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Is Silicon Valley Morally Bankrupt and Toxic?

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the only-in-the-nuclear-waste-district dept.

Businesses 469

concealment sends this quote from a post about how the goals of many tech companies are at odds with what's good for consumers: "Since I've been out of the Silicon-Valley-centered tech industry, I've become increasingly convinced that it's morally bankrupt and essentially toxic to our society. Companies like Google and Facebook — in common with most public companies — have interests that are frequently in conflict with the well-being of — I was going to say their customers or their users, but I'll say 'people' in general, since it's wider than that. People who use their systems directly, people who don't — we're all affected by it, and although some of the outcomes are positive a disturbingly high number of them are negative: the erosion of privacy, of consumer rights, of the public domain and fair use, of meaningful connections between people and a sense of true community, of beauty and care taken in craftsmanship, of our very physical well-being. No amount of employee benefits or underfunded Google.org projects can counteract that. Over time, I've come to consider that this situation is irremediable, given our current capitalist system and all its inequalities. To fix it, we're going to need to work on social justice and rethinking how we live and work and relate to each other. Geek toys like self-driving cars and augmented reality sunglasses won't fix it. Social networks designed to identify you to corporations so they can sell you more stuff won't fix it. Better ad targeting or content matching algorithms definitely won't fix it."

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469 comments

Huh? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812339)

I didn't know they voted Republican...

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

starworks5 (139327) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812359)

you dont have to be republican to vote for your corporate overlords

Documentary on Ayn Rand & Silicon Valley (2)

starworks5 (139327) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812477)

http://vimeo.com/38724174

Re:Documentary on Ayn Rand & Silicon Valley (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812795)

TL;DW

Re:Huh? (2, Informative)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812545)

...but it helps!

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812967)

you dont have to be republican to vote for your corporate overlords

Correct. As long as you are not limiting yourself by flagging yourself "right-wing" or "left-wing" along with some misguided pride for "your side" and contempt & ridicule for "the other side", people should be aware that both sides service mostly our corporate overlords, and mostly just pay lip service to us, the populace.

They might not succeed, except that our attention and need to hate 'somebody' will be directed by the hot-button topics which they drum up (and which they probably don't give the shortest flying fuck about).

For the umpteenth time... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812343)

Betteridge's law of headlines
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Betteridge's law of headlines is an adage that states:

  "Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no". ...
"The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bollocks, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_law_of_headlines [wikipedia.org]

As for the article's content:

A great discovery!
The author has finally also found out that their customers are the advertising firms, their 'users' are the product they sell.
Film at 11.

The rest is some pseudo-socialist rant.

Move along, nothing to see here.

Re:For the umpteenth time... (1)

Bushie07 (1826296) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812425)

GIVE THIS MAN POINTS~!

If the Silicon Valley is toxic ... (5, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812629)

... well ...

Please stop using the PC / Tablets / Smartphones - for many of the hardware were designed in Silicon Valley

Please stop using many of the software that you are using - including technologies that enable you to surf the Net

Without the Silicon Valley - and many of its offspring around the world - the author of TFA can whine all he wants, on a column on his local newspaper - if the editor of his local newspaper grant him a column, that is

Re:If the Silicon Valley is toxic ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812893)

He wouldn't even get that far. Even here in our backwater nowhere articles are submitted on the Internet for the "letters to the editor" section.

Re:For the umpteenth time... (4, Insightful)

Nostromo21 (1947840) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812923)

Why? He's an AC & an apathetic/cynical dimwit. Soulskill does well to remind us of our lost humanity & the soullessness our western society is headed towards, if not already there. Quoting bullshit wikipedia 'laws' at us also doesn't change the facts or change anything in actual fact.

In any case, SV is just a reflection & extension of our society as a whole, just another symptom of what may be the beginning of the end, if we're not past the point of no return already..??? (who says every discussion post can't end with a ? ? :)

Re:For the umpteenth time... (5, Insightful)

i_ate_god (899684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812529)

er... positing a question on a discussion forum is a generally acceptable way of starting a discussion on said forum

Re:For the umpteenth time... (5, Funny)

zieroh (307208) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812579)

Slashdot is a discussion forum?

Huh. Interesting.

Re:For the umpteenth time... (2)

wamatt (782485) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812787)

1. You are not a journalist
2. Your post was not a news article

Therefore,

>Slashdot is a discussion forum?

this is not a headline

Is Betteridge's law of headlines correct? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812845)

I think my subject line says it all. We need to make a headline out of that.

Re:For the umpteenth time... (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812851)

ok fine, I'll rewrite the headline for you.

Is Silicon Valley at all non-toxic and do they have any morals left?

Fixed it for you.

Jesus, dude... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812345)

Go live on a COMMUNE.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812355)

Yes.

We'll keep doing it until you stop.

The need for a basic income (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812473)

The Richest Man in the World: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p14bAe6AzhA [youtube.com]

A parable about robotics, abundance, technological change, unemployment, happiness, and a basic income.

