There used to be a time in Silicon Valley when entrepreneurs were doing their own thing: creating industries that destroyed others to benefit the user with better products at more affordable price. Technology was democratizing life and placing the power of knowledge in people’s hands. Questions that remained unanswered or forced a trip to the library were now as close to being authoritatively answered as the palm of your hand. Ask any question and it was likely that it had already been answered or you could find a community of like-minded individuals that were working on the answer.
Among these technologists, you found a variety of people: the solopreneur with the Asperger’s syndrome, the loners who lived to code – or mess with other people’s code, and the socially-conscious entrepreneur who wanted to save people as well as the planet. Companies were focused on outcomes, and not necessarily financial ones like the billion-dollar unicorns that sprang from a combination of technology and Wall Street greed.
Unfortunately, the progressive socialist democrats saw technology changing mindsets, changing behavior, and making the serious money that could result in political power. They also saw the darker sides of technology; the way to track people in real time or access their secrets. Secrets that could be turned into influence and political power.
So how best to tap this cornucopia of money and technological power?
Certainly most of the people involved in technology, especially those who grew up in Silicon Valley, were already liberals and somewhat politically aware. Google’s mantra was “Do No Evil” as they attempted to create meaningful order out of a multiplicity of websites. Life was good and there were few evildoers outside of hackers, crooks, and politicians. So politicians, being politicians, did what all politicians do: use the taxpayer’s money to buy access to technologists.
Like the snake whispering to Eve, promises of enlightenment to a new world and access to untold wonders … including purchases from the largest customer in the world, restrictions that preserve your business model and hobble your competitors, and above all, mandates that demand that your product be used by consumers.
And, thus technology was corrupted into weaponizing the “internet of things,” so-called smart devices that can report your actions and behavior to unknown government servers, to be analyzed for the type of deviance that can be taxed and/or fined.
Imagine the black box in your car reports your mileage for tax purposes, computes your speed in traffic zones to send automatically send ticket – or even debit your bank account? Imagine the law enforcement is looking for suspects and they use your cellphone location, information from an automated license plate reader, or even match-up information from a facial recognition system from a nearby hidden camera?
Imagine the government wants you to support one of their prime partners in political graft and corruption, the unions, and demands that your enterprise unionizes. Even though you protest that unions reward seniority over merit, the status quo over innovation, increasing wages and benefits without a corresponding increase in productivity, and onerous work rules that impact your headcount and run rate?
But, even worse than that – what if they are influenced by someone with more money, or at least willing to spend more money? In what court of competent jurisdiction can you seek relief when all of the incriminating – or in case you are the one being disadvantaged, exculpatory -- evidence disappears into the bit bucket?
Bottom line …
It is a truism that “if you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.” And, if you, the technologist, associate with corrupt politicians, you will yourself become corrupted to the point of no return, no defense, and no future.
We are so screwed.
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius