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In technologists have we finally found the messiahs we've been looking for?

Aleks Krotoski explores how the culture in Silicon Valley led to a growth in the cult of personality and asks if it's gone too far.

This kind of worship has been hot housed in Silicon Valley ever since Steve Jobs burst out of his garage and onto the scene.

Here, we take a look at how Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and others are now regarded as charismatic high priests in a new dark age.

And when our need for meaning collides with our reverence for progress and technology, we end up putting these tech leaders on a pedestal. Have we finally found the messiahs we've been looking for?

Producer: Caitlin Smith

Available now

28 minutes

John Carreyrou

 John Carreyrou is a Pulitzer prize winning investigative journalist and author of ‘Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup’.

He tells us about the entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, and her medical startup Theranos. She claimed she would revolutionise blood testing but in the end was charged with in 2018 with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Carreyrou talks here about he believes Holmes manipulated her image to convince backers to invest. 

Salina Marie Gomez

Salina Marie Gomez

Salina is a visual multimedia artist with diverse experience ranging from virtual reality to illustration to performance art. She has worked in events as a prop designer, a high school art teacher, an art gallerist and a death doula (in-home hospice care). She recently finished a coloring book of fifty interpretive illustrations of Elon Musk's tweets.

She talks with Aleks about how Musk’s philosophy was the inspiration she needed during a very dark time in her life, though she’s latterly taken a step back from focusing on Musk as a person and more on his big ideas. 

Dan Lyons

Dan Lyons

Dan Lyons is the author of Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Startup Bubble, and Lab Rats: Why Modern Work Makes People Miserable. Dan also wrote for HBO's comedy series Silicon Valley. 

  He talks to us about his insights into Silicon Valley culture, and what is experience writing the Fake Steve Jobs blog taught him about hero worship and cults.

Benjamin Tauber

Benjamin Tauber

Ben Tauber is Founding Partner and Board member of Velocity Group. Ben specializes in leadership and performance-optimization coaching. He takes a full-spectrum approach - dialing everything from management style, to mental ability, to exercise and sleep. Ben brings over a decade of leadership experience to his work. Most recently he was CEO of Esalen, the first research and retreat center dedicated to the exploration of human potential. Ben spent his early career as an operator, holding roles that included co-founder/COO of Scoopler (acquired by Google), Product Manager for Google Chat, and Engineer Lead, Adobe Acrobat Connect.

He tells us about his own experience in startup culture, and why he now focuses on helping tech CEOs be better people, for their own sake and the sake to the world at large.

Ben Zeller

Ben Zeller

 Benjamin E. Zeller is Associate Professor of Religion at Lake Forest College (Chicago, USA). He researches religious currents that are new or alternative, including new religions, the religious engagement with science, and the quasi-religious relationship people have with food.  He is the author of Heaven’s Gate: America’s UFO Religion (NYU Press), Prophets and Protons: New Religious Movements and Science in Late Twentieth-Century America (NYU Press), and co-editor of Religion, Food, and Eating in North America (Columbia University Press) and The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements (Bloomsbury). He holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina and a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard University. He is co-general editor of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions.

He tells us about the similarities in religious thinking, and the culture of technology and the figureheads of Silicon Valley.