The knol mentioned in the video has been moved here because Google Knol is shutting down: http://www.pdfernhout.net/beyond-a-jobless-recovery-knol.html [pdfernhout.net]

That parable and video was directly inspired by this:
"Structural Unemployment: The Economists Just Don't Get It"
http://econfuture.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/structural-unemployment-the-economists-just-dont-get-it/#comment-254 [wordpress.com]

Re:Obligatory (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812503)

This crap is so ridiculous. Article in short...

Company I worked at got bought by Google. They kept me on. Then Google wouldn't let me switch to a technical position since I wasn't a technical person. Jerks.

Google+ doesn't want me to use a handle. I'm a queer/transgender female so that's offensive.

I went back to school for something kinda technical and found out I hated it, so I quit school again. Still angry that Google didn't hire me for a technical position without any technical credentials.

After I quit, Google tried to hire me a few times for other stuff. How dare they.

I've since decided that ToS minutiae at unrelated companies and requiring people to use their names on a voluntary social network that nobody uses demonstrate that an entire industry / area is morally bankrupt and toxic. Corporations are evil corporationy corporations, so I started an open source gardening project... yay me.

Some day when Google learns to give me what I want for no reason, I'll take their offers more seriously and decide they're not evil anymore.

Seriously, wtf... a whole post just so someone can cry us a river? Some people are desperate for decent work, and it's borderline insulting to read entitled garbage like this.

Re:Obligatory (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812761)

Kill yourself, idiot.

Re:Obligatory (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812907)

So nothing to correct in the summary then?

If other people want what you want (4, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812373)

then it will happen. Companies that survive do so by providing something that people want and something that people will pay for (sometimes the two are split, like Facebook).

If other people don't want what you want, accept it, and don't blame Silicon Valley.

Re:If other people want what you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812571)

people are cattle. if you make it all shiny and bright, they'll believe they want it

Re:If other people want what you want (-1, Flamebait)

tbird81 (946205) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812635)

Why do you hate people so much? Why do you believe you are so superior to the rest of us?

My guess is that you're a sad nerd in his early twenties (I hope so) who is at university and is going through that cocky "I know everything" phase. I'f you're older than 25, then I suggest getting a fucking job.

Re:If other people want what you want (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812675)

Why do you hate people so much?

Ever ask Marc Pinkus his opinion of people?

Why do you believe you are so superior to the rest of us?

I didn't see that assertion in his comment. His point is sociopathic and cynical, but Zynga, Facebook, and Apple, just to name a few companies, all exploit end-user ignorance and a predilection for the shiny.

Is it broke? (3, Insightful)

malakai (136531) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812381)

Holy rant...

To fix it, we're going to need to work on social justice and rethinking how we live and work and relate to each other. Geek toys like self-driving cars and augmented reality sunglasses won't fix it. Social networks designed to identify you to corporations so they can sell you more stuff won't fix it. Better ad targeting or content matching algorithms definitely won't fix it

Here's another idea, it's not broke.

Re:Is it broke? (1, Insightful)

MattGWU (86623) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812455)

How do you figure?

Re:Is it broke? (4, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812615)

How do you figure?

Go watch TV. Then come back. We'll talk then........

Back? OK, notice how TV ransoms you shit? Like the news & weather, the plot twist, etc? Much of the web does not do this. Paywalls are going up some places, and other places (like this one) let you pay to be free of the damn ads. Let's say you pay for TV from cable or sat dish provider. They inject local ads into the stream to target you, so even if you pay for the service you have to pay additional to get the few "premium" channels that don't have commercials. Imagine if your ISP were inserting ads into the sites you visit. Some tried, I believe, it was a huge stink and they stopped... settling for DNS redirects (use a different DNS).

TV is only about AV media and only secondarily about information and interactive stuff, but the web isn't, nor are the companies presented. However, I think they do a better job than the old media has. I can barely stand to watch TV at all the commercials are so intrusive in comparison.

Re:Is it broke? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812475)

This story is nothing more than typical socialist cliches. Evil corporations. Evil capitalism. Look at how smart I am because I can quote marxist cliches.
Compare your "poor suffering" western/capitalist lives to those of people who didn't have a free market capitalist society. Infact, why dont all these marxists pack their things and move to Cuba, Venezuala or central Africa and that way they can live their dream.

Wow (1)

roninmagus (721889) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812395)

Bitter much? Get fired or something?

Do no evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812397)

There... I asked it.

Dude. It's your fault (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812401)

You were the one who wanted all this great content for free (as in beer). By "you", I mean the opinions expressed here on Slashdot, especially when the topic comes to copyrights and file sharing laws. Google and Facebook are doing things "the right way", by that reckoning, but yes there is the darker side of which you speak.

How is Google supposed to pay 30,000 engineers, 1M rack-mounted x86 systems, and still hit their quarterly earnings and revenue targets? And the same for Facebook.

