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Watch > Episode > Cory Doctorow - A Visionary Force in Technology, Activism, and Science Fiction

Cory Doctorow - A Visionary Force in Technology, Activism, and Science Fiction


Cory Doctorow, a multifaceted force in the realms of technology, activism, and science fiction, has established himself as a thought leader with a unique perspective on the intersection of technology and society. As an accomplished author, activist, and advocate for digital rights, Doctorow’s contributions have left an indelible mark on the intellectual landscape. In this fascinating interview, watch as Cory and Brian discuss his life, works, and impact, as well as his vision for the future.

Born on July 17, 1971, in Toronto, Canada, Cory Efram Doctorow exhibited an early fascination with technology and its implications for society. His upbringing in a household that valued intellectual curiosity and critical thinking set the stage for Doctorow’s future endeavours. While still in his teens, he became involved in the burgeoning world of hacking, which provided him with unique insights into the evolving digital landscape.

Cory Doctorow’s foray into the world of science fiction writing began with his debut novel, “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” (2003). This novel not only showcased his storytelling prowess but also introduced readers to his exploration of themes related to technology, copyright, and the impact of the digital age on human existence.

Doctorow’s subsequent works, including “Little Brother” (2008) and “Homeland” (2013), delved into the world of cyberpunk, surveillance, and civil liberties. His ability to weave gripping narratives while addressing pressing societal issues has earned him acclaim within the science fiction genre.

Cory Doctorow is not just a storyteller; he is a passionate advocate for digital rights and open access. He has been a prominent voice in the fight against restrictive intellectual property laws and the erosion of privacy in the digital age. Through his work with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other organisations, Doctorow tirelessly champions the importance of preserving civil liberties in the face of advancing technology.

In his non-fiction works, such as “Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free” (2014) and “Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future” (2008), Doctorow dissects the complexities of copyright, creativity, and the need for an open and accessible internet. His writings serve as rallying cries for a society that values innovation, creativity, and the free exchange of ideas.

Cory Doctorow’s influence extends beyond his books and activism to his prolific blogging. His website,, has been a platform for sharing insightful commentary on technology, copyright issues, and the societal implications of emerging technologies. As a prominent blogger, Doctorow has fostered a community of thinkers and activists who engage in discussions about the evolving landscape of the digital world.

In addition to his solo endeavours, Cory Doctorow has collaborated with other notable authors, including Charles Stross, resulting in the “Rapture of the Nerds” (2012). These collaborations often explore speculative futures, blending Doctorow’s trademark exploration of technology’s impact with diverse narrative voices.

Cory Doctorow’s multifaceted career as an author, activist, and thought leader reflects a deep commitment to examining the evolving relationship between technology and society. Through his science fiction works, digital rights activism, and thought-provoking essays, Doctorow invites readers to contemplate the profound implications of our technological choices. As we navigate the complexities of the digital age, Cory Doctorow’s contributions continue to shape the discourse on freedom, creativity, and the future of humanity in a connected world.


00:00 | Trailer
01:57 Brian’s thoughts on the episode
04:47 Brian’s Introduction
05:24 Cory’s observations on the UK and World property market
10:03 The impact upon the poor of rising property prices
11:56 Pros and cons of living in Burbank, Los Angeles State
15:13 View from America of the forthcoming Presidential election
17:40 Five years on from ‘Trumpism’, what may be happening if we’re not digging through the rubble
28:10 Cory fears a major risk is people’s nihilism, but the contradictions are not intractable31:03 What connecting with characters and situations in books and allows people to do
39:34 Authors and fanfic
41:00 How Cory started writing and persevering when feeling uninspired
57 How Cory manages to be such a prolific writer
47:24 Taking a broader vision of what it means to be published
53:02 Difference between a blog and publishing
56:00 Publishing, the discipline of doing something for someone else
58:18 Team building and team performance
1:01:00 Managing daily family routines around a working couple
1:02:20 Cory’s role at MIT Media Lab and the Forbidden Research project
1:14:53 What Aaron Swartz’ suicide has emphasized
1:22:14 Using the hill climbing algorithm analogy when there seems no way forward
1:23:38 Cory defines his role as an activist
1:24:24 The reasons for Cory’s involvement in the SOPA and Mozilla campaigns
1:34:26 A future world where our assets cease to be ours
1:35:39 What in future we should be aware of from Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft
1:39:51 Two fundamental principles for future use of computers and systems
1:41:48 Which vision of the future are we heading towards, ‘1984’ or ‘Brave New World’
1:42:32 Cory’s view of the future for social media
1:48:28 What the future looks like in Cory’s next book ‘Walk Away’
1:51:19 Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada
1:51:28 A post-scarcity society
1:52:42 What is meant by positional goods
1:55:45 Example of a post-scarcity world
1:58:09 Exciting initial response to ‘Walk Away’
1:58:42 Success Secrets
1:59:33 Does Cory ever fear for his safety or feel watched
2:04:07 Phone call to the 20 year old Cory Doctorow
2:05:13 Best advice ever received
2:06:04 Advice to young people who don’t want to have privacy issues in later life
2:09:36 Brian’s summing up.


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