Silicon Valley Could Use a Good Skeptic

For all the talk of saving the world, the techies of Silicon Valley tend to practice a most savage form of capitalism. The law on the SF peninsula is to kill or be killed, industrially speaking. The big players seek monopoly and it's basically by any means necessary - suffocating market share, through aggressive acquisition, leveraging venture capital firms against each other - whatever, however, and so be it. And your employment is at will. 
  
For all the talk of transparency, Silicon Valley functions within a walled off corporatism. They might've torn out the cubicles, but the tech industry doesn't move without investor pools being in it to win it. Not that there is anything wrong with this. But don't get it twisted: ambition is the driving virtue. The prize is reaching your payday and then being able to write your own story.  
  
"Revolution" is a buzzword in Silicon Valley and it's hype. The hype asks for your best self, and it demands a certain level of myopia to sell it forward day after day. Most of us won't get there; we won’t be celebrated for our best self and asked for our glorified story about a well-lived dream. But don’t despair as we can always search the discount bins of soon to be obsolete smart device accessories for a shoulder to cry on.  
  
For all the mythologizing about how Founders sacrifice and strike forth from humble origins, Silicon Valley is a leading contributor to the growing wealth gap. Tech money dominates the Bay Area, and it’s the money that most people love. The notion of lifting the next Founder by the bootstraps is a comfortable first world conceit. Silicon Valley often sets goals that are noble, and exciting, but most of the talk about social engineering and AI is just ultra modern megalomaniacal BS. Where are the skeptics?  
  
Let's cure cancer before jobbing out radical new ways to make life more according to our whims. Let's innovate ways that allow the elderly to age with dignity before we lionize another leader in a hoodie and cargo shorts. It's a Halloween costume for Crissakes! Let's out-economize the factory farm and big box store before we pretend the next round of venture capital will transform reality as we know it.  
  
The world is changing and quickly. Sure, techie assholes have something to do with it, no doubt. Let me be clear: I'm not down on technology. My iPhone has more computer than what orchestrated the moon landing. I use a handful of smart devices like a pragmatist. My issue is more about the lack of challenge put to venture capitalists that start taking on a God complex after rolling a lucky strike or two. I hate the spawning of imitators that vast wealth inspires. I have contempt for Gatekeepers that can’t resist the marketing. Silicon Valley could use a good skeptic. 

1 comment

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