Only Amazon has a traditional business model, but even they are leaders in mining content about their users as well as their traditional IP inventory.

Is this news? (1)

Bushie07 (1826296) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812407)

Cuz it doesn't feel like news. It feels like a gossip column.

This should be fun to watch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812411)

Revenge of the postmodern slashtards against someone who dares to say the emperor has no clothes.

Short answer no, (3, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812413)

Long answer yes, with a "but". They are no better nor worse then any other for profit venture. As soon as a company goes public, they are money making tools for the share holders.

Re:Short answer no, (5, Funny)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812525)

Well, I agree with the author. Tech is a malignant leech on society, unlike wholesome industries such as finance or insurance.

We need +1 Sarcastic!! (0)

wannabgeek (323414) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812941)

Seriously, we need +1 Sarcastic! Otherwise, some moron mods may downmod some very insightful comments because they don't get the sarcasm.

Re:Short answer no, (1)

AdamWill (604569) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812715)

Most Silicon Valley companies aren't public, and are instead money making tools for the venture capitalists. Which is, if anything, worse.

What this author is taking issue with is not this fact _per se_ but the unthinking embrace of anything new, revolutionary and 'disruptive' that comes out of Silicon Valley without any consideration of more humdrum, everyday concerns like law and order, privacy etc...

As someone who lives in the NYC tri-state... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812419)

Let me tell you, if you want to see toxic check out Wall St. and it's satellites in NJ and CT. At least Silicon Valley creates cool shit that make people productive and/or entertained. Wall Street produces nothing, it just sucks value out of the economy and puts it in overseas tax shelters. it sounds to me like you're burned out from living in the center of a capitalist vortex. Take some time off and go live in Massachusetts or Oregon or something and decompress. I would kill to work at a place like Apple. I don't care if it means 90 hour weeks, you got something more important to do than develop the next generation of computing technology?

Is Silicon Valley Morally Bankrupt and Toxic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812423)

yes

maybe Silicon Valley is no longer Silicon Valley (4, Interesting)

k6mfw (1182893) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812429)

Looking back to what it was 25 years ago, much of what it was no longer exists. There's lots of vacant buildings, don't know why they are building more.

Re:maybe Silicon Valley is no longer Silicon Valle (2)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812639)

Looking back to what it was 25 years ago, much of what it was no longer exists. There's lots of vacant buildings, don't know why they are building more.

Spot on. All the semiconductor manufacturing has gone to Asia, mainly Taiwan. Our CEO was always over there on business trips and is always coming back with stories about office parks the size of the city of Fremont being built left right and center over there. Still a fair bit of design work happening here though. Apple is probably the archetypal modern company. Most value is added at the design, sales and marketing ends of the process, and that all takes place in the valley. The dirty work of manufacturing happens in Taiwan.

As for the OP, sounds like the guy needs to get laid.

Re:maybe Silicon Valley is no longer Silicon Valle (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812777)

there are parts of san jose that are nearly ghost towns. acre after acre of FOR LEASE office / manufacturing buildings. but you are right, they keep building new stuff. i guess because no company wants to move into a depressing 1970's office.

really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812433)

OP should start Occupy Silicon Valley.. lol

Absolutely!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812447)

Which is why I plan to switch my career over to the socially conscious and ethical industry of... Umm, never mind, I'm just going to go back to work at the evil insurance company tomorrow.

We can't have an economy of all non-profits* and any (non-tongue-in-cheek) references to ethics or societal good in a mission statement will get scrubbed out by the MBAs as soon as there's any significant money to be had.

* Actually, I think we could theoretically, but that just isn't going to happen.

Don't limit it to Silly-Con Valley (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812449)

Most of corporate America is corrupt, at least at the higher levels. The rich seem to have a sense of entitlement and expect the rest of us to pay for it. The solution is simple. Don't use Facebook, Google or the other large companies that steal your privacy. Most of all don't tell them the truth. If they find out that their "targeted" marketing isn't so targeted their product becomes worthless. I don't use facebook, google, and am pretty pissed at myself for not building a UNIX box. If their revenue streams dry up the companies become worthless.

Nothing is broken except how you see things (4, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812465)

Gee, I'd love to see a world where Intel, Dell, IBM, HP, TI and a host of other companies never existed. Yea, we'd be better off without GE, Ford, General Motors, Exxon and the like. Would not need any hackers in Silicon Valley, much less silicon. Just forget the transistor, integrated circuits or microprocessors ever existed.

Capitalism may have it's flaws, but it is better than any previously tried system over the last 6,000 years of recorded history. Please let's not repeat any of them!

Re:Nothing is broken except how you see things (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812669)

Gee, I'd love to see a world where Intel, Dell, IBM, HP, TI and a host of other companies never existed. Yea, we'd be better off without GE, Ford, General Motors, Exxon and the like. Would not need any hackers in Silicon Valley, much less silicon. Just forget the transistor, integrated circuits or microprocessors ever existed.

