Facebook Employees Revolt Over Zuckerberg’s Hands-Off Approach To Trump, Twitter contrast

Needed backlash at what can only be described as business-motivated collusion, one that becomes harder and harder to justify from any perspective:

Facebook is facing an unusually public backlash from its employees over the company’s handling of President Trump’s inflammatory posts about protests in the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis.

At least a dozen employees, some in senior positions, have openly condemned Facebook’s lack of action on the president’s posts and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s defense of that decision. Some employees staged a virtual walkout Monday.

“Mark is wrong, and I will endeavor in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” tweeted Ryan Freitas, director of product design for Facebook’s news feed.

“I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up,” tweeted Jason Toff, director of product management. “The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”

The social network also is under intense pressure from civil rights groups, Democrats and the public over its decision to leave up posts from the president that critics say violate Facebook’s rules against inciting violence. These included a post last week about the protests in which the president said, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.

Twitter, in contrast, put a warning label on a tweet in which the president said the same thing, saying it violated rules against glorifying violence.

The move escalated a feud with the president that started when the company put fact-checking labels on two of his tweets earlier in the week. Trump retaliated by signing an executive order that attempts to strip online platforms of long-held legal protections.

Zuckerberg has long said he believes the company should not police what politicians say on its platform, arguing that political speech is already highly scrutinized. In a postFriday, the Facebook CEO said he had “been struggling with how to respond” to Trump’s posts.

“Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric,” he wrote. “I know many people are upset that we’ve left the President’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies.”

Zuckerberg said Facebook had examined the post and decided to leave it up because “we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.” He added that the company had been in touch with the White House to explain its policies. Zuckerberg spoke with Trump by phone Friday, according to a report published by Axios.

While Facebook’s 48,000 employees often debate policies and actions within the company, it is unusual for staff to take that criticism public. But the decision not to remove Trump’s posts has caused significant distress within the company, which is spilling over into public view.

“Censoring information that might help people see the complete picture *is* wrong. But giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless who you are or if it’s newsworthy,” tweeted Andrew Crow, head of design for the company’s Portal devices. “I disagree with Mark’s position and will work to make change happen.”

Several employees said on Twitter they were joining Monday’s walkout.

“Facebook’s recent decision to not act on posts that incite violence ignores other options to keep our community safe,” tweeted Sara Zhang, a product designer.

In a statement, Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne said: “We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community. We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership. As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”

Less than 4% of Facebook’s U.S.-based staff are African American, according to the company’s most recent diversity report.

Facebook will not make employees participating in the walkout use paid time off, and it will not discipline those who participate.

On Sunday, Zuckerberg said the company would commit $10 million to groups working on racial justice. “I know Facebook needs to do more to support equality and safety for the Black community through our platforms,” he wrote.

Source: Facebook Employees Revolt Over Zuckerberg’s Hands-Off Approach To Trump

And Kara Swisher’s call for Twitter to take Trump off the platform:

C’mon, @Jack. You can do it.

Throw on some Kendrick Lamar and get your head in the right space. Pour yourself a big old glass of salt juice. Draw an ice bath and fire up the cryotherapy pod and the infrared sauna. Then just pull the plug on him. You know you want to.

You could answer the existential question of whether @realDonaldTrump even exists if he doesn’t exist on Twitter. I tweet, therefore I am. Dorsey meets Descartes.

All it would take is one sweet click to force the greatest troll in the history of the internet to meet his maker. Maybe he just disappears in an orange cloud of smoke, screaming, “I’m melllllllting.”

Do Trump — and the world — a favor and send him back into the void whence he came. And then go have some fun: Meditate and fast for days on end!

Our country is going through biological, economic and societal convulsions. We can’t trust the powerful forces in this nation to tell us the truth or do the right thing. In fact, not only can we not trust them. We have every reason to believe they’re gunning for us.

In Washington, the Trump administration’s deception about the virus was lethal. On Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, the fat cats who carved up the country, drained us dry and left us with no safety net profiteered off the virus. In Minneapolis, the barbaric death of George Floyd after a police officer knelt on him for almost nine minutes showed yet again that black Americans have everything to fear from some who are charged with protecting them.

