Rating

9

Qualities

  • Controversial
  • Eye Opening
  • Bold

Recommendation

As past editor of The New Republic, Franklin Foer writes about Silicon Valley’s threat to the media and democracy from the front lines of a lost war. His perspective causes him to occasionally overstate his case. Foer raises an urgent warning: Humanity sits poised on an abyss. In amassing near-monopoly control over information, Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook have become history’s greatest gatekeepers. They have no restraint about manipulating government, politics, business or individual thought.

Summary

Silicon Valley’s giant tech firms – Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple – aspire to nothing short of everything.

They want a monopoly on telling you what to do and think. Using your movements, patterns, friendships and buying habits, they know more about you than you know about yourself. They don’t see you as an individual, but as part of a mass of humanity whose behavior they will shape according to their view of the common good – their own benefit.

The earnestness of the Silicon Valley quest for domination stems from the work of philosophers and academics like Stewart Brand and Marshall McLuhan. Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog sold millions of copies in the 1960s and inspired future tech leaders, including Steve Jobs. Brand channeled McLuhan’s ideas about the potential of network technology to create a “global village.” Silicon Valley lore – from the internet and World Wide Web to open source software – encodes Brand’s and McLuhan’s ideas. Only one global village can exist, and the tech giants want to own it.

Big Tech pursues monopoly as a noble cause – a cause that might destroy democracy.

Due to the...

About the Author

Franklin Foer served as editor of The New Republic for seven years before his controversial firing in 2014. He writes for The Atlantic.


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