Amerika

Silicon Valley: New Boss, Same As The Old Boss, But With More Power Over Our Lives

People are suckers for a revolution. If a revolution happens, in their minds it means that everything that went before was bad which by the converse principle, implies that everything “the people” were doing was good; the people were simply victims of the bad. It explains away their failures and omissions, and gives them license to seize whatever they could not have before.

And to think, people once doubted that we had origins among ancestors of the apes. We are just monkeys underneath the clothes, vocabulary, technology, social pretense and fancy theories. Monkeys are forgivable because they at least do not erect layers of deception around their raw self-interest and essentially venal, opportunistic mentality. Humans just bury it in justifications and rules.

Silicon Valley — this term can be used broadly to represent the technology revolution, especially its post-internet variety — promised a revolution. Old business was manipulative and inefficient, so they would do it better, they promised. And yet, twenty-five years into the process, we are seeing not better but slight improvement coupled with a more powerful version of the bad bosses of decades ago.

Let’s review some of the comedy along these lines from this week.

First, we have Google with some dubious “do as I say, not as I do” behavior regarding women in the workforce:

The DoL has accused Google of systematically underpaying women, and the court battle centers on the company’s refusal to hand over salary data the government has requested.

The motion for a dismissal – which a judge rejected, in part citing the first amendment – sheds light on Google’s aggressive efforts to end the case at a time when the tech industry is facing increasing criticisms over sexist workplace cultures, gender discrimination and widespread pay disparities. Critics said it appeared that Google was attempting to limit media scrutiny with unusual tactics that raise free press concerns and seem to contradict the corporation’s public claims that it is committed to transparency and accountability in its efforts to promote equal pay.

Google also attempted to restrict press access during a hearing last month. Following a private meeting with the judge about the Guardian’s reporting, Google’s attorney requested that the proceeding be closed to the media before continuing, but a DoL attorney objected and the judge sided with the government.

Not very promising, but probably nothing in comparison to Google’s position as editor and censor of what people see, hear and believe. Most internet searches — some say up to 90% worldwide — are run through Google.

When Google drops a site, it falls into a black hole where no one sees it unless they go looking for it, and since other sites are penalized for linking to it, that group gets smaller and smaller. How powerful is Google? A recent anecdote by hacker and nationalist Weev shows how Google pagerank is more important than trademark or even advertising dollars:

They trademarked the name “Weev”, which I have been using since I was 10 years old, built a social video app, and dozens of celebrities were given money and shares in the company in exchange for using the app.

…I would delay every troll operation I wanted to do until they were spending serious money and resources to try to dig themselves out of a pagerank hole. Whenever they would drop deep into the second page of Google results (where they might as well not even exist) they would try to do another press push and garner backlinks.

…In 2016, after three years of an entire team of people working fulltime, a few million dollars in funding wasted, dozens of physical events they threw in meatspace, and repeated humiliation at the hands of a single neo-Nazi blogger, the Weev app closed up shop forever.

This is what one man — albeit a creative and knowledgeable one — can do with an internet connection and a few thousand dollars. But what about Google, who can simply alter an algorithm, which is not made public, and drop whole sites from the internet? Or appoint a proxy like Wikipedia, who censors any right-wing information and crowds the top five search results on many topics?

If anyone else were doing it, we would recognize this as censorship by monopoly.

This leads to the question of what Google might be censoring. We know the company leans Left because their Google doodles tend to celebrate minor Left-wing figures in preference to major Right-wing ones, and the company’s public statements suggest a social justice mentality pervades the organization.

And now, we have some data on how Google is using its market power to quash conservatives:

The former Chairman and CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes, has passed. He was arguably one of the most consequential individuals in media and politics in the last century, and he leaves behind a loving wife and son. He also leaves behind a cadre of loyal former employees who love and respect him.

But if you run a Google search on him, you’ll find that the top results consist almost entirely of articles from several liberal publications savaging his reputation as a person. The search results — both on mobile and desktop platforms — begin with entries that are strikingly cruel and meanspirited — and raise new questions about Google’s objectivity.

Why do companies lean Left? Right now, the Left is the dominant ideology; for the last century, the West has moved further and further Left to the point where a moderate view of fifty years ago would be considered “far right” now. The goalposts have moved, the Overton window shifted, and the Left has used this to marginalize conservative viewpoints.

It seems Google is doing the same thing. Not only that, but European governments are putting pressure on Google and other social media — Google’s PageRank rewards the popularity of links, not their content, so might be seen as early social media — to remove “hate speech” and other non-Leftist facts and opinions.

We know this is commonplace because companies like Reddit edit content all the time, and social media companies are planning to expand into mind-computer links which allow people to navigate social media with their thoughts, raising the question of social media will use your thoughts for advertising purpose and possibly, influence them in turn:

Facebook is at least at the moment not able to assure users that their brain activity will not be appropriated to sell ads. This is of course not an indication that the company will do this, only that they are not prepared to rule it out. And to be sure, this is still a hypothetical — it’s possible the company’s neural keyboard will remain somewhere between vaporware and marketing stunt, as has been the case with its solar-powered flying internet relay, or Amazon’s national delivery drone fleet.

A handful of sites control most of the traffic on the web, and their tendency is to be good Leftists and censor or at least bury opposing sources. At the same time, they are expanding to take over even more of our daily lives, putting us at the mercy of them and their ideological overlords.

On top of that, these technologies already work as digital bullies that enforce conformity and lower self-esteem among the young and probably, the rest of us:

Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young people’s mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health organisations.

…The survey, published on Friday, concluded that Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are also harmful. Among the five only YouTube was judged to have a positive impact.

The four platforms have a negative effect because they can exacerbate children’s and young people’s body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep problems and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness, the participants said.

Despite being billed as the great liberator of human thought, under the crushing weight of trends and what most people seem to prefer it to be, it has been converted into a new form of the Old Media, just as controlling of our minds and controlled by Leftist dogma, and it plans only to expand further until it crowds out everything else, achieving consensus through propaganda.

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