Capitalism may have it's flaws, but it is better than any previously tried system over the last 6,000 years of recorded history. Please let's not repeat any of them!

I'm with you all the way, except for your inclusion of Exxon. Some companies happen to bump shoulders with society by accident from time to time, but Exxon really is a nasty piece of work and I'm not just talking about the Exxon Valdez disgrace. Much of the global warming denial industry can be traced back to this one company.

Re:Nothing is broken except how you see things (5, Insightful)

AdamWill (604569) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812797)

If you read the article, it's not about that at all. It's about _new_ Silicon Valley: the startup culture. This is massively different to the culture that existed when Intel, Dell, IBM, HP and TI were founded.

Those companies are all fairly traditional companies in organization and goals. They were typical old-school American corporate structures built to achieve modern results. HP wasn't crowdfunded, hyped into a bubble and then pushed into an IPO to make the founders and a couple of venture capitalists into multi-millionaires. It was a long-term endeavour built around providing serious engineering for serious ends. It wasn't a get-rich-quick scheme.

This article is more about the culture of quick-hit startups in Silicon Valley these days, which are built more around buzz, hype and marketing vapidity than they are around serious engineering or any kind of long-term planning. It's questioning the culture of founding a company around a cute idea with the aim of selling out in two years to become a millionaire. That is not what Hewlett and Packard were about. They built a company around engineering on the basis of a belief that they could provide a benefit over the long term.

If anything I'd say the weakness of the article lies in its evidence, which isn't really sufficient. It has one useful and accurate case study - Uber - but it really needs more than that to talk about any kind of trend. I rather think, though, that if the author had tried, he could have come up with lots of other examples. Uber was a great case study, though. It's 'innovative' and 'disruptive'...where you read 'disruptive' to mean 'doesn't see the point in complying with regulations meant to ensure public safety'. There's a _reason_ taxi services are strongly licensed and regulated virtually the world over (and you probably wouldn't feel great taking a cab in a place where they aren't).

Follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812985)

"if the author had tried, he could have come up with lots of other examples."
Just follow the trail of Silicon Valley "serial entrepreneurs" from 1990 forward.
"Traditional models of valuation no longer apply".

Re:Nothing is broken except how you see things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812863)

I think main commenter was looking for ways to change things rather throwing the whole system out. Absurd to think at this time that anything other than our quasi-capitalism is the best course of action.

You also seemed to miss the point about business ethics and whether tech. leaders should exercise more social consciousness rather than worship the almighty dollar, and the latest quarters earnings. I mean, the Corp's at large are sitting on $5 Trillion in the bank. It becomes a zero sum game in the end and boils down to the role they play in society. For better or worse.

Re:Nothing is broken except how you see things (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812957)

"Capitalism may have it's flaws, but it is better than any previously tried system over the last 6,000 years of recorded history. "
I have noticed that many people who praise capitalism is often not realising they are praising a system that arent anymore. Capitalism today is not the capitalism you saw 20-40 years ago, when the economy flourished. Everything was more regulated back then. The industry was regulated, the banks where regulated(take the glass stegal act.) Unions was much stronger. Income inequality was waaaay smaller, jobs wasnt outsourced to cheap 3rd world countries where people want to work for pennies. Companies wasnt as focused on profit maximizing, low wage jobs didnt pay soo low that people still had to ask for food stamps, or lived inside tents in the woods because their paycheck was soo small they couldnt pay rent(hello walmart: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/19/walmart-warehouse-workers_n_1989121.html )

Capitalism today is failing bigtime. Cooperation turn in record profit numbers yet keep firing people and outsource the jobs to low wage countries. CEO paychecks explode while the lower and middle incomeclass becomes poorer. Loopholes are being used by everyone to prevent paying taxes, that funds schools, healthcare, fire and policedepartments and more. Right now our capitalistic system is soo focused on how to maximize their short term profit, that they dont realize(or dont care) what they are doing to the system in the long run.
Take Apple. If there was no big consumerbase in the west who would buy their phones? Not their chinese workers because they dont get paid near enough to afford such a phone. Like soo many other big companies Apple want to sell to a rich consumerbase that we have in the west, but they dont want to pay to have such a consumerbase. They expect other companies to make sure we have jobs that pays us enough to afford a iphone, so they can skip that important step and pay poor chinese people to produce their stuff instead. Problem today is that the outsourcing of productionjobs have skyrocketed. Everyone want to sell to the western consumerbase, but noone want to pay that consumerbase enough to be able to consume. They all expect others to lift that burden, and that is not happening atm.

So before you praise capitalism think about what kind of capitalistic system you are praising. Is it the capitalistic system of today that outsource productionjobs, and find tax loopholes, or is it the capitalistic system of yesterday.

Re:Nothing is broken except how you see things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812981)

You can be a capitalist without being a terrible human being.

