— We have an obligation to care about the values of the people who run Google, because we’ve given Google enormous control over our lives and the lives of our children. As the former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris points out, “Without realizing the implications, a handful of tech leaders at Google and Facebook have built the most pervasive, centralized systems for steering human attention that has ever existed, while enabling skilled actors (addictive apps, bots, foreign governments) to hijack our attention for manipulative ends.”
— The future implications of a couple of companies’ having such deep influence on our attention and our behavior are only beginning to be felt. The rise of artificial intelligence combined with Google’s omnipresence in our lives is an issue that is not well understood by politicians or regulators.
— America is slowly waking up both culturally and politically to the takeover of our economy by a few tech monopolies. We know we are being driven by men like Peter Thiel and Jeff Bezos toward a future that will be better for them. We are not sure that it will be better for us.
— As George Packer, writing in The New Yorker in 2011, put it, “In Thiel’s techno-utopia, a few thousand Americans might own robot-driven cars and live to 150, while millions of others lose their jobs to computers that are far smarter than they are, then perish at 60.”
— Somehow the citizens of the world have been left out of this discussion of our future. Because tools like Google and Facebook have become so essential and because we have almost no choice in whether to use them, we need to consider the role they play in our lives.
— By giving networks like Google and Facebook control of the present, we cede our freedom to choose our future.