Today we present the third and final installment of my interview with Chris Anderson. He was magazine’s editor-in-chief for 12 years and then started one of the most influential companies in the brief history of consumer drones. Please check out parts one and two if you missed them. Otherwise, press play on the embedded player or pull up the transcript—both of which are below.
Today’s episode starts in the greener pastures that Chris’ startup, 3DR, found after Chinese behemoth DJI annihilated his drone manufacturing business. 3DR is now all about construction. Few points on our planet change more on a daily basis than construction sites. These sites also have masses of expensive inputs lying around in the open for months or even years. All of which creates boundless opportunities for drones to audit progress, detect pilfering, and more. We discuss all this in detail.
We then explore Chris’ nuanced take on China as a competitive force. He’s extremely fair-minded—even generous—toward the company that all but liquidated his startup. This stems from his unusually sophisticated understanding of Chinese business. Chris has ample frontline experience with this, as he spent four years living in China and covering the emergence of its mighty commercial sector for .
Chris is also very generous in his discussion of the US regulators who forbade the commercialization of nonmilitary drones throughout the market’s critical formative years. He and I compare and contrast that period to the early rise of personal computing in the 1970s. Reflecting on things after our interview, I realized that I’m much less forgiving about how regulators treated the nascent drone market than Chris is. I discuss my perspective in my closing comments.
If you enjoy my conversation with Chris, please consider browsing the full archive of the After On podcast on my site. Alternatively, you can find it in your favorite podcast app simply by searching for the words “After On.” I’ve posted deep-dive interviews with dozens of world-class thinkers, founders, and scientists—tackling subjects like cryptocurrency, astrophysics, genomics, synthetic biology, neuroscience, consciousness, privacy & government hacking, and a lot more.
Finally, if you’re curious about the latest episode in the main After On podcast feed, this week it’s an interview with Yale primatologist and psychology professor Laurie Santos. Most of Laurie’s academic work has been on animal cognition. Then this spring, she offered a course on the science and practice of human happiness—almost as an experiment. To her astonishment, it became the most popular class in Yale’s 300-plus year history. She has some fascinating things to say about happiness, as well as cognition in dogs and primates. I hope you’ll tune in for it.
This special edition of the Ars Technicast podcast can be accessed in the following places:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-ars-technicast/id522504024?mt=2 (Might take several hours after publication to appear.)