As if that weren’t enough, from the slough of our despond, we have to watch Donald Trump duke it out with the lords of the cloud in a contest to see who can destroy our democracy faster.

I wish I could go along with those who say this dark period of American life will ultimately make us nicer and simpler and more contemplative. How can that happen when the whole culture has been re-engineered to put us at each other’s throats?

Trump constantly torques up the tribal friction and cruelty, even as Twitter and Facebook refine their systems to ratchet up rage. It is amazing that a septuagenarian became the greatest exploiter of social media. Trump and Twitter were a match made in hell.

The Wall Street Journal had a chilling report a few days ago that Facebook’s own research in 2018 revealed that “our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness. If left unchecked,” Facebook would feed users “more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform.”

Mark Zuckerberg shelved the research.

Why not just let all the bots trying to undermine our elections and spreading false information about the coronavirus and right-wing conspiracy theories and smear campaigns run amok? Sure, we’re weakening our society, but the weird, infantile maniacs running Silicon Valley must be allowed to rake in more billions and finish their mission of creating a giant cyberorganism of people, one huge and lucrative ball of rage.

“The shareholders of Facebook decided, ‘If you can increase my stock tenfold, we can put up with a lot of rage and hate,’” says Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

“These platforms have very dangerous profit motives. When you monetize rage at such an exponential rate, it’s bad for the world. These guys don’t look left or right; they just look down. They’re willing to promote white nationalism if there’s money in it. The rise of social media will be seen as directly correlating to the decline of Western civilization.”

Dorsey, who has more leeway because his stock isn’t as valuable as Facebook’s, made some mild moves against the president who has been spewing lies and inciting violence on Twitter for years. He added footnotes clarifying false Trump tweets about mail-in ballots and put a warning label on the president’s tweet about the Minneapolis riots that echo the language of a Miami police chief in 1967 and segregationist George Wallace: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

“Jack is really sincerely trying to find something to make it better,” said one friend of the Twitter chief’s. “He’s like somebody trapped in a maze, going down every hallway and turning every corner.”

Zuckerberg, on the other hand, went on Fox to report that he was happy to continue enabling the Emperor of Chaos, noting that he did not think Facebook should be “the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.”

It was a sickening display that made even some loyal Facebook staffers queasy. As The Verge’s Casey Newton reported, some employees objected to the company’s rationale in internal posts.

“I have to say I am finding the contortions we have to go through incredibly hard to stomach,” one wrote. “All this points to a very high risk of a violent escalation and civil unrest in November and if we fail the test case here, history will not judge us kindly.”

Trump, furious that Dorsey would attempt to rein him in on the very platform that catapulted him into the White House, immediately decided to try to rein in Dorsey.

He signed an executive order that might strip liability protection from social media sites, which would mean they would have to more assiduously police false and defamatory posts. Now that social media sites are behemoths, Galloway thinks that the removal of the Communications Decency Act makes a lot of sense even if the president is trying to do it for the wrong reasons.

Trump does not seem to realize, however, that he’s removing his own protection. He huffs and puffs about freedom of speech when he really wants the freedom to be vile. “It’s the mother of all cutting-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face moves,” says Galloway.

The president wants to say things on Twitter that he will not be allowed to say if he exerts this control over Twitter. In a sense, it’s Trump versus his own brain. If Twitter can be sued for what people say on it, how can Trump continue to torment? Wouldn’t thousands of his own tweets have to be deleted?

“He’d be the equivalent of a slippery floor at a store that sells equipment for hip replacements,” says Galloway, who also posits that, in our hyper-politicized world, this will turn Twitter into a Democratic site and Facebook into a Republican one.

Nancy Pelosi, whose district encompasses Twitter, said that it did little good for Dorsey to put up a few fact-checks while letting Trump’s rants about murder and other “misrepresentations” stay up.

“Facebook, all of them, they are all about making money,” the speaker said. “Their business model is to make money at the expense of the truth and the facts.” She crisply concluded that “all they want is to not pay taxes; they got their tax break in 2017” and “they don’t want to be regulated, so they pander to the White House.”

C’mon, Jack. Make @realDonaldTrump melt to help end our meltdown.

