The Broken Internet

Like many, I’ve encountered a spate of stories about the plagues of the Internet, easy to understand in this era of Cambridge Analtyica, trolling, fake news, and video bots.

New York Magazine rounded up a group of tech types (from within and without the Silicon Valley juggernaut, and with a range of political and economic ideologies).

A few quotes:

“Antonio García Martínez: I think Silicon Valley has changed. After a while, the whole thing became more sharp-elbowed. It wasn’t hippies showing up anymore. There was a lot more of the libertarian, screw-the-government ethos, that whole idea of move fast, break things, and damn the consequences. It still flies under this marketing shell of “making the world a better place.” But under the covers, it’s this almost sociopathic scene.”

Jaron Lanier: We wanted everything to be free, because we were hippie socialists. But we also loved entrepreneurs, because we loved Steve Jobs. So you want to be both a socialist and a libertarian at the same time, which is absurd.

Tristan Harris: We cannot afford the advertising business model. The price of free is actually too high. It is literally destroying our society, because it incentivizes automated systems that have these inherent flaws. Cambridge Analytica is the easiest way of explaining why that’s true. Because that wasn’t an abuse by a bad actor — that was the inherent platform. The problem with Facebook is Facebook.

A long way from the idealistic global network of the Internet or the Web in the 90s, so hopeful, and in retrospect the briefest of golden ages.

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