The Rhetoric of Big Tech

Sunday, January 31, 2021

What Is It

Big tech is known for its "disruption" of established industries and changing fundamental aspects of our lives from shopping and delivery to communication and transit. While many welcome these changes, there are also worries about privacy, fairness, and deregulation. So how do tech companies think about what it is they are doing and what justifies it? Who are their philosophical sources, and do they use them responsibly? What role does New Age thinking, Ayn Rand, Martin Heidegger, and even Samuel Beckett play in shaping the rhetoric of big tech? Josh and Ray debug the code with Adrian Daub from Stanford University, author of What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley.

Comments (4)


Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 -- 5:30 AM

Was beginning to think I was

Was beginning to think I was the only person who still valued privacy. Noticed it came up in your trailer for this post. Daily, it seems, there are issues springing from 'social media' and enthusiasts who use it for all things lawful, unlawful and all points on that continuum. It is not a place for the naive and inexperienced. Recently, I responded briefly to your question on the overreach of science---see that post for my comment/question---. I think what we have with the rise of SM might stir a similar sentiment. Sure, we cherish free speech, freedom of expression generally. And although we are now policing most everything, including history, I wonder if there should be greater concern about how far our freedoms ought to go. As to the overreach matter, it is pretty clear we revel in it. I can neither see nor recommend a solution: we have dug the hole. We may as well crawl into it...

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, March 5, 2021 -- 9:27 PM

Big Tech has legitimate

Big Tech has legitimate business models now and going forward. We need to find the solutions that compliment humanity and public welfare. Big Tech has a role in those solutions. Many companies speak to this role already.

We have yet to harvest the benefits of quantum computing, nanotech, biology, material science and artificial intelligence. Once that is done we can settle just what a human being is. Already we are pseudo cyborgs with our phones. I'm not sure ultimately where this ends. Ecological issues are more important for sure. Tomorrow is not going to be anything like today... and yesterday will be a faint memory.

I'm not sure what is best. Neither does Big Tech. Neither does Xi or Putin or Brin or Gates. There is no golden path here. Only human beings. Let's be kind, productive and as true to ourselves as we can. There are too many problems to overcome to blame any one entity.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, April 12, 2021 -- 5:54 AM

I think we agree on your

I think we agree on your final point. I have called the conundrum a totality of circumstances. And, I think there are many seeming marvelous developments which, in more or less time, come back to bite us in the butt. Unwitting overreach, as it might be characterized. More than once the argument has been proffered: are we to do things, just because we can? That's a pessimist's stance. Still, it appears to me that know-how often overrides the better angels of our narure, leaving us with metaphorical bullet holes in our feet. Just sayin'.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Wednesday, April 14, 2021 -- 11:14 PM

Yes, I do think we agree on a

Yes, I do think we agree on a/the conundrum. I look at my fellow humans now, the next generation, and what is left of my elders and we are a different breed than in my youth. We don't think the same, act the same. We are changing. I'm hesitant to call foul when I don't see where the path is leading us. Best to you Harold.