Source: Think Outside the Box, Jack

 

Fox’s Fake News Contagion The network spent too long spraying its viewers with false information about the coronavirus pandemic.

Good commentary by Kara Swisher. Applies more broadly than COVID-19 but particularly dangerous during a pandemic:

You can relax, Sean Hannity, I’m not going to sue you.

Some people are suggesting that there might be grounds for legal action against the cable network that you pretty much rule — Fox News — because you and your colleagues dished out dangerous misinformation about the virus in the early days of the crisis in the United States. Some might allege that they have lost loved ones because of what was broadcast by your news organization.

But lawsuits are a bad idea. Here’s why: I believe in Fox News’s First Amendment right as a press organization, even if some of its on-air talent did not mind being egregiously bad at their jobs when it came to giving out accurate health data.

And, more to the point, when all is said and done, my Mom will listen to her children over Fox News. One of us — my brother — is an actual doctor and knows what he is talking about. And the other is a persistent annoyance — that would be me.

I’m a huge pest, in fact. “I’m going to block your number, if you don’t stop,” my mother said to me over the phone several weeks ago from Florida, after I had texted her the umpteenth chart about the spread of coronavirus across the country. All of these graphs had scary lines that went up and to the right. And all of them flashed big honking red lights: Go home and stay there until all clear.

She ignored my texts, so I had switched to calling her to make sure she had accurate information in those critical weeks at the end of February and the beginning of March. She is in the over-80 group that is most at risk of dying from infection. I worry a lot.

But she was not concerned — and it was clear why. Her primary source of news is Fox. In those days she was telling me that the Covid-19 threat was overblown by the mainstream news media (note, her daughter is in the media). She told me that it wasn’t going to be that big a deal. She told me that it was just like the flu.

And, she added, it was more likely that the Democrats were using the virus to score political points. And, did I know, by the way, that Joe Biden was addled?

Thankfully, Mom had not gone as far as claiming the coronavirus is a plot to hurt President Trump — a theory pushed by some at Fox News heavily at first. While she has been alternately appalled and amused by the president, and often takes his side, she is not enough of a superfan to think that he is any kind of victim here.

So, she kept going out with friends to restaurants and shopping and generally living her life as it always had been. “What’s the big deal, Kara? Stop bothering me,” she said over the phone. “You’re the one who is going to get sick, if you don’t stop working so much.”

Nancy Pelosi and Fakebook’s Dirty Tricks: This latest doctored video proves that Facebook as we knew it is over.

Hard to disagree:

So, Fakebook it is.

This week, unlike YouTube, Facebook decided to keep up a video deliberately and maliciously doctored to make it appear as if Speaker Nancy Pelosi was drunk or perhaps crazy. She was not. She was instead the victim of an obvious dirty trick by a dubious outfit with a Facebook page called Politics WatchDog.

The social media giant deemed the video a hoax and demoted its distribution, but the half-measure clearly didn’t work. The video ran wild across the system.

Facebook’s product policy and counterterrorism executive, Monika Bickert, drew the short straw and had to try to come up with a cogent justification for why Facebook was helping spew ugly political propaganda.

“We think it’s important for people to make their own informed choice for what to believe,” she said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “Our job is to make sure we are getting them accurate information.”

This is ridiculous. The only thing the incident shows is how expert Facebook has become at blurring the lines between simple mistakes and deliberate deception, thereby abrogating its responsibility as the key distributor of news on the planet.

Would a broadcast network air this? Never. Would a newspaper publish it? Not without serious repercussions. Would a marketing campaign like this ever pass muster? False advertising.

No other media could get away with spreading anything like this because they lack the immunity protection that Facebook and other tech companies enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 was intended to spur innovation and encourage start-ups. Now it’s a shield to protect behemoths from any sensible rules.

Mr. Cooper must be less accustomed than some of us to the way Silicon Valley tortures the concept of free speech until it screams for mercy, because Ms. Bickert’s answer left him looking incredulous.

By conflating censorship with the responsible maintenance of its platforms, and by providing “rules” that are really just capricious decisions by a small coterie of the rich and powerful, Facebook and others have created a free-for-all with no consistent philosophy.