Social Responsiblity (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812471)

The era of socialism as it defined in the dictionary is dead in America. The idea of noblesse oblige, and societal responsibility are not only forgotten in minds of those who control the wealth in this country, but spit upon as if it were a curse. Too many Americans today feel that wealth redistribution by the state should be abolished, as they are quick to scapegoat the needy in light of this country's ills. It is this undercurrent of disregard for our fellow countrymen that is showing all over the place in the attitudes of the Haves, in today's politics and even something so basic as getting a job.

America needs to wake the hell up and realise that helping each other, taking responsibility for one's actions, and working for the common good are the cornerstones of civilization. Throw them out, and all you will have is barbarity and all that implies.

Re:Social Responsiblity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812897)

I feel this is right on the money. In addition, I feel that we need to have corporations change the order of their responsibilities. First should come the people that run the corporations, not the bosses or CEOs, but the workers! Next should be the customers, and last should be the share holders. This way people may develop pride in their work again, since they would have a greater say in how things are done. Less incentive to outsource the work when the focus is keeping your employees working. Customer feedback would be more important to keep the work flowing, and a prosperous company benefits all involved. How we get there is the puzzle no one has cracked yet.

Re:Social Responsiblity (0)

trout007 (975317) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812917)

So your point is people need to help each other and work for the common good and if they don't you are willing to stick a gun in their ribs to make them.

Now? (2)

LoudMusic (199347) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812485)

Ehh, you're just now figuring that out?

Re:Now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812643)

Ehh, you're just now figuring that out?

Well it seems most Americans are dumb enought to not have figured it out.
That's why they continue to vote for the Democratic party or the Republican party.
America is the epitome of a country/society that worships only the almighty dollar and all else be damned.

Google is more evil than Microsoft ever was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812489)

I thought it was self evident... (2)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812507)

I thought that Silicon-Valley being "morally bankrupt and essentially toxic to our society" was self evident. But, why single out Silicon-Valley?

Typically society stays on course (3, Insightful)

kawabago (551139) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812517)

There is too much invested in the lifestyle we have now for society to change course to avoid catastrophe. People will continue doing the same things until collapse by economic, environmental or political forces impose change.

Awwh, cannot get your ship out (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812521)

Feeling down?
No help around?
Burma Shave

Since when is Slashdot a political site? (2)

Kergan (780543) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812535)

Not that I seriously disagree with TFS, but... Since when is this tech news or stuff that matters?

News at four! Business is focused on its own interest rather than on the public's good in corporate America! Read all about it on Slashdot!

Seriously... This is the kind of stuff I'd expect to be reading on some political site, not on slashdot. I barely cope with the US political news and the US elections. (How about EU, Asia or Latin America political news for a change?) Wtf?

Re:Since when is Slashdot a political site? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812677)

It's a meta question. If you were a banker on Wall Street, would you find it off topic if someone in 2005 had posted a thread questioning the moral value of products that packaged tiny slices of tens of thousands of subprime, no-documentation loans as derivatives with a triple-A credit ratings?

Re:Since when is Slashdot a political site? (1)

Kergan (780543) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812785)

It's a meta question. If you were a banker on Wall Street, would you find it off topic if someone in 2005 had posted a thread questioning the moral value of products that packaged tiny slices of tens of thousands of subprime, no-documentation loans as derivatives with a triple-A credit ratings?

Probably not, if I were a banker with the slightest clue in finance. You do realize that banks were going full throttle towards bankruptcy back then for any observer who bothered to look, and that they're now all zombies, right?

And again, I don't question the premises in TFS, it's just that this belongs on some other site imho. I'd rather be reading about IBM's latest breakthrough on carbon nanotubes, thank you very much.

Re:Since when is Slashdot a political site? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812921)

You're spending a lot of time posting comments in a thread you could have just skipped over, then.

No, I think theres more to it. You object to the rest of us having this discussion. Right? Or why your comments?

I am not completely convinced (4, Interesting)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812537)

I am not completely convinced of the points that the OP is trying to make. But any company has the interest of it's owner closest to heart. In a public company, the owners are the stock holders and stock holders usually wants continuous growth and year on year profit, which might not be what is best for the company an might not be what is best for the consumer/user.
I once had the fortune to work for a very large international corporation that was entirely family owned, with no external stock holders. And I can tell you that the culture and mentality within that corporation was completely different compared to other workplaces I have been in.
They were much more concerned with continuously building the value of the brand / family name, than to make profit for the share holders. If they were convinced something was the right thing to do, they would allow it to take time and money.
So I would say the problem lays more in the way that companies are financed today, and the effects that has on their operations, than whether they are located in Silicon Valley or not.

what. the. hell. (0)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812539)

happened just normal social fucking interaction??

No (1, Informative)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812541)

The answer? It's no. Just like it always is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge%27s_law_of_headlines [wikipedia.org]

Re:No (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812825)

Can we please stop quoting that crappy adage? Half the time it doesn't even apply. If you actually read the wikipedia page, it pertains to big media who would use questions to call attention to their articles, and/or cover up their lack of knowledge.

