How Silicon Valley (WANTS to) Shape(s) Our Future
March 11, 2015 9:59 AM   Subscribe

 
It all ties in with an underestimated undercurrent that shapes the Silicon Valley more than anything else: the counter-culture of the 1960s and the deeply anchored roots of San Francisco's hippie movement.

A-ha-ha-ha, Der Spiegel, you are so cute when you're naive.

Why yes, the hippie movements of the sixties would have been totally down with undemocratic corporate control of virtually every resource, algorithm-generated norms for happiness, health and compliance, Google's fucking military robotics division, constant state surveillance of everything you do, constant corporate surveillance of everything you do, all experiences "optimized' to make it easier for you to buy stuff, everyone looking into tiny mechanical devices every moment of every day...One would think that Germany never had any hippies of their own.
posted by Frowner at 10:19 AM on March 11, 2015 [52 favorites]


(Every time anyone gets all techno-utopian on me, I start talking about Google's military robots and asking people just how they think those are likely to be used and on who. It cuts that "don't be evil" and "but but smartphones" shit right out.)
posted by Frowner at 10:21 AM on March 11, 2015 [17 favorites]


On Moore's Law: You know, exponential growth curves are an interesting dynamic, but the really interesting thing is the dashed horizontal line that's always conveniently left off. That line describes the finite limit that any closed system has. The dynamics of what happens when that wild exponential growth curve hits that finite limit, be it market cap or fuel resources or food or population or processor speed, or capitalism itself, that's what's really interesting.

Because shit really hits the fan when you hit the dashed line.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:26 AM on March 11, 2015 [40 favorites]


Frowner, it's worth remembering that the 60s is when SF used zoning and blockbusting to destroy the minority sections of the city. Not to mention that a lot of their housing issues are due to rampant NIMBYism among the crunchier set.

The hippies weren't nearly the free souls people make them out to be.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:28 AM on March 11, 2015 [16 favorites]


Because shit really hits the fan when you hit the dashed line.

People forget that the place where you push the envelope is where the postage gets cancelled.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:29 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah mcstayinskool I agree. The rate of transformation in the early 20th century was so staggering that it was perfectly reasonable for a bunch of sci-fi authors in the 40's and 50's to predict full solar system colonization by the end of the century. There's a reason why we're not even close and it's that eventually you run out of all of the easy 'exponential' gains, and you are left with a very intractable set of problems.
posted by teh_boy at 10:31 AM on March 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


On Moore's Law: You know, exponential growth curves are an interesting dynamic, but the really interesting thing is the dashed horizontal line that's always conveniently left off.

[expletive deleted] had some interesting points on that score in an old thread:
I think it would be instructive to apply the Margolus-Levitin theorem to the consequences of extrapolating like this graph does. This is what I don't get about these blithe assumptions of exponential growth: they always cut off just as things get really interesting. As the linked abstract states, due to the fundamental limits imposed by physical laws as we know them, "adding one Joule of energy to a given computer can never increase its processing rate by more than about 3x10^33 operations per second."

So where does that leave us? Well, by 2100, where the extrapolated curve hits the edges of the graph and fades conveniently into the background, we are looking at 10^60 calculations per second per $1000. So this means that by 2100—a year I could conceivably live to see if I manage to quit smoking—all the cool kids will be walking around with smartphones that consume the equivalent of the total power output of the sun. I'm sorry, that's fucking bonkers. But still, if we assume these new $1000 10^60 cps computers can somehow open up wormholes to take the energy from a parallel universe and also find a parallel universe to dump the waste heat, I guess it would be physically possible, even though these devices would have to be denser than a neutron star to have enough memory to harness that power, even if they were as big as houses. Still, I guess we could all be walking around with automagical wormhole computers that use an entire artificially constructed neutron star or black hole as memory. You win, singularitans. But what if we go further than that? Well, we can extrapolate the extrapolation a little more, into say 2200, then we get to something like 10^500 calculations per second per kilo-dollar. What does that mean? We are flooded with countless old computers, too worthless to sell, that consume more than the total mass-energy of the visible universe, including all dark matter and dark energy, every nanosecond. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that projection is a little optimistic.

...I guess what I'm trying to say is there are fundamental physical limits to growth, however you want to define it. We can't just go on consuming more energy at an exponential rate forever, and these projections of growth in computing power always assume that we can. I blame modern economic orthodoxy for giving us the absurd notion of sustainable exponential growth. It's always been nothing more than a religion used to justify the entitlement of capital owners to a return on capital that ensures the concentration of wealth. Now it's given birth to these moronic high priests of the neoliberal technocrat's eschaton, and all I can do is pray that this cult dies before they destroy the conditions that make life possible in the name of progress.
posted by Iridic at 10:32 AM on March 11, 2015 [68 favorites]


People forget that the place where you push the envelope is where the postage gets cancelled.

This is a great example of the incisive, insightful-sounding metaphor that actually makes very little sense.
posted by kenko at 10:33 AM on March 11, 2015 [19 favorites]


Why yes, the hippie movements of the sixties would have been totally down with undemocratic corporate control of virtually every resource, algorithm-generated norms for happiness, health and compliance, Google's fucking military robotics division, constant state surveillance of everything you do, constant corporate surveillance of everything you do, all experiences "optimized' to make it easier for you to buy stuff, everyone looking into tiny mechanical devices every moment of every day...One would think that Germany never had any hippies of their own.

All watched over by machines of loving grace. That poem is pretty scary now, isn't it? All it needs is a video of drone strikes, with the spoken poem superimposed on them.

There was always a strand of 60's thinking that had a large amount of faith in transcending politics through technology. That we could go beyond petty squabbles through the use of cybernetics. Which leads them to getting in bed with all sorts of strange bedfellows. A good book on that is the biography of Stewart Brand, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. I mean, hell, Steve Jobs was a hippie.

I've always said that the scariest thing about Google is there stated goal is to index the sum total of the world's information, and make it available to everyone, and they believe in "Don't be evil". They fact that they think both of these goals are not in conflict is what's scary.
posted by zabuni at 10:35 AM on March 11, 2015 [16 favorites]


A-ha-ha-ha, Der Spiegel, you are so cute when you're naive.

You should probably read this book before you go around accusing other people of being naive: What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry.

Also, San Francisco (home of Uber, AirBnB, Peter Thiel, etc.) is not in the Valley.
posted by sideshow at 10:36 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is a great example of the incisive, insightful-sounding metaphor that actually makes very little sense.

If you're looking at a traditional 2 axis graph, a performance envelope is usually a rectangular area defined by the axes and upper bounds on both variables. Pushing the envelope means raising one of those two bounds, causing the upper right corner of the envelope to move. Of course, on a physical envelope, that is where you put the postage - and the cancellation stamp.

