Silicon Valley Dystopia

“The nation which most completely assimilates high-performance computing into its economy will very likely emerge as the dominant intellectual, economic, and technological force in the next century.” Al Gore, 1989

Fascinating expose by Max Chafkin of one of Silicon Valley’s top global influencers. The Silicon Valley I know is unveiled in this stark piece about a world much more representative of conservative venture capitalist Peter Thiel than hippie-turned-entrepreneur Steve Jobs. The culture evolved, and the vision is less about making the world a better place—- especially democratizing tech for the everyman. It’s about dog-eat-dog capitalism and subsuming whole nations under the spell of Big Tech. The book portends a technology takeover of life as we know it by a handful of brilliant sociopaths like Thiel who are good at making money and influencing government but lack empathy and appreciation for those whose ambitions and values differ.

The tech world trends towards decentralization but influence and power are stealthily held by kleptocrats and wealthy technologists like Peter Thiel. You are either in or out in the new Silicon Valley. Forces on the left and right sides of American politics can align to prevent this dystopian future where the average Joe or Jane becomes nothing more than someone’s product. Every click you make enriches a wealthy entrepreneur or emboldens a power-crazed politician, or feeds a database with your private data. Most likely, your clicks ensure all of the above if you use a platform like Facebook. I support capitalism but prefer an egalitarian society. The new Silicon Valley accelerates the digital division without doing more to help those ill-equipped to benefit.

Al Gore was right about technology’s eventual influence on nation-building, but the planning process for the inevitable rollout has fallen into the wrong hands with ulterior motives. This book review is a good preview of Chafkin’s book: Link

Watch out for the smartest guy in your boardrooms.