First, it's not clear that the "law" is even true, and secondly whatever evidence there is to support it is from an entirely different source than user (not journalist!) submitted stories.

It's not clever, and adds nothing to the discussion.

Is RTFA possible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812557)

I know we're not known for RTFA here, and since I work for one of the evil corporations listed, I really tried to do so-- but holy shit, did anyone get through that nonsense? Care to distill the main arguments, if there were any?

Re:Is RTFA possible? (2)

Z34107 (925136) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812709)

The article's not much better than the summary. Key points:

  1. Taxi regs prevent rape--in no way are they meant to stifle competition and guarantee monopolist profits for medallion owners. Why does Uber hate women?
  2. "Disruption" was invented by Ayn Rand, and is an excuse for, ahem, "every spoiled trust fund brat looking for an excuse to embrace his or her inner asshole."
  3. Uber doesn't have your best interests at heart--they wouldn't drive you anywhere if you didn't pay them! Presumably, the existing cabbies are the pinnacle of altruism.
  4. Author concludes using Uber, despite their documented objectivist leanings and hatred of women and civil society.

8/10 troll. Outrageous while maintaining credibility; full-bodied with notes of cassis and oak.

(0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812601)

Your question is i×

Figure out what that means.

Stopping road deaths is a "geek toy"? (4, Interesting)

wisty (1335733) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812607)

Since when are self-driving cars a "geek toy"? Road safety is a huge thing. Unless you hate old people, the disabled, and people who are just unlucky, getting humans away from the steering wheel is going to be up there with curing cancer.

Re:Stopping road deaths is a "geek toy"? (5, Insightful)

VAElynx (2001046) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812679)

Never shall I sit my arse in a self-driving car. Bus? Fine, that's what I tend to prefer being a shitty driver. But not something that can be messed with as easily as these sort of control systems.
Someone wise said this on slashdot earlier to the topic - Society can cope with serial killers, but parallel ones are a different cup of coffee entirely. Imagine the result of a software flaw or a malicious intervention where twenty cars do the same fucking stupid thing on an interstate highway. Sure, people fuck up all the time, but at least there, the probabilities of them doing so are fairly independant, and they can adapt to a messup better than software.

sp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812653)

I think OP misspelled capitalism in the title of this story.

Newsflash (2)

tbird81 (946205) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812661)

Companies try to make money! How evil!

Companies are meant to make money, that's how they pay their employees. As long as they're not using the law/government to take advantage (i.e. Apple) then there's nothing wrong with it.

Money is not evil. It's usually the most greedy who complain about the wealth of others.

Re:Newsflash (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812815)

Profit is evil, retard.

Personalization can be good, evil, or both. (2)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812667)

>Better ad targeting or content matching algorithms definitely won't fix it

Maybe not, but you have to admit that if you're going to be force-fed ads, ads for computer hardware & home automation gear are several orders of magnitude less annoying than ads for feminine hygiene products, diapers, payday loans, personal injury lawyers, and [Romney|Obama].

People are shits (2)

czmax (939486) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812723)

Yup, there are lots of morally bankrupt and toxic corporations. Limiting your critique to the high tech industry could cause you to think this is about technology vs human interactions or some made up arbitrary distinction. Clear your mind, feel the force, and examine your feelings: this issue is much broader than you suppose.

People can be morally bankrupt and toxic. They can be greedy little shits. Usually they're either taught by society, or reigned in by societies laws, to be more ethical and bubbly and interested in the social justice and all that -- but only usually. And we all know that if you add a few layers of indirection, like maybe they're just doing their job and trying to get a bonus or grow their team or implement a cool feature and see their stock go up or find a business model that feeds and diapers the kids... well, ethics about some shmuck on the internet is a pretty easy thing to let slip. Heck, give them a big enough bonus and they'll close a plant and ship all the jobs to China. And run for office based on how much money they made when they increased the value of the stock.

If you're concerned then you need to engage with people. Work to built the society you want to see exist; work to encode that society into our enforced laws, and _vote_ for people that reflect your opinions.

In a word, YES! (4, Interesting)

under_score (65824) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812727)

I moved there in 1997 to work for the Lighthouse Design division of Sun Microsystems (formerly the division did NeXT software). As a mid-size city kid from the Canadian prairies, I was immediately struck by, not just the moral bankruptcy, but what I felt was literally a soul-destroying culture. I left soon after and only returned a couple times, each time having that impression confirmed.

Here are some of the things I observed. Some are general to the United States and its form of capitalism, some (seem to be) specific to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley:

1. Culture of guns and violence. Simply a belief that enough other people are "bad" that you must protect yourself and it would be okay to kill someone else to do that. There are lots of places in the world where that belief is not pervasive and they seem to be nicer places to live. It's kinda like the justice system is supposed to work: it's fairer if you presume innocence and that actually encourages people to behave nicely whereas if you presume guilt, people will live up to that expectation.

