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Justin Kan opens up (Part 1)

TechMatters
February 2, 2020

Justin Kan opens up (Part 1)

Greg Epstein

Contributor

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Greg M. Epstein is the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard and MIT, and the author of The New York Times bestselling book “Good Without God.” Described as a “godfather to the[ humanist] movement” by The New York Times Magazine in recognition of his efforts to build inclusive, spurring and ethical societies for the nonreligious and allies, Greg was also specified “one of the top faith and moral commanders in the United States” by Faithful Internet, development projects of the United Church of Christ and the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society.

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I am a chaplain trying to understand the tech world-wide, and to me, that wants I is important to understand people like Justin Kan.

Who, after all, most “represents tech? ” There are the self-evident answers: secular deities like Bill Gates, Elon Musk or the late Steve Jobs. Or there are the often-marginalized chassis on whom I’ve often preferred to focus in writing this column: the immigrant women of color who constructed the industry’s existing infrastructure; social workers and feminist philosophers who study how tech certainly works on a subconscious rank, and how to fix it; or the next generation of supervisors who represent the future of tech even as they worry about the inequalities they themselves embody.

But you can’t understand what has come to be the strength and mystique of tech without too understanding the minds of its ambiguous founders. Justin Kan is a serial financier and founder who, whether you increase his public expression or not, certainly stands out as one of the most interesting examples of that classic Silicon Valley archetype: a tech industrialist ostensibly doing much more than just selling technology.

Kan famously started his business career not long after he graduated from Yale in 2005 by creating Justin.tv, a tech stage from which he broadcast his working life 24/7. Fifteen years later, Kan’s original theory seems charming, given the level of self-promotion and oversharing that’s become banal. And hitherto, as he was arguably the first person to turn surveillance capitalism into not only overt performance art but likewise a noteworthy career in startups and venture capital, one can’t help but take the idea of Justin Kan earnestly, at the least as a harbinger of what is to come.

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