It's basically another way of pointing out that it's called the bleeding edge for a reason.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:41 AM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've always said that the scariest thing about Google is there stated goal is to index the sum total of the world's information, and make it available to everyone, and they believe in "Don't be evil". They fact that they think both of these goals are not in conflict is what's scary.

Scientia est potentiam, my friend. Never forget that truth.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:44 AM on March 11, 2015


The hippies weren't nearly the free souls people make them out to be.

I thought the prevailing consensus is that the hippies largely sold out and, as Boomers, are largely at fault for the current state of the world?
posted by Apocryphon at 10:45 AM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


You should probably read this book before you go around accusing other people of being naive: _What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry_

Seconding John Markoff and Fred Turner's books as being excellent primers on the long, strange, and now-seemingly-counterintuitive trysts between the military, massive US corporations and the counterculture that birthed personal computing and the early internet. Markoff gives a good précis in this 2005 talk.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:46 AM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've seen Ray Kurzweil (first person in the first article...) waving around a graph with a bunch of sigmoids drawn over each other, and handwave that somehow computation speed, or whatever it was that he was on about at the time, was going to keep being able to jump from the top part of one sigmoid to the bottom part of the next, and thus follow a long-term exponential curve. Forever, so far as I could tell.

I'm kind of a Singularitarian, and at LEAST I'm quite sure AI will eventually surpass humans in every meaningful dimension... and he STILL seems like a nutcase to me.
posted by Hizonner at 10:47 AM on March 11, 2015


Also, San Francisco (home of Uber, AirBnB, Peter Thiel, etc.) is not in the Valley.

I live right in front of one of the charter bus stops that has extended the Valley right to my peninsula doorstep.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:47 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


You should probably read this book before you go around accusing other people of being naive

Yes, but - when "hippies" and "counterculture" are invoked in the popular press, they're not literally talking about the connections between various early cybernetics people. They're invoking hippies-peace-freedom images in order to appeal to what is popularly believed about hippies, San Francisco, etc. Only too obviously, because the actual espoused values of, say, Ken Kesey or the people Marge Piercy was running around with in the late sixties/early seventies are not the values of Silicon Valley.

If anything, it's the break with hippie values that is so significant - late seventies/early eighties rise-of-the-yuppie stuff, the move from Soul of Man Under Socialism thinking to international corporate development, government connections, etc. There's this thin veneer of a kind of utopianism that covers the split.

I mean, seriously, the Diggers would not have been cool with Google buses.


Frowner, it's worth remembering that the 60s is when SF used zoning and blockbusting


Yeah, but that wasn't the hippies - I don't think you really saw (ex) hippies in government until the seventies and eighties, about the time one would see all the ex-Trots. I'm not particularly a cheerleader for hippiedom, but the idea that contemporary Silicon Valley is somehow acting in the spirit of, say, the Diggers is just the most ridiculous, Orwellian retconning of actual history. The only way in which Silicon Valley is acting like hippies is its constant misogyny and racism, and that's not what is being invoked here.
posted by Frowner at 10:47 AM on March 11, 2015 [25 favorites]


(Although I agree that breaking out what we mean by "hippies" is politically essential.)
posted by Frowner at 10:48 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


On Moore's Law: You know, exponential growth curves are an interesting dynamic, but the really interesting thing is the dashed horizontal line that's always conveniently left off.

From the thread that Iridic linked, an estimate of the limits of computing power gives the figure of 1050 operations per second.

According to Wikipedia the fastest computers now are in the petaflop (1015) range.

So yeah, in theory we can only make computers a trillion trillion trillion times faster. Might as well just give up now.
posted by bjrubble at 10:56 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


I live right in front of one of the charter bus stops that has extended the Valley right to my peninsula doorstep.

Silicon Valley is quickly becoming synonymous with "the S.F. Bay Area", given how that the invasion into Oakland and Berkeley has already started.

Fixating upon strict geographical labels is sort of silly. Wall Street isn't limited to just the road but all over New York, anyhow.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:56 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Singularity was IJ Good's idea. You can tell because IJ Good published it when Kurzweil was 17. And it was also related probabilists who describe the Verhulst law, or the logistic function. Closely related is R May's logistic map, the prototypical description of discrete time chaos.

The Mays model goes like this: time is discrete, domain and range is from 0 to 1, one parameter which is multiplied with a positive feedback and a negative one. Meaning,

x_(t+1) = r(x)(1-x)

This is the same basic idea that Verhulst had, only Mays recognized that it doesn't necessarily damp. One needs only a positive feedback and a negative feedback and the right r working together in order to create fully-developed chaos, with butterfly effect, topological mixing, high Lyapunov exponent, and all that. Universality, critical phenomena for some reason.

Another assumption of both the exponential growth model and Verhulst model is full mixing. Five second's thinking will indicate that this is not the case, but mixing is surprisingly fast in an expander network like the human social network (which is mostly fully connected: the statement to make is that the fully disconnected component of the human social network remains at constant size, so there's like O(constant) number of people who are fully disconnected from the world's social network). Values of properties which are moderated by positive feedback, however, also follow a power law, one of the first discoveries of Pareto.

It cannot be said that the Valley is uniformly libertarian, especially so as you get even a little down from the heights. Because people with educations, formal or not, are usually fairly heterogeneous about such a thing, they are heterogeneous about such a thing. But because do not get their opinions with statistical and/or logical independence, you should never expect a bell curve about these things (the effect of any lack of independence on the central limit theorem is like drops of ink in water: it messes things up surprisingly fast). You should expect something more extreme. But my impression of, say, M Mayer and R Hoffman was that they were fairly corporatist in their demeanor and attitude, and compare to D Hofstadter's opinion. How many computer scientists had a seed of inspiration in the shadow of computation from Hofstadter? (And how much does he like computers? Surprisingly little, according to him)

Interestingly enough, this intuition of phase transition modelled by the chaotic behavior of the logistic map, I'm told, was one of the inspiration behind Hopfield's first thoughts on neural nets and a lot of statistical physicist's inspiration about thermodynamical systems being good for intelligence. A fairly related property, the recursive differentiability of the continuous logistic equation, led to Rumelhart et al using it for the multilayer perceptron. I'm told that the google brain people were thinking about increasing model sophistication until they decided, fuck it, let's stack a 25-layer MLP or something and call it a day except for feature engineering. Hinton routinely in his lectures pokes at the calculations for the number of nodes in an MLP or deep boltzmann machine or whatever to be big enough for a functionalist equivalent for the brain, which I find pretty interesting.

Compare to von Neumann's statement (I stoke this from Hinton and Sejnowski's Boltzmann machine learning paper):

"All of this will lead to theories [of computation] which are much less rigidly of an all-or-none nature than past and present formal logic. They will be of a much less combinatorial, and much more analytical, character. In fact, there are numerous indications to make us believe that this
new system of formal logic will move closer to another discipline which has been little linked in the past with logic. This is thermodynamics, primarily in the form it was received from Boitzmann, and is that part of theoretical physics which comes nearest in some of its aspects to manipulating and measuring information."

