Should This Exist?

By WaitWhat

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It's the question of our times: How is technology impacting our humanity? "Should This Exist?" invites the creators of radical new technologies to set aside their business plan, and think through the human side: What is the invention’s greatest promise? And what could possibly go wrong? Show host Caterina Fake (Partner, Yes VC; Cofounder Flickr) is a celebrated tech pioneer and one of Silicon Valley’s most eloquent commentators on technology and the human condition. Joined by a roster of all-star expert guests who have a knack for looking around corners, Caterina drops listeners into the minds of today’s ingenious entrepreneurs and guides them through the journey of foreseeing what their technology might do to us, and for us. Should This Exist? is a WaitWhat original series in partnership with Quartz.

Episode Date
Young blood / old brains

What if you could extend your healthy life by 10 or 20 years – with a blood transfusion from someone younger and healthier than you? Research by Stanford professor Tony Wyss-Coray shows potential to treat Alzheimer’s and prevent age-related cognitive decline: He’s discovered that proteins found in the blood of young mice can dramatically reverse the effects of aging when transfused into older mice. Doing the same thing in humans could increase our quality of life as we age, and our life expectancy too. We’re years away from seeing any clinical applications of this research, which gives us time to ask about its implications. Who will have access to this treatment? Who are the donors providing young blood? We could add years to our lives – but is that what we really want?

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Oct 28, 2020
Grandma, here’s your robot

Is it the loneliest idea you’ve ever heard? Or an ingenious hack that helps human caregivers be more attentive and empathetic? You might have these questions when you meet the robot caregivers who roam the halls at retirement homes, doing basic tasks for residents and keeping them connected. Is elder care something we want a robot to do? Roboticist Conor McGinn from Trinity College Dublin actually moved into a retirement home in Washington, DC, to gain a deeper understanding of what residents might want from a robot. The answer surprised him, and it prompts deeper questions: As humans, what responsibility do we have toward our elders? When we fail them, should robots close the gap? And is that the future we want for ourselves?

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Oct 21, 2020
Contact tracing: So promising. So invasive.

It’s one of the best weapons we have to contain a pandemic. But can it defeat the disease without spying on people who might carry it? MIT’s Kevin Esvelt has a bold idea: Let’s try a new form of contact tracing that could more than double the program’s impact. Bi-directional tracing looks both forward and backward from a known transmission, building a chart of the “undiscovered branches of the viral family tree,” and identifying potential spreaders other systems can’t see. But how much of our data are we willing to give the government, even if it’s to fight Covid-19? 

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Oct 15, 2020
The deepfake detective

Chances are, you’ve seen a “deepfake” video. But did you know it? A new breed of tech detectives are building tools to spot these hyper-realistic videos – built with AI – where people say things they didn’t say or do things they’d never do. Some of these clips are just good, fanciful fun. But a deepfake deployed at the right moment could sway an election, or wreck a life. That’s why UC Berkeley professor Hany Farid is working on a “deepfake detective" – a tool to help media outlets know what’s real and what isn’t. But the same program could also give deepfakers a blueprint for how to make their work undetectable. Deepfake technology already exists. This episode asks: What should we do now? 

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Oct 14, 2020
Season 2 Trailer: Should This Exist?

How is technology impacting our humanity? It’s the question of our times. Join host Caterina Fake for Season 2 of Should This Exist -- where each week we take a single technology and ask: What’s its greatest potential? And what could possibly go wrong? 

With fascinating guests telling great stories, we’ll talk about some astounding technologies. Robots who could become our caregivers in old age. Video games that aim to replace the SAT. And virtual reality that could heal our trauma and rewire our brains.

Our boldest new technologies can help us flourish as human beings. Or destroy the very thing that makes us human. You can’t uninvent these technologies. So what are we going to do with them now?

Season 2 of Should This Exist? starts October 14, with 11 all-new episodes. Subscribe now, wherever you listen. And join the Should This Exist newsletter at

Sep 29, 2020
What went wrong with the world wide web – and how we can fix it
Jul 16, 2019
How to hack your way out of aging
Jun 27, 2019
The next gen of meat will be grown in a lab
May 30, 2019
What if you could Photoshop your voice?
May 21, 2019
We can change the DNA of an entire species — in the wild
May 02, 2019
When your invention becomes a weapon
Apr 11, 2019
The return of supersonic flight
Mar 28, 2019
What if your phone could detect how you feel?
Mar 14, 2019
Tell your troubles to the chatbot
Feb 27, 2019
This headset helps you learn faster. But is that fair?
Feb 21, 2019