Beyond the Valley

In search of a more democratic internet (from an academic’s perspective)…


Here’s a quick recap of Ramesh’s talk. Algorithms power the fastest growing companies. Tech companies monopolize and monetize exchanges. A handful of platforms and apps control nearly all of the world’s data. Here’s a popular slide he shared.

Silicon Valley tech leaders continue to determine technology access and user experiences for most of the world’s population. While good intentions drove them to success, the lack of awareness (and governance) of the unique needs of global cultures has resulted in cultural misappropriation and inefficient use cases. While most of us benefit from the new technologies, our data is being used against our future livelihoods, and for insane profits. Ultimately, the data will be codified to usurp our jobs. It’s already happening.

Ramesh portrays hope for an alternative tech universe focused on community, equality, and shared opportunities. He showcased some real breakthroughs of rural tech entrepreneurship —- mostly off the grid — insinuating that success is possible without being part of the global technology hegemony.

The viewpoint shared here is not entirely new. Populist movements have been railing against harm from the U.S. technology sector’s consolidation of power through data collection. Everyone from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump has expressed concerns. The least concerned appear to be the politicians controlled by the U.S. Tech lobby.

Some data issues are being addressed by GDPR and other government controls, but little has been done so far. We have embraced the Facebooks and Amazons of the world and given them all of our data. Yet, it’s frightening to think about indigenous populations, and what they might do to us if they made it across our borders. 😉

What if the same people were brilliant tech entrepreneurs trying to get us off the ‘grid’ as we know it?