Systems with phase transitions and criticality are riven with fundamental inequity, and the self-organized criticality people claim that a lot of this stuff is driven by that sort of self-organized criticality. I am skeptical (see Shalizi's note on why), but it's one of the many reasons why so many damn network scientists are condensed matter physicists.

One of the more interesting things about criticality is universality, which I already sort of mentioned. Near a critical value, an order parameter only depends logically on the dimension of the space it exists in.
posted by curuinor at 10:58 AM on March 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


(You can't say that Hofstadter's part of SV, but you can say that lots of people have Hofstadtery opinions in SV, and the guy has deep connections here)
posted by curuinor at 10:59 AM on March 11, 2015


Techno-utopians never seem to want to engage with the question of to whom, exactly all this magic future brain-uploading technology will be available. Because it sure as hell won't be everybody.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:59 AM on March 11, 2015 [22 favorites]


Frowner, it's worth remembering that the 60s is when SF used zoning and blockbusting to destroy the minority sections of the city. Not to mention that a lot of their housing issues are due to rampant NIMBYism among the crunchier set.

The hippies weren't nearly the free souls people make them out to be.


hippies ≠ the government and business community of San Francisco. Not by a longshot.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:01 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


(You know what - and now I will bow out of the thread - on mature reflection, I think that my first couple of comments at the start of the thread were not helpful. I stand by their content in a "what I think about the world" way, but as "how can we productively talk about this linked material" comments, they were quite poor, and I really should have realized that I was ranting and not done it. It would have been much more interesting and useful to discuss the precise nature of the connections/break with/between hippies and contemporary Silicon Valley.)
posted by Frowner at 11:03 AM on March 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


The new global elite are no longer based on Wall Street.

Snort. Google and Apple are big companies, sure, but the rest of the VC-funded coke party in California is pretty much all paper billionaires who are great at self promotion but have a terrible track record when it comes to, you know, building a company that actually produces enough revenue to exist without VC cash.
posted by junco at 11:05 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


One would think that Germany never had any hippies of their own
They practically invented hippies.
posted by thelonius at 11:08 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Frowner, it's worth remembering that the 60s is when SF used zoning and blockbusting to destroy the minority sections of the city.

I enjoy a good critique of wishy-washy hippieism as much as anybody on the Blue, but the survival of the Haight-Ashbury in the early 1960s was based on a successful pre-hippie movement against blockbusting and urban renewal by the multiracial inhabitants of that neighborhood.
posted by jonp72 at 11:09 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I grew up in Silicon Valley, and now I could never afford to live in my original hometown. Also, during my childhood and high school careers, people talked about Oakland as this terrible place where people went to go die. (I am not kidding.) It's now seen as a viable place to live due to gentrification. Also, the innovation as culture rhetoric is very alarming and romanticized here, at the expense of livable wages and supporting diverse populations.
posted by yueliang at 11:15 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


> A-ha-ha-ha, Der Spiegel, you are so cute when you're naive.

Why yes, the hippie movements of the sixties would have been totally down with undemocratic corporate control of virtually every resource...


I recently read No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead, and there was a bit towards the end about the Whole Earth Catalog being an early adopter of online resources and how a lot of counterculture types really did believe at the time that the internet would be a new frontier of individualism and freedom. Can't really fault them for not realizing that the technology would evolve to the point where it would become a surveillance tool.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:19 AM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


... the idea that contemporary Silicon Valley is somehow acting in the spirit of, say, the Diggers is just the most ridiculous, Orwellian retconning of actual history.

As zabuni points out, the Diggers were only one thread of the US counterculture - and, even in context, a small and uncharacteristically radical one in their vehement, public, activist-oriented rejection of consumerism. There were far more so-called "hip capitalists" orbiting around the counterculture (see Ray Mungo's 1980 book Cosmic Profit: How to Make Money Without Doing Time for an overview and a visit to the beginnings of Whole Foods and the lifestyle marketing of today), and millions more people who participated without any explicit political or personal agenda beyond a demand to pursue pleasure and their interests with fewer social constraints.

Doug Engelbart, Fred Moore, John McCarthy, Stewart Brand, and many other folks who developed or helped to popularize personal computing fell into one of the vast array of political positions that existed in the hip capitalist / lifestyle hippie orbit. They were heavily influenced by the counterculture, but not adverse to using money from the military / corporations (or the byproducts of research it funded) to purse their personal interests or social agendas. Some of them, like Brand, actually evolved into spokespeople for what we now recognize as mainstream business thinking, but which seemed radical in the context of postwar, highly hierarchical corporate culture (in part because, at the same time personal computing was being invented, strains of counterculture thinking were beginning to influence corporate culture via "human potential" movements / cults like est). It's hard to see now, but the mainstream corporate culture of today - not just Silicon Valley's culture - has firm roots in the 1960s counterculture.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:23 AM on March 11, 2015 [19 favorites]


a lot of counterculture types really did believe at the time that the internet would be a new frontier of individualism and freedom

I was just lamenting not that long ago the disappearance of the weird and seemingly sincerely democratic-in-spirit cyber-utopianism of the 90s and its replacement by the slick simulacrum that is modern disruption capitalism.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:23 AM on March 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


I live right in front of one of the charter bus stops that has extended the Valley right to my peninsula doorstep

Not to derail even more, but that charter bus stop is making sure the Valley TRAFFIC isn't also right at your peninsula doorstep as well.

My new office in Cupertino is going to have 12k people, but only 5k parking spots. Those silver gray buses that stop in front of your house are the main reason we are going to have less than 50% of our people drive to work.

Silicon Valley is quickly becoming synonymous with "the S.F. Bay Area", given how that the invasion into Oakland and Berkeley has already started.

My last comment was pedantic, to be fair. MeFites seem to think even Tinder and Snapchat are Valley companies, when in fact they hail from the great City of Los Angeles. So, we should be honest with ourselves and just say that every place that has a tech company is from the Valley, which would mean most of the planet.
posted by sideshow at 11:26 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


ryanshepard nails it and I know we have had fpp's on it before. A lot of the hippie culture people, Kesey, Whole Earth Catalog, etc, were pretty libertarian and not particularly focused on economic or social justice as we often roll into our perception of "hippies". I would argue that the economic and social justice people were in the minority. Sort of like raver people, burning man people, etc -- there is this strong individualist and libertarian aspect to these communities.
posted by beefetish at 11:28 AM on March 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


Seems related: Morality and the Idea of Progress in Silicon Valley. The focus on Silicon Valley is a bit misleading, though; it's really more about how the historical success of empiricism edged out worldviews that were more about achieving meaning than narrowly-definable practical goals, and how we try to force meaning out of modes of thought that can't provide it and have developed this notion of Progress that's out of sync with reality, which results in the Engineer's Disease way Silicon Valley addresses social issues as technical problems with no human context.
posted by byanyothername at 11:30 AM on March 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Techno-utopians never seem to want to engage with the question of to whom, exactly all this magic future brain-uploading technology will be available. Because it sure as hell won't be everybody.

