Why the tech world struggles with politics and geopolitics

by Chris Zappone

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Mark Zuckerberg (Wikicommons/Friesehamburg)

To be fair, it’s not just Mark Zuckerberg – but many in the tech world, who appear to misunderstand core realities and concerns around politics. This has been both an effect and cause of these titans operating with a free hand since the early days of the commercialized internet.

Starting at the 14.35 mark of this talk, I discuss the ideology of the tech world – both in Silicon Valley and the tech/privacy activist crowd in Western democracies.

The ideology, I believe, goes some way to explaining how a figure like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg can be so apparently unaware of the larger political, social implications of their tech creations.

An excerpt from the talk:

The problem then is that the communitarian ethos of the tech world is by preference, philosophically separated from broader issues of society and politics.

In this way, when WikiLeaks began to use information hacked by Russia to try to tip the [2016] US election, many, too many in the tech world seemed to view this not as an assault on a democracy but the actions of one person, Julian Assange, against the reputation of another set of individuals, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, among others.
In other words, it was just the individual fates of networked individuals.

Another example: Mark Zuckerberg’s pledge to “defend against interference by nation states” as one of his personal challenges for the year.

While it’s great the Facebook founder now recognizes the problem, casting it as a “personal challenge” fundamentally misses the public nature of the threat.

It also exposes how deeply ingrained in the culture this thinking is in the tech world.
Russia’s use of Facebook to thwart US democracy is a problem affecting the whole. It’s affecting not just social media – but society.

The communitarian libertarian streak in the tech world simply doesn’t allow for this reality.

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