We regularly cover ethics in Exponential View. The rationale is reasonably straightforward. Increasingly our access to all services are mediated by technology. Technology has long outgrown its niche status but rather is our fundamental interface to the world.
The optimism of the technology industry (particularly with the rise of the Internet in the 1980s and 1990s) was that power would be decentralised and distributed. The Internet was the supposed to be a decentralised, open network. Built to survive nuclear destruction (if the line of defence afforded by MAD
failed), the Internet’s first services were initiated, in many cases, by thoughtful netizens influenced by the counter-culture movement of the late 1960s. (See, for example, Jon Postel
and Stewart Brand
In the past 30 years, the Internet has grown up. Far from being decentralised, favouring the edge and facilitating groups, the Internet is dominated by two Leviathans Facebook and Google.
At the same time, a template, call it ‘zero-to-one’, has emerged for building new monopolies, new Leviathans. And that template, as DHH describes above
, relentless optimisation in pursuit of extreme growth. At all costs. At any cost.
And the engineers-entrepreneurs leading these firms have found themselves in positions of power that call for more Socrates than slide rule, Mill & Marx than machine learning, Rawls than regression analysis, Aristotle than AI, Nussbaum than ninety-day-plans…