Meh.

I'm struggling to find it, but Thoreau had a great line about everyone lining up at the railroad platform, only to be left in the dusty cloud as the train pulls away, loaded only with the rich. In some local way, yeah, he was right. But on the longer scale, it's absolutely wrong. See the Wozniak quote about computers being only for rich people, and changing that reality. The companies focused on getting big are absolutely aiming at a broad population, which is the antithesis of building brain downloaders just for the rich... Sure, there's a $17,000 Apple watch, but the actual story is the $30 smart phone making its way into Kenya.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:36 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh: and this.
posted by byanyothername at 11:39 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]




There's also a huge difference between the perpetual-startup-founders & VCs and the majority of people in the tech industry. The former do tend towards the hyper-capitalist libertarian side, but most actual tech employees do not and are generally on the liberal side of US politics (although of course they span the entire spectrum when it comes to politics really).

As for Silicon Valley vs NYC/LA/Seattle/etc tech companies --- while there are a lot of companies outside SV, and I haven't worked in the Valley for years, the interconnectedness of the workforce, companies, and funding scenes do make for a culture that is recognizable across the major tech centers. Tech companies in LA or NYC are not vastly different from those in SF, in my experience.

That only holds inside the US, of course. Tech companies in Berlin or Tokyo are much more different.
posted by thefoxgod at 11:45 AM on March 11, 2015


(Found the Thoreau passage, and, probably as should have been expected, it's better and more appropriate than I thought.)

'Such is the universal law, which no man can ever outwit, and with regard to the railroad even we may say it is as broad as it is long. To make a railroad round the world available to all mankind is equivalent to grading the whole surface of the planet. Men have an indistinct notion that if they keep up this activity of joint stocks and spades long enough all will at length ride somewhere, in next to no time, and for nothing; but though a crowd rushes to the depot, and the conductor shouts "All aboard!" when the smoke is blown away and the vapor condensed, it will be perceived that a few are riding, but the rest are run over — and it will be called, and will be, "A melancholy accident." No doubt they can ride at last who shall have earned their fare, that is, if they survive so long, but they will probably have lost their elasticity and desire to travel by that time. This spending of the best part of one's life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it reminds me of the Englishman who went to India to make a fortune first, in order that he might return to England and live the life of a poet. He should have gone up garret at once. "What!" exclaim a million Irishmen starting up from all the shanties in the land, "is not this railroad which we have built a good thing?" Yes, I answer, comparatively good, that is, you might have done worse; but I wish, as you are brothers of mine, that you could have spent your time better than digging in this dirt.'
posted by kaibutsu at 11:48 AM on March 11, 2015 [15 favorites]


Sure, there's a $17,000 Apple watch, but the actual story is the $30 smart phone making its way into Kenya.

Sounds great, until you realize that phone is several cycles behind the current SOTA the wealthy have.

My new office in Cupertino is going to have 12k people, but only 5k parking spots. Those silver gray buses that stop in front of your house are the main reason we are going to have less than 50% of our people drive to work.

This highlights the issue, because a much better solution would be for the tech companies to, instead of investing in private bus lines, put that money into building a better mass transit system for everyone. (Even better would be them using their clout to force the communities they build offices in to improve their housing stock, so people didn't have to commute for a half hour on a bus.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:54 AM on March 11, 2015 [18 favorites]


ryanshepard nails it and I know we have had fpp's on it before. A lot of the hippie culture people, Kesey, Whole Earth Catalog, etc, were pretty libertarian and not particularly focused on economic or social justice as we often roll into our perception of "hippies". I would argue that the economic and social justice people were in the minority. Sort of like raver people, burning man people, etc -- there is this strong individualist and libertarian aspect to these communities.

Just look at their surviving associates, Grateful Dead members etc.

I have the same response to both the "all the hippie leftists sold out" narrative and hippie hagiography - trying to throw every 60s counterculture together as "hippies" doesn't come close to holding up.
posted by atoxyl at 11:59 AM on March 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


There's also a huge difference between the perpetual-startup-founders & VCs and the majority of people in the tech industry. The former do tend towards the hyper-capitalist libertarian side, but most actual tech employees do not and are generally on the liberal side of US politics (although of course they span the entire spectrum when it comes to politics really).

My conception of tech employees (as a tech employee in SV) is that they are more "apolitically" liberal, which is to say that they are "okay" with women and LGBTs and PoCs, but they absolutely don't want anyone to rock the boat in a social-justice sense. For example, tech workers were SUPER ANGRY about BART strikes, which is ostensibly a liberal cause, but it inconvenienced them, so it was bad.
posted by TypographicalError at 12:11 PM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


ryanshepard nails it and I know we have had fpp's on it before. A lot of the hippie culture people, Kesey, Whole Earth Catalog, etc, were pretty libertarian and not particularly focused on economic or social justice as we often roll into our perception of "hippies". I would argue that the economic and social justice people were in the minority. Sort of like raver people, burning man people, etc -- there is this strong individualist and libertarian aspect to these communities.

This is one of the major points in the book I mentioned. The author goes so far as to call them "New Communalists", in order to, and I quote:

tease apart an important strand of counterculture thought and practice that has become so thoroughly entangled with the terms counterculture and New Left over the years as to have been rendered nearly invisible.
posted by zabuni at 12:13 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Didn't somebody prove mathematically that the number of hippies that sold out doubled every year?
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:13 PM on March 11, 2015


For example, tech workers were SUPER ANGRY about BART strikes, which is ostensibly a liberal cause, but it inconvenienced them, so it was bad.

This kind of confusion is probably inevitable when "liberal" becomes a common word for both "liberal" and "leftist." I don't doubt that many tech workers are passionate liberals, but I bet very few of them are leftists. Insofar as labor strikes, for instance, are liberal causes, they're co-opted causes.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:15 PM on March 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


(Even better would be them using their clout to force the communities they build offices in to improve their housing stock, so people didn't have to commute for a half hour on a bus.)

Many of the suburbs in which these tech companies are located are very against new housing development. In fact, Mountain View's city council basically got voted out of office this past year for refusing to increase development.
posted by TypographicalError at 12:16 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah which is INSANE.
posted by kenko at 12:16 PM on March 11, 2015


Moore's Law and all the handwaving over the miracle of exponential growth (yes, we KNOW) doesn't mean that the USES are expanding exponentially. The computers where I work are superfast and jazzy but they're still being used to create terrible Word documents, run the accounting software, make ugly flyers, and futz with spreadsheets in exactly the same way as they did in 1998, only with better screens. Yes, it's a big difference having a world of info at your fingertips, as anyone who's had their phone conk out in the middle of a complicated GPS map journey (with no paper backup, fuck you very much Orange County) can tell you, and a number of tasks are easier or more complete.

