Debora Spar on Work, Mate, Marry, Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny

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Posted on: October 2, 2020 / Last Modified: October 12, 2022

Debora Spar is a Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and Senior Associate Dean of Harvard Business School Online. Her research focuses on issues of gender and technology as well as the interplay between technological change and broader social structures. Prof. Spar tackles some of these issues in her recent book Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny.

During this 90 min interview with Debora Spar, we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: whether we can predict the future by looking at the past; the story of how she started with an interest in foreign service, went into studying Soviet Military Studies and ended teaching in Harvard Business School; the interplay between technology, social structures, and gender; prioritizing questions such as why and so what before how; the cyber-punk dream of the internet and why self-regulation doesn’t work; whether technology changes the world; why Work Mate Marry Love has a Marxist lens of analysis; John Maynard Keynes’ The Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren; male/female identity and professional vocation; technological unemployment and story-telling; Prof. Benanav’s argument about the causes of unemployment; sex and relationships in the age of Tinder; how the plow and the pill shifted power between men and women.

My favorite quote that I will take away from this conversation with Debora Spar is:

It’s important to look at technology with the broadest lens. Not only in its engineering, its machinery, but as a crucial input to our societies.

As always you can listen to or download the audio file above or scroll down and watch the video interview in full. To show your support you can write a review on iTunesmake a direct donation or become a patron on Patreon.

Who is Debora Spar?

Debora Spar is the MBA Class of 1952 Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and Senior Associate Dean of HBS Online. Her current research focuses on issues of gender and technology, and the interplay between technological change and broader social structures. Spar tackles some of these issues in her latest book Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny.

Debora Spar served as the President of Barnard College from 2008 to 2017. During her tenure at Barnard, Spar led initiatives to highlight women’s leadership and advancement, including the creation of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies and the development of Barnard’s Global Symposium series.

Before joining Barnard, Spar spent 17 years on the HBS faculty as the Spangler Family Professor as well as the Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development. A prolific writer, Spar’s books include Ruling the Waves: Cycles of Discovery, Chaos, and Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection (2013).

Debora is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves as a director of Value Retail LLC and Thermo Fisher Scientific, as well as a trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Spar earned her Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University and her B.S. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Debora Spar and her husband, Miltos Catomeris, are the parents of three grown children.

 

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