Born and raised in Switzerland, James Heim grew up close to a farm, where throughout his childhood he spent lots of time and helped out with chores. He went through public schooling and then got a master degree in economics from the University of Zurich.
After graduating he worked for an international consulting company for a few years, before joining a Swiss foundation, which looks to convince mostly technology companies to expand their business into Switzerland. A couple of years later he was sent to San Francisco to set up the foundation’s presence on the US West Coast. The experiences he made while working with these technology companies make up an important part of what motivated him to write about this topic.
After leaving this foundation James travelled to South East Asia for a few months, where, for the first time, he was intensely exposed to a culture much different from the one he was brought up in. His attention to obvious differences was soon accompanied by a growing awareness of perhaps less obvious, but crucial similarities, i.e., our shared and basic humanity. These thoughts about human nature make up another important part of the book’s narrative.
The third aspect that contributes to the book’s arguments connects back to James' childhood, when he started to sense life’s deep interdependencies through the time he spent on the farm or on excursions into the outdoors. Over the years his experiences with nature and his varied reading instilled in him an evolutionary view of technology’s development and humanity’s relationship with it.