics talks to John Thornhill about the radical changes she believes are needed if we are to harness the benefits of the current technological revolution

Introducing FT Tech Tonic

11:05 | Oct 25th, 2016

In a new podcast from the Financial Times hear John Thornhill and correspondents around the globe in conversation with scientists, entrepreneurs and academics as they examine the way technology is changing the way we live, work and even the way we th...Show More