The Chewbacca mom video is sure fun, and so are New York Times articles, because classy journalism looks good on the platform. But the toxic stew of propaganda and fake news that is allowed to pour into the public river without filters? Also A-O.K., in the clearly underdeveloped mind of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has been — try as he might with great earnestness — guiding his ship into dangerous waters.

Don’t believe me? Listen to what came out of his mouth during a podcast interview with me less than a year ago, a comment that in hindsight makes his non-action against the Pelosi video look completely inevitable. We had been talking about the vile Alex Jones, whom Mr. Zuckerberg had declined to remove from Facebook despite his having violated many of its policies. (This month Facebook finally did bar him from the platform). For some reason, presumably to make a greater point, he shifted the conversation to the Holocaust. It was a mistake, to say the least.

“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”

I was shocked, but I wanted to hear more, so I said briefly: “In the case of Holocaust deniers, they might be, but go ahead.”

Did he ever: “It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly. I’m sure you do. I’m sure a lot of leaders and public figures we respect do too, and I just don’t think that it is the right thing to say, ‘We’re going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times.’’

Here was the internal dialogue in my head when he uttered this senseless jumble of words: What? What? What? Mr. Zuckerberg’s own pile of dumb mistakes were the same thing as anti-Semitic lies? The same as the calculatedly demented rantings of Mr. Jones? The same as the wily manipulations of Russia’s Internet Research Agency?

It was at that moment that I knew that Facebook was lost. And it’s been wandering ever since from one ethical quandary to the next. From the outside, the company can seem lazy and cynical, out to make money at the expense of just about anything or anyone, including Speaker Pelosi or an informed national electorate. It feels political too, as if its executives are making calculations based on nothing but what will keep the company free from trouble in these deeply partisan times.

And yet Facebook does remove content, such as posts it determines are a threat to public safety or from fake accounts.

Ms. Bickert, whom I have interviewed too and who certainly has made an effort to tame the platform, gamely tried to make this point to Mr. Cooper. “We aren’t in the news business. We’re in the social media business,” she said plaintively, as if that distinction could erase a thousand crimes taking place on the platform every day.

Not making these hard choices won’t work: The many indignities of being a Facebook user are making the platform a worse and worse place to be. So far, that has yet to infect the business itself, which is making money and continues to grow. But without a steadier hand at the wheel, Facebook cannot outrun a simple fact: It’s still Fakebook, and we already know how that story will end. Badly.

Fasten your seatbelt, Peter Thiel, it’s going to be bumpy for Trump in Silicon Valley! – Recode

More strong commentary by Kara Swisher on Silicon Valley finding its spine and its contrarian, Peter Thiel:

So I thought my column this week would be a fun one, focused on the what-the-f&#k article last week in the New Yorker about some deeply narcissistic tech titans — are there any other kind? — who are “prepping” for the apocalypse by hoarding gold, stashing weapons and even buying spreads in remote places to hide.

Aside from commenting on their base inanity and deep selfishness, I even had the best joke to impart that one techie told me:

In the event of doomsday, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is I have a bunker in New Zealand. The bad news? Peter Thiel is my neighbor.

Ahahaha. Imagining the end times spent with the quirky tech investor — who does, in fact, have one of those Kiwi escape pods — is certainly surreal. But it’s not much more bizarre than Thiel’s response this weekend as he tried mightily to spin an epic fib he told last year about President Donald J. Trump.

It took place in the question-and-answer part of a speech in D.C. that Thiel delivered in late October about his support of Trump, after a reporter asked him about the Muslim ban threat the candidate had clearly made.

As I reported then:

“The media is always taking Trump literally,” says Peter Thiel, while his supporters take him “seriously.” Well, thank goodness Peter Thiel is here to translate words that are said by someone who may be running the most powerful country in the world. He’s just kidding! Sort of! Not really again, but another nice pivot.

Dear Peter Thiel: Words. Matter. A. Lot. Look at me writing them down here on my keyboard.

I was being quite sarcastic then, because at the time I thought that Trump very much meant to do exactly as he said and that Thiel was either very stupid or very disingenuous for pretending otherwise.

Let me state for the record, I do not think Peter Thiel is very stupid.

