WNYC Studios
Playing God
When people are dying and you can only save some, how do you choose? Maybe you save the youngest. Or the sickest. Maybe you even just put all the names in a hat and pick at random. Would your answer change if a sick person was right in front of you? In this episode, first aired back in 2016, we follow New York Times reporter Sheri Fink as she searches for the answer. In a warzone, a hurricane, a church basement, and an earthquake, the question remains the same. What happens, what should happen, when humans are forced to play God? Very special thanks to Lilly Sullivan. Special thanks also to: Pat Walters and Jim McCutcheon and Todd Menesses from WWL in New Orleans, the researchers for the allocation of scarce resources project in Maryland - Dr. Lee Daugherty Biddison from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Howie Gwon from the Johns Hopkins Medicine Office of Emergency Management, Alan Regenberg of the Berman Institute of Bioethics and Dr. Eric Toner of the UPMC Center for Health Security. Episode Credits: Reported by - Reported by Sheri Fink. Produced by - Produced by Simon Adler and Annie McEwen. Citations: Articles: You can find more about the work going on in Maryland at: Books: The book that inspired this episode about what transpired at Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina, Sheri Fink’s exhaustively reported Five Days at Memorial, now a series on Apple TV+. Our newsletter comes out every Wednesday. It includes short essays, recommendations, and details about other ways to interact with the show. Sign up (! Radiolab is supported by listeners like you. Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab ( today. Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @radiolab, and share your thoughts with us by emailing
59 min
The Ezra Klein Show
The Ezra Klein Show
New York Times Opinion
Ethereum’s Founder on What Crypto Can — and Can’t — Do
When most people hear “crypto,” the first thing they think of is “currencies.” Cryptocurrencies have skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years. And they’ve given rise to an entire ecosystem of financial speculation, get rich quick schemes, and in some cases outright fraud. But there’s another side of crypto that gets less attention: the segment of the community that is interested in the way the technology that powers crypto can decentralize decision making, make institutions more transparent and transform the way organizations are governed. That’s the side I find far more interesting. There are few individuals as central to that latter segment of crypto as Vitalik Buterin. When he was still just a teenager, Buterin co-founded Ethereum, a decentralized platform whose token Ether is the second most valuable cryptocurrency today, surpassed only by Bitcoin. But the vision behind Ethereum was that the blockchain technology could be used for more than digital money; it could create a sort of digital infrastructure on top of which organizations and companies and applications could be built — ostensibly free of centralizing structures like banks and governments. Over the last decade, Buterin has become arguably the core public intellectual on the nonfinancial side of crypto. His new book, “Proof of Stake,” is a collection of long, thoughtful essays that taken together lay out a vision of crypto as a truly transformative technology — one with the potential to revolutionize everything from city governance to voting systems to online identity. I myself have dueling impulses about Buterin’s vision. On the one hand, I believe many of our governing systems and institutions are badly in need of the kind of reimagining he is engaged in. On the other hand, I’m deeply skeptical of whether the issues Buterin and his ilk are focused on are actually technological problems that blockchains can solve. So this is a conversation that sits squarely within that tension. Mentioned: Seeing Like a State by James C. Scott Book recommendations: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer Harry Potter and The Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky Algorithmic Game Theory by Noam Nisan, Tim Roughgarden, Eva Tardos and Vijay V. Vazirani Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin and Rogé Karma. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Original music by Isaac Jones. Mixing by Sonia Herrero, Isaac Jones and Carole Sabouraud. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin, Kristina Samulewski, Will Wilkinson, Alex Tabarrok, Glen Weyl and Nathan Schneider.
1 hr 37 min
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