Luddite Online

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Silicon Valley and Amorality

Within recent memory, people respected those who achieved success through hard work. Similarly, not so long ago, cool  was how we described those who could pull us out of sad, abusive, toxic places and make us feel good again. The Wide World of Sports, once an American tradition in sports broadcasting, began its weekly program by reminding us why we enjoy sports: the ennobling of the human spirit is personified by "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" [(1961). Wide world of sports. Television series. American Broadcasting Corporation.]

The corrupt, money-worshiping, morally bankrupt influence of 1980's Wall Street culture in which the victory of greed by means of cutthroat competition is the only thing that gets respect ended all of that. Amid all the decay and degeneracy, however, one bright spot has been the development of technology, with its promise of giving a voice and long-promised opportunity to otherwise oppressed, invisible, and powerless minorities. And to some degree, anyway, that has happened. Silicon Valley gave rise to the "irrational exuberance" of hordes of young entrepreneurs who responded to Google leadership's vow never to be evil.

Although Silicon Valley has been a relative paragon of virtue in the story of Twenty-first Century capitalism for so long, this story strikes a tragic if familiar chord. As a sign of the times, the IT industry's decision to embrace amorality at the expense of shareholders and the public trust may allow you to depersonalize your annoyance at inaccessible websites and the non-responsiveness of the Great Corporation. Let's hope the Google founders' pledge, "Don't be evil," has not been shredded with Enron Corporation's SEC filings: Silicon Valley's Culture of Amorality.

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