But when I read stuff like this, and see the part about translation that, to judge from the market-speak, has already rendered language barriers completely obsolete, I just laugh.
posted by Fnarf at 12:17 PM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


In some local way, yeah, he was right. But on the longer scale, it's absolutely wrong. See the Wozniak quote about computers being only for rich people, and changing that reality. The companies focused on getting big are absolutely aiming at a broad population, which is the antithesis of building brain downloaders just for the rich... Sure, there's a $17,000 Apple watch, but the actual story is the $30 smart phone making its way into Kenya.

Well, sure... but there are still billions of people for whom Apple is still 'those guys who came here to mine our rare Earth metals'.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:17 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I had no idea Dave Eggers had written a dystopian novel about big data. Ima read that junx. Thanks Der Sperger
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:24 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I dunno how we're ever gonna get to that Star Trek utopia without companies like Apple.

And I dunno how we're ever gonna get past this thing where we disavow other humans as being humans for whatever reason.

I guess I just dunno. Does that make me a hippie? I dunno.
posted by valkane at 12:29 PM on March 11, 2015


It's basically another way of pointing out that it's called the bleeding edge for a reason.

Because sometimes you get a paper cut on your tongue when you lick the envelope.
posted by Zed at 12:30 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I had no idea Dave Eggers had written a dystopian novel about big data.

One point he made in that was that sharing is caring has a correlary: privacy is piracy.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:33 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I dunno how we're ever gonna get to that Star Trek utopia without companies like Apple.

yes, how will we ever get to a militarily run probably representative global democracy without these private corporations who hoover up your data and are willing to wage million-dollar battles over intellectual property
posted by runt at 12:33 PM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Insofar as labor strikes, for instance, are liberal causes, they're co-opted causes.

Thinking it over, this is too strong a formulation. I think that insofar as labor strikes in America are liberal causes, they're co-opted causes. Solidarity wasn't co-opted, certainly not to begin with.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:33 PM on March 11, 2015


>> "All watched over by machines of loving grace. That poem is pretty scary now, isn't it? All it needs is a video of drone strikes, with the spoken poem superimposed on them."

Adam Curtis pretty much did that already
posted by spudsilo at 12:36 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


showbiz_liz:
...and for whom cell phones provide a way to send money back to the family without getting robbed, or figure out what crop prices are like before hiking a full day to the market. Meanwhile, internet access gives people a new way to get information about agriculture, coordinate disaster response, and gives the younger generations way to bypass (or augment) severely deficient local universities to get skills that will give them a life other than subsistence farming.

Having worked in East Africa for a few years, I'm pretty strongly convinced that a) computation is still only just arriving in Africa, and b) in the ways it has arrived, it's been by far a net good.

(Also, the rare-earth mining stuff is mostly happening in China.)
posted by kaibutsu at 12:36 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Many of the suburbs in which these tech companies are located are very against new housing development. In fact, Mountain View's city council basically got voted out of office this past year for refusing to increase development.

Yep, but they love all the other benefits (like money, money, and let's not forget money) that these companies provide. Which is why in the end, it's going to take one of these firms to go to the city, and give them a choice: either give us the housing we need, or we go find a location that will.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:39 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


get skills that will give them a life other than subsistence farming

For now, perhaps. The whole point of the automated future utopia is to make "skills" obsolete. It will not, however, be evenly distributed.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:42 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sounds great, until you realize that phone is several cycles behind the current SOTA the wealthy have.

But the information from the internet is still the same.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:49 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


One of my many favorite things about Oakland is that it's just about the only place in America outside of college campuses where people think of/talk of leftism as distinct from and vastly superior to liberalism, rather than just rolling everything that's not reactionary together under the "liberal" rubric.

Re: New Communalists, I've seen Fred Turner give talks a couple of times, and one of the ways he illustrates the character of that branch of the counterculture is by noting that women from communes organized around/associated with the Whole Earth Catalog often mention the radically uneven distribution of work responsibilities within the movement — typically, the men would talk philosophy and politics while the women would bleach the dishes so that they didn't all die of dysentery. Although there's a hell of a lot to admire about the 1960s countercultures, there was also this deeply misogynistic, patriarchal strain, reflecting and often intensifying the misogyny in the mainstream culture that they thought they were building an alternative to. When Stewart Brand and the gang shifted from communalism to tech-industry entrepreneurism, they kept up that tendency; if I may speak broadly and sloppily, both phases of the movement treated work, especially the types of domestic work that get gendered female under patriarchy and the types of low-paid service labor that white supremacist capitalism tends to assign to people of color, as a problem to make other people deal with so that the big thinkers could think their big thoughts. This shades into a hatred for materiality itself — this physical world as a whole becomes seen as a problem to pawn off onto someone or something else, so that the big thinkers can bigthink.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:58 PM on March 11, 2015 [23 favorites]


I think the difficult thing about these conversations for me is that:
a) I agree that Uber is atrocious, and a number of other companies like them,
b) The distribution of wealth needs to be fixed,
c) There's a lot of interesting and necessary visioning of future society that needs to happen,
c) And that the ultrarich shouldn't have a monopoly on that visioning.

But these aren't the conversations people seem to be interested in having. Instead it's petty dart-throwing about buses and tantalum mining...
posted by kaibutsu at 1:06 PM on March 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


Points b through d of your list require staging a successful revolution against the currently ascending fraction of the bourgeoisie, a fraction that very much likes the current distribution of wealth and their monopoly on visions of the future and that is willing to use force to maintain the status quo. And that's a real hard thing to do.

Although trying to suppress tech buses isn't the most effective way to make life harder on the people who hire the people who bus in from Oakland, it's at least something concrete that we can try to build a broader movement around.

Silicon Valley is becoming increasingly less clueless and more cynical about power relations, what they mean, and how to maintain them in their current (mis)configuration. Like, I know more than one Silicon Valley person who completely agrees with Piketty about how we're returning to patrilineal feudalism, but who, by dint of their perceived status as high-level vassals of the ruling families, thinks that returning to overt patrilineal feudalism is a really good idea.1

1: Am I the only one here who knows people who've evolved from Randian Objectivism to overt monarchism? I can't tell if what I'm seeing is an artifact of Silicon Valley on the whole or just an artifact of having friends with uniquely shitty coworkers.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:17 PM on March 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


You Can't Tip A Buick: Sounds like Dark Enlightenment. Run for your life.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:20 PM on March 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


1: Am I the only one here who knows people who've evolved from Randian Objectivism to overt monarchism? I can't tell if what I'm seeing is an artifact of Silicon Valley on the whole or just an artifact of having friends with uniquely shitty coworkers.

