One of Brockman’s persistent laments was that all the billionaire techies in his circle barely read any of the books published by his clients. Not surprisingly, his famed literary dinners – held during the Ted Conference, they allowed Epstein (who kept Brockman’s Edge Foundation on a retainer) to mingle with scientists and fellow billionaires – were mostly empty of serious content.
As Brockman himself put it after one such dinner in 2004, “last year we tried ‘The Science Dinner’. Everyone yawned. So this year, it’s back to the money-sex-power thing with ‘The Billionaires’ Dinner’.” Was “the money-sex-power thing” that very potent “new mode of intellectual discourse” promised by the “third culture”? If so, we’d rather pass.
In attendance at one such dinner, in 1999, was a young Japanese American by the name of Joi Ito; also present were Richard Saul Wurman, the original founder of the Ted Conference, Jeff Bezos, and, among all the other billionaires, Jeffrey Epstein. A godson of Timothy Leary and a college drop-out, Ito would eventually lead the Media Lab, interview Obama, write a popular technology book (another Brockman client), and join 20 different boards, including those of such prestigious institutions as the New York Times, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Knight Foundation.