Cade Metz, Duke English Alum, Technology Correspondent

Headshot of English Alum Cade Metz

Cade Metz, Duke English alum and technology correspondent for the New York Times, took time out of his busy schedule for an interview with the English Department to discuss his experience as a Duke English major, his professional career path, and his new book, Genius Makers, which is scheduled to be released on today, Tuesday, March 16, 2021.   During the interview, Metz shares how he has managed to merge the humanities world and STEM into a profession he loves. 

Cade Metz graduated from Duke University in 1994 with an English degree.  Metz comes from a family of Duke Blue Devils, including parents and sisters who are also Duke alums.  His father studied Electrical Engineering as an undergraduate and graduate student at Duke, and his mother studied Economics at Duke while also always being an avid reader.  Metz credits his parents with his love for both English and technology.  He thanks his father for his curiosity about technology and engineering.  He shared that he got his love for books, movies, and writing from his mom.  

Metz correlates his experience merging traits inherited from each of his parents with his ability to also merge both the literary and technological worlds into a profession.  He states that although he has always been interested in programming, he feels that he possesses an English major’s sensibility.  Being a real reader led him to major in English.  During his time studying at Duke, Metz mixed mathematics and programming courses with his English course load.  He interned as a programmer at IBM as an undergrad. 

Metz shares that being an English major influenced his career in two primary ways. First, it taught him how to study human behavior and how words are pieced together, which he utilizes as a reporter and feature writer at the Times.  Second, he developed the sensibilities of a fiction writer; his honors thesis was a novella.   

What is one piece of advice you would give to an English major or someone considering English as their major? 

Metz notes, "Writing comes into play with any career, and majoring in English is a great way of learning about human behavior," a skill which he says he draws on daily in his line of work. "If majoring in English at Duke didn't prepare me for that, then I don't know what would prepare me," states Metz.   

After graduation, Metz moved to New York City where he began his career in the world of tech journalism.  His first job was as a researcher at PC Magazine.  After working in this role for six months, he landed a position as a writer for the magazine.  He worked there for a decade before moving to the West Coast to become a US Editor for The Register, a British Magazine. 

It was while working for the Register that he truly realized his love for "news” and his passion for covering the emerging world of technology and the people in it.  Metz believes that engineers are not written about often enough and are somewhat misunderstood.  His knowledge of technology comes from talking to people daily.  He remained in the role of US editor for the Register until he accepted a Senior Staff Writer position with Wired magazine.  His beat has focused on artificial intelligence over the last few years, starting while he worked at Wired; a lot has changed in this area over the last decade. 

In 2017 Metz began working for the New York Times in their San Francisco Bureau as a technology correspondent focused on the area of "emerging technology." He describes "emerging technology" as encompassing developments like artificial intelligence, driverless cars, robotics, and virtual reality.  Metz describes emerging technology reporting as looking at the people in Silicon Valley and how the technology they are developing is changing the world.  He states during the interview that he loves his job at the New York Times, and he feels that it is an ideal position for his passions and talents.   

When Metz is asked about articles he has written that are amongst his favorites, or that he wishes everyone had the opportunity to read, he points to two articles he wrote for the New York Times in 2020: 

Riding Out Quarantine With a Chatbot Friend: 'I Feel Very Connected' 
The New York Times, June 16, 2020 

An Algorithm That Grants Freedom, or Takes It Away 
The New York Times, February 7, 2020 
(Co-authored with Adam Satariano) 

Cover for English alum Cade Metz book "Genius Makers"

Duke English Alum Cade Metz's first book, Genius Makers, will be released on today.  Metz describes Genius Makers as a book that looks at the "neural network," learned patterns that artificial intelligence (AI) technologies utilize to evolve and generate content. The patterns an AI technology discovers allow that AI to understand natural language on a greater level.  He shares that his book focuses on a tiny group of idealistic people who believed in the idea of AI, even during a time when much of the world was skeptical; on how these individuals went on to work for some of the world's largest tech companies; and on how their thoughts and ideas have influenced the world for better or worse.  

During his interview for the English Department, Metz is asked to consider how being a journalist and an author differ.  He responds that most of his articles are between 1200 and 3000 words, a brevity which only provides a glimpse of a topic; however, authoring a book allows the writer to give the full picture to readers. Metz shares that his book allows him to define what AI really is for the average reader, because the average person has no idea. After all, it is often defined differently by different people.  He feels that his book utilizes these varied individuals' thoughts and ideas to explain to a general audience how they should really think about AI. 

Metz will be the featured speaker for a virtual talk sponsored by Duke Computer Science on Thursday, March 18, 2021.  During this talk, Metz plans to share stories about his time as an undergraduate at Duke, his academic studies, the path that led him to his position with The New York Times, and some insights regarding his book Genius Makers.  North Carolina State University History Professor Ross Bassett will lead the interview segment of this talk.   

Conversation with New York Times A.I. reporter Cade Metz on his new book, Genius Makers 

Date: Thursday, March 18, 2021 
Time: 7:00 p.m. 

Please contact Jennifer Schmidt at to be provided with access to this virtual meeting. 

A signed copy of Genius Makers will be raffled off during the talk.