I fully admit that I was desperately trying to get myself hired in the tech boom of the 1990’s. I knew that things were poised to shift dramatically and I wasn’t about to miss out. Of course, I started in computer programming in the 90’s at NYU. I was well aware of the bro misogyny, the racism etc. But I figured that even with those issues, skill and competence would be valued in the merit based wonderland of Silicon Valley. Well. So here we are, 30 years into the tech transformation of the world and… tech philosophy has created so many serious threats to Democracy across the world that I’m entirely sure we can’t afford to let them believe they are a meritocracy that can regulate themselves.
Today’s article in the NY Times just cements that these are bad people, in a bad culture, with bad leaders. Silicon Valley’s Safe Space talks about Slate Star Codex, a blog that became very popular with the in tech crowd that was focused on Rationalist discourse. And of course, it was bigoted as HELL.
“Slate Star Codex was a window into the Silicon Valley psyche. There are good reasons to try and understand that psyche, because the decisions made by tech companies and the people who run them eventually affect millions. And Silicon Valley, a community of iconoclasts, is struggling to decide what’s off limits for all of us. At Twitter and Facebook, leaders were reluctant to remove words from their platforms — even when those words were untrue or could lead to violence. At some A.I. labs, they release products — including facial recognition systems, digital assistants and chatbots — even while knowing they can be biased against women and people of color, and sometimes spew hateful speech.”
For far too many in the tech world, they are so disconnected and so incapable of viewing minorities as people, they believe discussions on rights, access and equality to be simply a mental stimulation exercise. Even when they themselves are minorities, they align far too much to cis white patriarchy to combat the dangers it represents. To quote a woman who subsequently had to lock down her Twitter account for an obvious truth, Straight Black men are the white men of Black people. That extends to a lot of minority groups. For example, let’s look at what then general partner in Andreesen Horowitz, Balaji Srinivasan, said about doxing a journalist writing for Tech Crunch in 2013 on the links between Star Codex and Silicon Valley –
“If things get hot, it may be interesting to sic the Dark Enlightenment audience on a single vulnerable hostile reporter to dox them and turn them inside out with hostile reporting sent to *their* advertisers/friends/contacts,” Mr. Srinivasan said in an email viewed by The Times, using a term, “Dark Enlightenment,” that was synonymous with the neoreactionary movement. …”
Think about that. A general partner in a powerful investment firm saying that they should dox a journalist to protect their safe space to argue the pros and cons of whether women have the right temperament and intellectual heft for tech careers; if blacks have similar intellectual capacity; that affirmative action is anti-white men.
This blog is now gone. Deleted in the past, as people grew to understand the foul underbelly of Libertarian bigotry passed of as just Rationalist thinking from our best minds that has infused tech around the world. But… just because it’s gone from one space, doesn’t mean it’s really gone. The founder of Slate Star Codex is now on Substack with his old posts under a new name, Astral Codex Ten. I won’t link to it. He’s earning about $250k to do this. Have any of the people involved learned anything? No. They still think that we need to be able to discuss these disruptive ideas. So, neonazis, eugenicists, racists, misogynists should all have a platform so we can have a cozy discussion to weigh points. Except for social justice warriors who keep shutting down all this great rationalist discussion with reality. They need to stay out. Brave new future the tech world is building. Looks a lot like the autocratic past. We need to regulate tech. Fast.