2. Extreme Culture of Materialism. Money matters, and getting rich matters even more. The expression "F***-You Money" is a good indicator of this. I knew a few people who had their "F***-You Money" and they weren't enlightened... they were spoiled. It's like the "American Dream" taken to an unhealthy extreme. People were generally extremely busy and most friendly conversation was either about money, money other people make, technology, sex or drugs. Very little friendly conversation was about community, relationships, or the soul.

3. A Bizarre Hypocrisy around Tolerance/Inclusion. San Francisco, in particular, was bad for this; blind to its own racism yet so proud that it was inclusive and tolerant. If you know the area, I only need say "East Palo Alto" (it's been a few years so maybe it's gentrified now) and you should be able to figure out what I mean. We tolerate all religions, all philosophies, all genders, all types of cultures... except the black and spanish folks in our midst who only work menial or retail service jobs. The real problem is that most people there were completely blind to what was blindingly obvious to me as an outsider.

4. Pervasive, Persuasive Moral Bankruptcy. The longer I was there, the more I "got into" the culture. I've seen this happen to other friends from outside the area. It kills people's souls. Maybe not everyone... I'm sure there are some people who are shining examples of enlightenment... but I couldn't resist it, and I don't know anyone else who has (save one person). Of course, this is "normal" - we adjust to and eventually adopt the culture of our surroundings unless we actively work against it. I _was_ actively working against it and it still changed me to my own detriment.

I believe that the organizations that are there (Google, Facebook, etc.) are not "to blame" as they are just participating in the culture and trying to be successful in that culture. (Or to be more accurate, the people in those organizations are doing this.) But anyone who has an idealistic bone in them will quickly have it gellified and unconsciously begin to give up that idealism for the much more flexible moral relativism and then eventually the outlook that, heck, capitalism isn't so bad after all! not realizing that the ideology in that area is beyond capitalism: it's imperial corporatist capitalism that cares only for growth, and at any human cost (just so long as it doesn't harm the bottom line).

Re:In a word, YES! (2, Funny)

SQL Error (16383) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812827)

So what you're saying is that America is populated with people?

Re:In a word, YES! (2)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812989)

So what you're saying is nothing in his comment meant enough to reflect on, so you flicked it away with an "it's human nature" bromide? That's lazy, man. What he said bugged you. But maybe you just want to brush it off and move on. Ok.

Re:In a word, YES! (2)

Z34107 (925136) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812881)

I can't speak to the rest of your points, but I found your first one incomprehensible:

Simply a belief that enough other people are "bad" that you must protect yourself and it would be okay to kill someone else to do that.

Were you to be attacked on the street one day, would you not protect yourself? Do you think poorly of those who have? Do you not believe in a right to life, let alone liberty and property? Or do you just not believe in "bad" people?

Not a Luddite screed (3, Interesting)

Josh Coalson (538042) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812751)

It's not just corporate greed; consumer greed fuels the race to the bottom of the price curve. Users apparently have no problem "paying" for a service with their and others' privacy or other intangibles as long as the service is free-as-in-beer. The whole vendor-customer structure has been inverted; Facebook's and Google's etc. users who might have been paying customers in a sane economy pay nothing so are now the product. Now half the "innovation" that happens in the valley is just new ways to get people's attention and sell them out to advertisers, and the more obvious a patent is, the more it's worth.

I wonder if there could ever be a sane market again where you paid what a phone costs and got secure communication without being tracked, or paid for email with built in PGP and avoided getting spammed and having your email property of and stored by your provider forever, paid for a social networking service without having your life exposed or your face secretly scanned and sold to the government. I think those times are gone.

NoScript solves all (1)

evanh (627108) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812759)

Of course, fixing the broken websites would be helpful too.

'Social Justice' is a ridiculous concept (4, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812781)

It's an airy concept devoid of any real meaning. It's has the flimsiest of justifications for its existence and every time I hear it I want to hit someone. It's a high-minded sounding renaming of whatever particular pet grievance the current user of the term has in mind at the moment. It's an attempt to avoid any real debate over the merits of the grievance by presenting a piece of the picture and appealing to someone's sense of fairness. It's dishonest, deceitful and doesn't belong in polite conversation. It's the race-baiting of the left.

Otherwise, I completely agree with you. Silicon Valley is toxic and morally bankrupt. Just as bad in its way as Wall Street.

The problem, as I see it, is the profit motive. Which is not exactly a problem precisely. It's when the profit becomes the goal instead of the reward.

When you structure a business, you have to structure it so it makes financial sense, so it can support itself, so it can make money. Structuring it to extract the maximum possible value out of the system is counter-productive. With the right kinds of locks and business tricks you can keep anybody else from getting into your value stream at all. Microsoft is the king of this. Unfortunately this behavior is long-term toxic to the business ecosystem. And it's long-term toxic to the fabric of society.

No, you should have a goal in your business that has nothing to do with money. The goal you have is the value you provide. Then think about how to get enough money out of the system to achieve that goal grow modestly and make you and your employees reasonably well-off. Your profit is your reward for doing something people value. It's not the goal.

