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DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar speaks during Day 2 of the GeekWire Summit 2016 at the Seattle Sheraton, October 5, 2016. Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire
DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar speaks during Day 2 of the GeekWire Summit 2016 at the Seattle Sheraton, October 5, 2016. Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire

This week on the GeekWire radio show and podcast: If you couldn’t make it to the 2016 GeekWire Summit, have no fear! This week we dive into some of the most insightful and thought-provoking sessions at the Summit, featuring leading minds from the national tech scene.

We’ll hear from developer guru and Stack Overflow CEO Joel Spolsky on what developers really want in their workspace — and it isn’t the open offices and beanbag lounges that we’ve all come to expect.

We’ll also speak with Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi on the future of VR in travel, how bots are changing user experiences, and how Expedia shapes up against competitors like Airbnb.

Plus, we take a peek at the political side of tech with the Clinton campaign’s top digital strategist Teddy Goff, and we speak with Arati Prabhakar, director of DARPA, about innovations in military tech including self-driving ships and the security concerns that come along with the Internet of Things.

Listen to the podcast below or download the MP3 here, and keep reading for a wrap-up and full video of each event.

We kick off the show talking to Joel Spolsky, a long time developer advocate who says tech companies are getting it all wrong when it comes to wooing developers with open workspaces.

“The interesting thing about a developers’ work is that its creative work,” Spolsky said, “and the more things you’re able to keep in your head at once the faster you’ll code by orders of magnitude.”

He says the ultra-open offices that have become common in the tech world actually make a developer’s work harder by creating infinite opportunities for interruptions and distractions.

“At all three of my companies, we either provide a developer with a private, individual office with a door that closes and natural light, or they work from home,” Spolsky said, “and I think the productivity is high, it’s easy to hire people.”

Watch Spolsky’s session in full below:

We also talk VR travel with Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who isn’t a huge fan of the concept.

“I hope that VR in travel fails miserably because I want people to go places,” he said. “And I can guarantee you the real thing is going to be better than the VR experience, at least for a while.”

He does think that VR can be a great inspiration for travel, and said Expedia is working to use VR in marketing various destinations.

We also discuss alt travel resources, like Expedia subsidiary HomeAway, which allows users to search for and book full house rentals. Khosrowshahi says he doesn’t see the brand as a competitor to peer-to-peer lodging services like Airbnb.

Watch Khosrowshahi’s session in full below:

Then we take a dive into Twitter, Facebook, and the 2016 election with Teddy Goff, who says social media companies should be held more accountable for the mistruths that spread on their platform.

“I think legitimate, truth-based conservative views — of course — need to be just as favored by the algorithm as legitimate truth-based progressive views,” he said, refering to Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm. “But truth-based is important.”

Goff cited the Obama birther conspiracy — a belief held by some that President Obama was born outside the US and thus cannot legally serve as president — as an example of the “made up facts” that spread on social media.

“I don’t know what exactly [social media companies] should do, but I think it is a problem for them and It’s a problem for the culture” of American politics, he said.

Watch Goff’s session in full below:

Finally, we take a peek inside DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with the program’s director Arati Prabhakar.

She talks about SeaHunter, an automated ship that is “sized to be able to go weeks to months and sail, not just a few miles off the pier, but literally to leave the pier and navigate across open oceans, across thousands of nautical miles, and to be able to do that with very sparse supervisory control from back home.”

Prabhakar also reflects on the challenge of creating secure integrated systems, which could have a huge effect on how military technology develops.

“At the technical level, I think there are really important lessons to be learned” from the private sector, she said, but the unique circumstances of innovating for a government entity means DARPA can’t just “wave a magic wand and say ‘well, we’ll just do it the way the app store works.’ Because this is a different type of technical challenge.”

Watch Prabhakar’s session in full below:

Editor’s note: Want to check out a live recording of the GeekWire Podcast? Join GeekWire founders Todd Bishop and John Cook from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for the GeekWire Podcast at the Fred Hutchinson Research Center in Seattle. Special guest will be Dr. Jim Olson, the pioneering scientist whose scorpion venom-derived Tumor Paint technology “lights up” cells to more easily identify cancer. Tickets and details here.

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