Look up Dark Enlightenment. This attitude is not unique, and only becoming more pernicious. Very popular among tech libertarians.
posted by zabuni at 1:20 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Many of the suburbs in which these tech companies are located are very against new housing development. In fact, Mountain View's city council basically got voted out of office this past year for refusing to increase development.

One thing that gets left out when people mention this is: If one person per unit that Google wants to build on campus (so, Google employees) votes in the next city election, they will have the majority. So, Google would not only be the employer, but the landlord of 51%+ of voters. Perhaps MV doesn't want to become more or a company town than they already are.

(Even better would be them using their clout to force the communities they build offices in to improve their housing stock, so people didn't have to commute for a half hour on a bus.)

This is an argument I just don't understand. Do you really think people live 40 miles away from work in place where $4k a month still means dealing with human feces on the sidewalk because Mountain View doesn't have enough available apartments? Rent is MV is considerably less costly than The Mission already, what is more available housing going to do to entice all those people to leave SF and come to the Valley?
posted by sideshow at 1:21 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jinx, Potomac.
posted by zabuni at 1:21 PM on March 11, 2015


Rent is MV is considerably less costly than The Mission already, what is more available housing going to do to entice all those people to leave SF and come to the Valley?

It's less expensive for now. Palo Alto rents passed San Francisco rents a while back, and MV and Menlo Park aren't that far behind.

If I were a rich tech industry dweeb, instead of a poor tech-industry-adjacent dweeb, I'd be looking for an apartment in the city just because of rent control — sure, it's outrageously expensive, but unlike in Palo Alto you've got at least a few protections against getting booted out to make way for someone willing to pay 2000 dollars more a month than what you're paying.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:25 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


But these aren't the conversations people seem to be interested in having. Instead it's petty dart-throwing about buses and tantalum mining...

Tantalum mining seems like a pretty important thing to think about. I kind of agree about the buses though. One way or another what we should have is more people in every occupation taking a bus to work. I get that buses run by private companies have become a symbol of the privileging of certain kinds of workers and as a potential undermining of support for public transportation - I just feel like the way these fights are most likely to end up is with nobody getting private buses and still no public transit.

One of my many favorite things about Oakland is that it's just about the only place in America outside of college campuses where people think of/talk of leftism as distinct from and vastly superior to liberalism, rather than just rolling everything that's not reactionary together under the "liberal" rubric.

Libertarians also like to reclaim "classical liberalism." Which is a component of the "liberalism" that the Left uses as an epithet but that tends to be more about the socially-liberal-and-slightly-more-amenable-to-socialism-than-right-libertarians-but-not-enough. We need to get all these sorted out! Will bringing back "progressive" help?

And don't get me started on "neoliberalism" which, yes, did mean something, but has taken on way too much baggage to be a useful word anymore.
posted by atoxyl at 1:42 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd suggest skimming over some quotes from the Ellen Pao v Kleiner Perkins scandal if you're curious about just how fucked up Silicon Valley is.

We need a Markov mashup along the lines of Erowid Recruiter that combines VC speak, including quotes from Kleiner Perkins personnel, or maybe powerbroker speak more generally, together with ISIS jihadi material. I'd consider alcoholic bums or frat boy, but maybe that's be duplication of effort.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:42 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Meh. Silicon Valley isn't the future, it's a new Detroit. Sure it's hot now, but it's got major problems in diversity that are going to come back and bite it hard.

SV is heavily self-selecting for a corporate culture of young white males. At the same time, as a rough guesstimate at a local university I see about 1/3 of the international CS and EE majors are women. Where are they going? Definitely not to SV start-ups.

Someone somewhere is going to grab that lost talent, and then in about twenty, at most thirty years Kurzweil or the son of Kurzweil will be doing a Lee Iacocca style song and dance in front of Congress, begging for money. Of course the SV start-ups won't be able to rely on anti-labor actions to save money, that ship has sailed

Personally I'm looking forward as a septugenarian to walking through the empty streets of Santa Clara, throwing rocks through cracked windows of vacant decaying buildings that housed once-great tech companies.
posted by happyroach at 1:44 PM on March 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


No wait- global warming. Make that splashing through the deserted streets of Santa Clara.
posted by happyroach at 1:47 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


The author keeps talking about this grand vision that the CEOs and bosses of these companies have, but only in laughably vague and PR-optimized ways. Finally, something honest escapes the gravitation of utterly disingenuous moral earnestness:

In 2009, Thiel published an essay called "The Education of a Libertarian". In it, he writes, "We are in a deadly race between politics and technology". The fate of our world may depend on the effort of a single person who builds or propagates the "machinery of freedom that makes the world safe for capitalism."

There is very little actually new about what these people want or plan. They want to live forever, or at least a handful of them think that's actually plausible, and they want control. Not because they are geniuses, but because extremely smart, extremely ambitious people are the ones who get into these positions and they will consolidate all the power they can unless someone stops them. In that sense, they're not unlike animals who would literally eat themselves to death if given unmoderated access to an effectively infinite supply of food.

The problem we have is that because of the international structure of wealth creation and distribution, and the national-level limitations of government, nobody can effectively check these people. They need to be checked not because they're evil -- though some definitely are, and others are just morally neutral -- but because having power relations that are as unequal as wealth distributions is morally and practically untenable. Wealth and power cannot be allowed to be synonymous. This is exactly why we have democracy: because social standing and power were untenable as synonyms, too. Social power needs autonomy from other realms, and if it doesn't have that, political disaster is inevitable.
posted by clockzero at 1:48 PM on March 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


Libertarians also like to reclaim "classical liberalism." Which is a component of the "liberalism" that the Left uses as an epithet but that tends to be more about the socially-liberal-and-slightly-more-amenable-to-socialism-than-right-libertarians-but-not-enough. We need to get all these sorted out! Will bringing back "progressive" help?

In my opinion the important distinction between left and liberal is one's attitude toward the idea of abstract equality before the market. If one thinks that abstract equality before the market is a dead letter in the face of real inequality — that the market is inherently antidemocratic — one is on the left and correct. If one thinks that the market is a good idea at its core but needs regulation to fix certain flaws or excesses, one is a liberal and wrong.

When I'm talking with well-meaning people outside of my favorite places (Oakland, college campuses, Metafilter), I tend to use whatever language they're using to sort left from right and right from wrong, because stopping conversation in order to insist on proper terminology is often unproductive/a real dick move. But nevertheless, man do I feel good when I'm in spaces where I get to use language more precisely.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:51 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


One thing that gets left out when people mention this is: If one person per unit that Google wants to build on campus (so, Google employees) votes in the next city election, they will have the majority. So, Google would not only be the employer, but the landlord of 51%+ of voters. Perhaps MV doesn't want to become more or a company town than they already are.