But a fabulist? Well, let’s fast-forward to this weekend, when Thiel tried to launch another whopper in a pathetic attempt to defend Trump’s appalling executive order to bar the entry of refugees and also travelers from seven Muslim nations into the U.S.

A Thiel spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that “Peter doesn’t support a religious test, and the administration has not imposed one.”

Oh. Peter. Words. Still. Matter. A. Lot.

So please, for the love of Facebook, stop manipulating those words when everyone can see the real-life actions and consequences they have resulted in.

More to the point, every time you open your mouth, you look more and more like you got played by Steve Bannon and his army of hobgoblins to the detriment of tech leaders whom you somehow got to bow and scrape to the new administration.

It was bad enough that you pulled off that frightful kumbaya by trooping the most powerful people in Silicon Valley into Trump Tower for what amounted to a photo op for Trump and managed to get them to do so without uttering a word about key issues at the core of tech, like immigration. I called them “sheeple” at the time for doing that and staying silent, with you as their unlikely shepherd.

Now worse, you have dragged your pals, like tech icon Elon Musk and Uber’s Travis Kalanick, onto the president’s advisory council, with the promise that engagement with Trump will give them the chance to change his mind.

Not so, as it turns out, since they now look like quislings in the wake of the immigration disaster. After asking for suggestions on Twitter this weekend of how to approach Trump later this week on the ban, they are getting pilloried on social media for even being affiliated with the whole sorry mess.

…As for the vast majority of tech leadership and pretty much all of their employees, they are now making a break for the wall-free border with the government’s capricious and ill-conceived crackdown on immigrants and refugees.

The burn started slowly on Friday, with muted opposition largely focused on the impact on their workforces. Only a few strong voices, such as the very brave Reed Hastings of Netflix, made powerful moral statements about the Trump order.

Hastings’s this-shall-not-stand tone was infectious, as it turned out. By the end of the weekend, techies were ratcheting up the volume by the hour with increasingly more emotional, moral-high-ground statements, as well as offers of gobs of money (Google, Lyft, Uber and high-profile techies like Chris Sacca and Tony Faddell), food (DoorDash) and even homes (Airbnb).

Google founder Sergey Brin’s appearance at San Francisco International Airport was a heartening visual of that. While he said he was there as a refugee and not as a rep for the search giant, his presence spoke volumes about the way this was headed.

I knew that would be the case after I tweeted this note below late Friday night and it quickly started to garner a plethora of responses, including from some prominent techies, all of whom wanted in.

That included Laszlo Bock, former head of Google People Ops, who wrote: “former tech leader here, but still 100 percent against excluding people from our nation based on religion, origin, etc.”

It went on like that as opposition to the Trump immigration order has grown and I expect it to do so even more, as those very rich and very powerful and very influential tech companies start to act like they actually have money, power and influence. And, thank goodness, some of the loudest people on earth finally realize they have a very loud voice.

Behind the scenes, where all the real stuff happens, I am told the political arm-twisting has commenced and that there are a number of joint efforts that are under way. We’ll see how effective and long lasting they are, especially since there are many things tech wants from the Trump administration, as I have outlined before.

But given Trump has literally made good on several of his more heinous campaign promises that everyone thought he would not, I think cooperation between tech and Trump is going to be rarer than more opposition.

For example, what of Trump’s hard-line stance in the campaign on encryption or his appointment of very anti-net neutrality FCC chairman Ajit Pai? Neither will be easy to find common ground on.

And just today, Bloomberg is reporting another executive order being drafted focused on work visas that tech companies depend on, which will have a big impact on how critical talent is recruited. According to the report, “companies would have to try to hire American first and if they recruit foreign workers, priority would be given to the most highly paid.”

Well, that’s not going to go over well at Coupa Cafe in Palo Alto. No, no. no. (Fly-on-the-wall dream: I’d love to be in the boardroom at Facebook, where Peter Thiel is a director, to hear him explaining this one away.)

More: I was at a chock-full event in Palo Alto last week, as tech types planned their attack on the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the reinstatement of the global gag rule by Trump and the GOP that restricts foreign aid to those organizations that reference abortions in family planning. It was a move that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg spoke out against last week. “We don’t have to guess,” she wrote, noting that the move is a disaster for women globally. “We know what this will do.”

