“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.”
-Philip K. Dick
With all the censorship happening from the Big Tech companies, there is an increasing fragility in the Blue Church narrative. The Silicon Valley echo chamber is a real thing. The social pressure there to conform to a specific narrative is so strong that Google fired software engineer James Damore for attempting to have a discussion about the topic. The Internet branded the mild-mannered engineer as a dangerous alt-right figure. The cancel culture is strong in the Valley.
The Big Tech companies have created a modern day Rat Park. If you look at the Googleplex, it looks like a kindergarten themed workplace paradise. I believe Google has good intentions in providing high salaries, solid benefits, a good work environment, free gourmet meals, and a private bus to bring employees from The City to their Mountain View headquarters. Happiness. However, this also creates a cognitive dissonance with the idea that the privileged 1% workers in the Silicon Valley castle in the sky are somehow also the champions of social justice and the representatives of the oppressed.
Google has not been able to increase diversity significantly since the Damore memo, and perhaps a better question should be, why do people want to work at Google? The original company motto, “Don’t Be Evil” isn’t exactly inspiring. “That’s a pretty low bar,” an attorney friend said to me once. Big Tech is attempting to wrangle a collective digital beast that is a reflection of our society by hiring the top computer scientists to craft algorithms, and outsourcing the hellish job of moderation to low wage workers.
Perhaps, we need to rethink why working at Google, Silicon Valley, Big Tech (or Wall Street for that matter) is an aspirational pinnacle of work. It sadly didn’t work out for Tony Hsieh, one of the most successful achievers in that space. Instead, can we figure out how, as a society, we can change our value system from maximizing monetization of data and algorithms to maximizing wisdom and the good of all?
How do we place more value on philosophers, poets, artists, builders, and creators rather than monetization optimizers? Big Tech empowers creativity and expression, but it’s charging far too high of a platform toll, and wields too much power in determining what is “not evil.”
Day 13: Create 2030 #GivingChristmas