Those deals with the devil sure do suck, don't they? If they're worried about becoming Google, CA, then perhaps they might want to start diversifying and attracting other people to live there.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:52 PM on March 11, 2015


If they're worried about becoming Google, CA, then perhaps they might want to start diversifying and attracting other people to live there.

Given that the Google, CA gang has driven housing prices into the stratosphere, anyone else they could attract to their town will without a doubt be fully as loathsome as the worst tech industry libertarians. Like basically the only people who can afford to move to Silicon Valley right now are 1) reprehensible tech money and 2) reprehensible old money.

If I were in charge of Mountain View — like, if I actually assembled that Marxist goon squad I'm always talking about — I'd counteract the Google, CA tendency by taxing the shit out of them and using the proceeds to build a hundred thousand new units of low-income housing. But this will never happen (modulo goon squad), because living near poor people is the one thing that the aging Bay Area liberals who own property in MV hate more than anything else in the world.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:59 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]




This is really weird.

I didn't bother to finish the article because it was just recapitulating the obvious for ignorant outsiders. Yes, yes, this is how it's always been; are you really now just noticing?

I am surprised that this is news to people on Metafilter, since I've always imagined Metafilter to be part of the culture this article is describing. The vitriol in this thread is... unexpected. Perhaps that's because I joined up back when blogs were new and the internet wasn't really mainstream, and there was more of a separate society on the internet.

Of course this generation of entrepreneurs are contemptuous of regulation, more interested in routing around traditional government than in playing along with it. For most of my life, everything the US government has ever done or tried to do with respect to computers and networking has been ineffective or actively harmful, rooted in ignorance, conservatism, and fear. When the feds come knocking you know they're just going to break things, and state governments are even worse; the best thing they could do is to stay out of the way.

Of course Travis Kalanick is running roughshod over things like Portland's ban on uber and whatnot. He's trying to build something awesome, he can see exactly what it is and how to get there, and the whole point of this kind of company is that you go off in search of the awesome and overcome whatever obstacles are in the way. Bullshit regulations are just another kind of obstacle to engineer your way around.

There's this attitude I see a lot in liberal communities which misidentifies a government with the society it presides over, as though merely being derived in a theoretical sense from the "consent of the governed" means that the specific choices made by state actors actually represent the wishes and best interests of the people subject to their rule. But this is obviously crap, if you watch the way regulations actually get made; safety regulations are typically the result of news-cycle hysteria, and business regulations are typically established to protect incumbents. This may contribute to stability in society and keep people happy but it is never going to earn any respect from people who can see a better future ahead if only we build this and that and plug them together.

Democratic government may derive in theory from the consent of the governed, but actual power depends on the respect of the governed. Ambitious people who respect you will take your plan and run with it; ambitious people who think you're an idiot will either subvert you or leave.

The entire personal computer industry as we know it today occurred because people didn't wait around for society at large to approve of what they were doing, and simply built the hot new tech as fast as they could. There was whining and moaning and gnashing of teeth the entire time about What It All Means, and the powers that be made it very clear that they had no idea what was going on and were prepared to act like imbeciles if it supported their power or the power of existing industries. (BBS raids, hacker crackdown, crypto wars, video game freakouts, DMCA, software patents, MP3 lawsuits...)

Given that background, yes, of course, the silicon valley tech industry and its cultural outposts in other cities are full of people who see the interference of people from outside the industry as shortsighted bullshit, just another obstacle to route around, and who are not interested in negotiating with institutions who have yet to prove themselves worthy of respect. And so they are carrying on as fast as they can building the awesome future they want to live in, and making money by selling it to the rest of us.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:26 PM on March 11, 2015 [15 favorites]


One of my many favorite things about Oakland is that it's just about the only place in America outside of college campuses where people think of/talk of leftism as distinct from and vastly superior to liberalism, rather than just rolling everything that's not reactionary together under the "liberal" rubric.

So does that make Berkeley an extended part of Oakland, or an overgrown college campus?
posted by Apocryphon at 2:37 PM on March 11, 2015


Of course Travis Kalanick is running roughshod over things like Portland's ban on uber and whatnot. He's trying to build something awesome, he can see exactly what it is and how to get there, and the whole point of this kind of company is that you go off in search of the awesome and overcome whatever obstacles are in the way. Bullshit regulations are just another kind of obstacle to engineer your way around...And so they are carrying on as fast as they can building the awesome future they want to live in, and making money by selling it to the rest of us.

Oh good god, yuck. The whole point is that plenty of people don't agree with them that the future they are building is so "awesome," but they simply don't give a fuck. And you're surprised at the vitriol? Now who's not paying attention.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:40 PM on March 11, 2015 [17 favorites]


Although there's a hell of a lot to admire about the 1960s countercultures, there was also this deeply misogynistic, patriarchal strain

Wasn't most of mainstream hippie culture simply just white middle class youth appropriation of non-white spirituality and cargo cult exoticism? They don't sound any more sympathetic than modern hipsters for the most part, really.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:42 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am surprised that this is news to people on Metafilter, since I've always imagined Metafilter to be part of the culture this article is describing. The vitriol in this thread is... unexpected. Perhaps that's because I joined up back when blogs were new and the internet wasn't really mainstream, and there was more of a separate society on the internet. [...]

Given that background, yes, of course, the silicon valley tech industry and its cultural outposts in other cities are full of people who see the interference of people from outside the industry as shortsighted bullshit, just another obstacle to route around, and who are not interested in negotiating with institutions who have yet to prove themselves worthy of respect. And so they are carrying on as fast as they can building the awesome future they want to live in, and making money by selling it to the rest of us.


Alternately, there existed a separate culture on the Internet, centered around academia, with ideals derived from the academic left, and with the sweet wooly-headed naivety of academia, and this separate culture was hijacked by a bunch of really nasty-minded hucksters who realized they could use the rhetoric of the Internet to make a ton of money. See, to take one glaring example, how Stallmanite Free Software got turned into libertarian Open Source software over the course of the late 90s/early 2000s).

Moreover, you're eliding here the role that state funding (through the military and through public funding of academic research) had on the development of the toys that the hucksters have made their wad on. The people you are crediting for building the Internet didn't build it, they stole it. Of course, it's the way of capitalism to give credit to work for the people who stole it rather than the people who did it...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:43 PM on March 11, 2015 [28 favorites]


I mean, come on. The "awesome future" they envision is the one where they are rich and in charge. Super awesome.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:43 PM on March 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


Of course Travis Kalanick is running roughshod over things like Portland's ban on uber and whatnot. He's trying to build something awesome, he can see exactly what it is and how to get there, and the whole point of this kind of company is that you go off in search of the awesome and overcome whatever obstacles are in the way. Bullshit regulations are just another kind of obstacle to engineer your way around.