Of course, there are puzzles like Facebook. Facebook has never been profitable. They're greedy because they have no idea how to extract value. So any means is considered fair game because they're hungry. Which is a different (but related) kind of attitude problem.

To me, the evil of Facebook is one of centralization. Whenever you have that kind of centralization you will get something that uses its control to the detriment of everybody else. It might not happen right away (aka Google), but it will inevitably happen. Centralization is a bug, never a feature.

Re:'Social Justice' is a ridiculous concept (0)

greg_barton (5551) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812871)

So you think corporations ar evil?

So many things wrong with this post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812793)

There are so many things wrong with this post from an ethical perspective I almost don't know where to begin. Anyone who has studied ethics could point out these flaws, but I'm just going to use a few phrases and words.

Social Justice - one of the worst terms ever coined. Every person who attempts to define social justice has a different definition. Who's definition is correct? How do you correct for it? there is no such thing as social justice because it's entirely subjective; what you define as social justice another may see as social inequality. If you don't like the way something is done, or it goes against your moral beliefs, get it codified into law through the political process and make it LEGAL justice.

"the well being of, I was going to say their customers or users, but I'll say 'people' in general" - BS. You're talking about companies. Take an ethics class or a business law class; a company's only obligations is to it's shareholders except when stated otherwise at the time of it's founding, ie it's a socially concious company from the get-go. If you don't like that, don't buy a company's product or work through the political process to change the law to have your beliefs incorporated as rules for the company to follow.

Capitalism is not perfect, but it's the best system we have and it's better than anything anyone has tried before or since; socialism quickly devolves into welfare programs that are economically unsustainable, fascism/corporatism is rife with croneyism and quickly falls to dictatorship, and communism inherently over-produces unnecessary goods and underproduces necessary goods, leading to overall dissastisfaction of the populace as well as eventually devolving into dictatorship and corruption. Capitalism at least directs goods and resources to those who want them, and the beauty of capitalism is the simple goal of companies: to maximize profits. While I'm not a "greed is good" Gordon Gecko capitalist, I do believe that with a simple goal of all companies, to seek and maximize profits, it is far easier for a government to manipulate those companies through affecting their profits towards a common good. For example, if you don't like the privacy concerns brought up by Facebook, then get yourself elected to Congress, or start a PAC and get the word out, and get legislation enacted that fines the hell out of companies like Facebook for not following a certain privacy standard. Watch their behavior change.

I know in reality that's a lot easier said than done, but history is literred with the corpses of failed states run by people trying to implement their ideals of "social justice".

reject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812877)

Liberal think stink. Capitalism in a free society is the most successful system in the history of the world. Is it perfect? No, but it's a hell of a lot better than anything else that has EVER been done. Nobody is forcing you to buy a smartphone, or use Google or Facebook, or buy any product from any company (until Obamacare passed), or any service from any corporate giant. People buy things because they want them, and companies succeed because of it. If companies don't make things people want or need, then the company fails. That is the way of things. If you don't like something, vote with your wallet.

Corporations are profit motivated (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812885)

Period.
- Don't ever think a corporation does anything directly to benefit their customers.
- Don't ever think a corporation does anything directly to benefit their internal employees.
- Don't ever think a corporation does anything directly to benefit the "public"

For corporations, everything is done in the name of profit. If it happens to benefit other parties, that's a side effect, not the intention. In most cases, it has to benefit other parties to make a profit, but by no means is original intention. The original intention is profit.

AC states this as a fairly generalized statement. There are exceptions - corporations who fall outside this stereotype, private companies who are not necessarily interested in a profit, non-profits, etc. However, for most cases, don't delude yourself into thinking there was ever any true intention other than profit.

Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812899)

Didn't mama warned us technology is evil??

Evil Organic Farmers (1)

retroworks (652802) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812901)

They started in the Nile River Valley. We should have killed them before they evolved into other rich people.

All you need to know (1)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812925)

Earlier Silicon Valley tweeted:

Duh, WINNING

Check your premises (3, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812933)

If you think we live in a capitalist society, think again.

Once again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812937)

The problem is not the people or the location.

the problem is greed. excessive greed ruins EVERYTHING!
And we keep imagining it doesn't.

Socialism Worked in Star Trek (1)

MakyoDetector (943246) | about a year and a half ago | (#41812951)

It can work for us, too... we just have to prevent J. J. Abrams from rebooting us back to capitalism.

God problems? Solve them with violence! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41812991)

We should definitely solve it with violence by petitioning the government to point the guns at today's "bad people".

I myself simply don't use what isn't right for me which means I don't have Facebook or Google accounts. As a result I may not know my second cousin's cat is sick today thanks to Facebook and can't post comments on YouTube videos but this is really the extent of my problems.

Firefox plugins of choice: FlashBlock, Adblock Plus, Ghostery, NoScript.

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