What else? Well, now there are rumors that Trump could sign another executive order aimed at restricting advances in rights made by gays and lesbians, such as allowing people to refuse to do business with them due to religious objections (expect federal legislation here too). And, earlier this week, press secretary Sean Spicer said, “I don’t know,” when asked if Trump would rescind a Barack Obama executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.

Given tech leaders have been very vocal in their support of gay issues, which are important to their employees, if Trump does any of this, it should go off like a Roman candle in Silicon Valley.

I’ll be curious what Thiel, who is now famously gay after his speech at the Republican National Convention this summer, will say about it if that comes to pass. I am guessing declaring that “Peter doesn’t support anti-gay orders, and the administration has not imposed one” will not work quite as well the second time around.

And neither will Silicon Valley not taking Trump both seriously and literally anymore. Because these are serious times and we need serious people who will literally be compelled to act and speak out on all this and more. (And if you think I am going to stop nagging you all, you should ask my kids how that goes.)

It’s probably a bummer for many of tech’s leaders that car execs or finance types or Hollywood moguls are not held to this high standard. In fact, the New York Times’ Mike Isaac tweeted about that yesterday.

Hell is Silicon Valley people who won’t grow up – Recode

Kara Swisher on the Silicon Valley mentality and denial of some of the negative effects of technology:

Did Silicon Valley, which has reaped the rewards of this system by amassing startlingly enormous piles of wealth, imagine that all this would not eventually have to be paid for by someone?

Or as Trump’s main digital guru, investor Peter Thiel, has written: “In a world of scarce resources, globalization without new technology is unsustainable.”

As most regular readers know, Thiel is not someone I agree with often, given his disturbingly cavalier attitude toward a lot of values and standards I think are inviolate. (Don’t sue a publisher out of business secretly for personal reasons and then brag that you love journalism. Check!)

But in this, Thiel is correct: The results of tech have been and will continue to be devastating to too many in the general populace. So it would be nice if Silicon Valley could take that sentiment to heart as the days and years that stretch ahead look ever more serious and more fraught by all the technologies that have been created over the last two decades.

And, more to the point, things that technology is creating now are certain to result in even more unrest as they intensify. The questions that need to be asked are many and include:

What happens to all the many jobs that will be impacted by self-driving technologies, given so much of our population makes its living driving and transporting? While it may be for the best in terms of energy savings and the ending of needless human-caused accidents, is anyone developing in this arena thinking about its repercussions on existing jobs or scoping out what new jobs can be created?

It’s the same thing with a slate of on-demand or home-rental tech, the impact of which are too often shrugged off as “negative externalities,” which is a great euphemism for terrible things. Something can be both promising and also devastating at the same time, so try hard to take both things in.

What about acceleration of robotic technologies in factories and through the system from restaurants to retailers to banks to healthcare and more? While it is entirely clear these changes have a myriad of advantages, who in Silicon Valley is thinking about the job loss and what to do about this? (A salient point made to me in my Recode Decode podcast this week by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who noted, “people who worry about Mexicans [taking away their jobs], should worry about robots.”)

And, of course, who is assessing what will happen with leaps in artificial intelligence and the potential for replacement of many service jobs. from legal work to accounting to, yes, journalism? Will, as Elon Musk told me in an interview, humanity become mere “house cats” of the technologies? (Even if the food is good and the litter is fresh, do we want to become house cats?)

I am not heartened that anyone in the high echelons of tech is thinking about any of this in a consistent and systematic way, largely from the reaction so far.

Calls for California to secede from the U.S. — fyi, we’ll need a lot more firepower than what comes from servers to do that — come only because figuring out what’s next is really hard.

Murmurs that Silicon Valley companies might place a token manufacturing facility in the U.S. to shut Trump up seems not really profound enough to make a true difference.

Memos and quotes saying techies will not create appalling things like Muslim registries are great, but do not address what they will do in cooperation with an administration bent on destroying many, many more core values of this industry.

