Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Valley Is Alive with the Sound of Whistleblowers - Standford Review

Industry veterans have begun to speak out about the negative externalities Silicon Valley products have on society. We, as consumers and creators, must recognize the valley’s concrete failures as well as the unforeseen and adverse effects its work has precipitated. The breadth and depth of industry whistleblowers’ expertise, experiences, and initiatives point to the severity of the problem. When former employees of today’s biggest tech companies form an alliance against the products they helped build, their word should be weighed heavily. While these individuals have not lost all hope, they contend that due to distorting business models, technology has veered away from its original intent to empower, and not simply monetize, humans.

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In October of 2017, John Naughton, a professor at the University of Cambridge, asserted that we “need a 21st-century Martin Luther to challenge the church of tech.” A former internet utopian, Naughton believes consumers have surrendered themselves to monetization by tech behemoths. He contends that our blind obedience to “the Church of Technopoly” is no different than Catholics ceding control to their authoritarian church 500 years ago. Having now launched his own 95 Theses about Technology, Naughton presents propositions about “the tech world and the ecosystem it has spawned.” He argues, amongst other things, that the technical is political, that Facebook is in fact not a community, and that surveillance capitalism undermines democracy. Naughton believes consumers of modern technology are “sleepwalking into a nightmare.” With his literature, he hopes to wake them up.

The Valley Is Alive with the Sound of Whistleblowers

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