And tramping up to Trump Tower en masse to talk about a variety of the expected topics while saying nothing in order to get things for the present seems very short-sighted indeed. (Kudos for Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg for bringing up women and minorities, but only Alphabet’s Larry Page had a truly unusual idea about changing the electrical grid — more on that soon.)

It all reminds me of the vision that tech continues to reflect about itself as a place of fresh ideas and newness at all times. To my mind, which I often say — hat tip to investor Pejman Nozad — Silicon Valley is still a place of big minds chasing small ideas.

It’s often referred to as a Peter Pan mentality, in which its denizens are trying to remain forever young in a land of perpetual boyhood, making things like photo apps and social media and new ways to play old video games.

Personally, I think there is a far more sinister comparison to another fairy tale, that of Pinocchio’s transformation into a jackass on Pleasure Island. It’s a place where boys are indulged with endless fun until it becomes clear that there is actually a price for all that indulgence.

It also reminds me of another thing Sartre wrote: “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”

Well, Silicon Valley, it’s finally time to pay up and admit that you are not forever young. More importantly, you need to stop acting like you aren’t powerful or that you don’t have huge businesses and, most of all, that you just can’t fix big problems because it’s super-duper hard. You’ve been part of creating this mess and you should absolutely be part of fixing it.

Source: Hell is Silicon Valley people who won’t grow up – Recode

As Trumplethinskin lets down his hair for tech, shame on Silicon Valley for climbing the Tower in silence – Recode

Quite an amazing take-down by Kara Swisher:

When I call these top leaders — of course, it has to be off the record — I get a running dialogue in dulcet tones about needing to cooperate and needing to engage and needing to be seen as willing to work together. Also that Trump means very little of what he says out loud — which I will now officially dub the Peter Thiel take-it-seriously-not-literally defense. And they assure me that they will say what they really think behind closed doors where no one can hear it but each other.

This, even though it will be a certainty that Trump will tweet the whole thing with his doubtlessly warped take of the proceedings. My only hope is that often-erupting Tesla and SpaceX’s Elon Musk — who is also now attending — will also erupt when he realizes the farce he has agreed to be part of.

Or maybe I don’t get it because I am of the old school that when something smells fishy, there is probably a dead fish somewhere to be found. But to my ear, it’s a symphony of compromise, where only now and then a sour note sounds from someone who breaks from the platitudes they are spewing.

Like one tech leader who suddenly stopped mid-sentence about how to really make deals, Kara, because the truth just had to be out. “Trump is just awful, isn’t he? It makes me sick to my stomach,” the leader agonized, as a real thinking person would. “What are we going to do?”

Well, to start, realize again that you have the smarts and invention and the innovative spirit to do whatever you like. Realize you have untold money and power and influence and massive platforms to do what you think is right. Realize that you are inventing the frigging future.

Instead, you’re opting to sit in that gilded room at Trump Tower to be told fake news is a matter of opinion and that smart people aren’t so smart and that you need to sit still and do what they say and take that giant pile of repatriated income with a smile.

Or you can say no — loudly and in public. You can resist the forces that are against immigrants, because it is immigrants who built America and immigrants who most definitely built tech. You can defend science that says climate change is a big threat and that tech can be a part of fixing it. You can insist we invest in critical technologies that point the way to things like new digital health inventions and transportation revolutions. You can do what made Silicon Valley great again and again.

When I could get no really substantive on-the-record statements from the tech leaders, I pinged investor Chris Sacca, because I knew he would not let me down.

“It’s funny, in every tech deal I’ve ever done, the photo op comes after you’ve signed the papers,” he said. “If Trump publicly commits to embrace science, stops threatening censorship of the internet, rejects fake news and denounces hate against our diverse employees, only then it would make sense for tech leaders to visit Trump Tower.”

He added: “Short of that, they are being used to legitimize a fascist.”

The fascist line is vintage Sacca, who always likes to kick up a shitstorm. But thank god someone is willing to do it, because that is what I thought Silicon Valley was all about.

Not any longer, it seems. Welcome to the brave new world, which is neither brave nor new. But it’s now the world we live in, in which it’s Trump who is the disrupter and tech the disrupted.

Source: As Trumplethinskin lets down his hair for tech, shame on Silicon Valley for climbing the Tower in silence – Recode