Awesome for who, exactly? One of the repeated criticisms of this vein of startup is that they seem to be crafted to meet the needs of the young, single, mainly male population of Silicon Valley, without any care about the rest of the people in our society. And considering some of the serious issues with Uber - the high rating requirements, the lax data security, the cutting of driver pay to fuel a price war - it's looking like things are only awesome for some of the people.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:43 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Mars Saxman, the first generation of automobile manufacturers was not too concerned with speed limits, safety, emissions standards, or labor practices (beyond what was beneficial for their own business success). When the government takes a critical and truly conservative approach (not a politically "conservative" approach) to industry, of course they are going to slow things down, meddle, delay, inhibit. You know what a governor on a machine does? Keeps the machine from spinning so fast that it rips itself apart.

I have no illusions about the benevolence of the government, but I have a much dimmer view of the so-called "ambitious" individuals you describe who sneer at the very idea of being governed, or of being accountable to anyone but themselves. The politicians, bureaucrats and peons of the government might not be worthy of respect, but the RULE OF FUCKING LAW deserves respect.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 2:44 PM on March 11, 2015 [15 favorites]


Rent is MV is considerably less costly than The Mission already, what is more available housing going to do to entice all those people to leave SF and come to the Valley?

I thought the whole point for young people moving into the city in the first place was because the suburban wastes from Palo Alto down to San Jose were already very expensive, and that got the whole ball rolling on S.F. turning into a youth town, and now people want to move there not because of it being cheaper but because all of the other young people living there. But the point is South Bay is on par with the priciness. You work in Cupertino, rents there and Sunnyvale are pretty crazy compared to the rest of the country as it is.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:45 PM on March 11, 2015


Personally I'm looking forward as a septugenarian to walking through the empty streets of Santa Clara, throwing rocks through cracked windows of vacant decaying buildings that housed once-great tech companies.

ooh ooh now write a vivid tableau of the downfall of Hollywood from the rise of home videos and the rise of the Betamax camcorder
posted by Apocryphon at 2:50 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Relevant Pictures For Sad Children. john's so great.
posted by johnnydummkopf at 2:50 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


The whole point is that plenty of people don't agree with them that the future they are building is so "awesome," but they simply don't give a fuck

They, like the rest of us, give a fuck about the opinions of people they respect, and care little about the opinions of people who don't know what they're talking about. Which, historically, has been pretty much everyone outside the industry, often to a comical degree.

That certainly creates some problems, as NoxAeturnum observes, because the industry is not representative of society at large, and so its efforts to solve the most interesting problems available disproportionately benefit the sorts of people who work in the industry... but you have to demonstrate that you understand what they're doing before they'll listen to your advice about what they should be doing instead.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:55 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


you have to demonstrate that you understand what they're doing before they'll listen to your advice about what they should be doing instead.

Oh, good, that should be an easy standard to satisfy.
posted by TypographicalError at 2:58 PM on March 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


Mars tbh the picture you're painting of cool cyberdudes with near-terminal engineer's disease makes me hate the tech industry even more than I already did and I am impressed, impressed, impressed
posted by beefetish at 2:58 PM on March 11, 2015 [14 favorites]


you have to demonstrate that you understand what they're doing before they'll listen to your advice about what they should be doing instead.

Gee, what can't this be used to justify?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:03 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


but you have to demonstrate that you understand what they're doing before they'll listen to your advice about what they should be doing instead.

Oh, we do understand what they are doing. The thing to remember is this - someone who sees regulations as "just another kind of obstacle to engineer your way around" is someone who fundamentally does not respect the rule of law.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:06 PM on March 11, 2015 [14 favorites]


I am surprised that this is news to people on Metafilter, since I've always imagined Metafilter to be part of the culture this article is describing. The vitriol in this thread is... unexpected.

There must be plenty of Metafilter people who would be counted as libertarian engineer SV types even at this late date of 2015, but most of them have zero interest in a thread on 'technocratic capitalism'. I mean, you can pour scorn on the high priests of the singularity or whatevs, but all someone not deeply ensconced in Left thought will take away from that is that this is just like all those other religious arguments they hate having.
posted by topynate at 3:08 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ah, yeah.

Between idiocy like the DCMA and death of Aaron Schwartz, I don't think the lack of respect for the federal government in the tech community is all that mysterious. Throw that alongside the utter transparency through which money from big ag, big pharma, big military, big prison, and (to a lesser extent, imho) big tech set the course of public policy, and it's hard to keep much respect for the 'rule of law,' gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands aside.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:13 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the problem is there's no shortage of bad actors. You've got startup douchebags, angel investor libertarian/crypto-neoreactionary braniacs, the traditional CEOs of tech giants, our PRISM guard federal government that wiretaps at the drop of the hat, internet civil rights hacktivists who fight the good fight against all of these big entities but are often pro-free speech to the point they'd turn a blind eye to all of the bad stuff on reddit/the chans/GamerGate et al.

Given this current state of affairs, who shouldn't MetaFilter hate on?
posted by Apocryphon at 3:21 PM on March 11, 2015


Mars Saxman: Just because people are similar to each other does not mean that they like each other. It means that they are forced to have fairly strong feelings about each other, either way, that they are forced to hate or love. (I will say that hate is not the opposite of love: not giving a shit is the opposite of love) Demographically and sociospatially, there are close propinquities between the MeFi crowd and the, for a lack of a better word for it, the Hacker News crowd.

It seems also an essential feature of the forum medium that it does not often make for fundamentally compassionate discussions, but those are not incredibly common outside of glowing rectangular screens anyways. Is this a contingent fact of the current state of our society? I don't know.

I think that there is a fundamental heterogeneity in opinion which is produced from a powerful cybernetic process, and that there has been long- standing a fundamental heterogeneity in opinion because people with lots of knowledge will fundamentally diverge in ways of interpreting that knowledge, because knowledge comes with values and you shouldn't pretend that this doesn't happen. Fundamental rifts occur in large social communities as predictably as large sandpiles collapse, and in the same way each time. The link, I think, is more than merely metaphorical. If you map any organic social network with any reasonable nodes of human agents and any reasonable links of relations between social agents, it creates a fractal structure on the adjacency matrix of the graph, every time (this is a restatement of the fact that the degree distribution of any such social networks have a fat tail). I don't know whether that says anything.

Engineering exists as a mode of thought and practice which has had radically differential amounts of success depending on the problem. And not a division between social and non-social problems, because the logical causes and consequences of any complex problem proliferates. Ha-Joon Chang makes the case that washing machines, electric appliances, piped water distribution, and birth control were the fundamental basis of feminism that allowed enough free time for women for feminism to proliferate (that allowed enough free time for B Friedan to point out that being a housewife was terrible and for other women to realize this) and hold the culture better than the proto-feminist movements: but engineers invented and made those. Is his analysis correct? I don't know. Sheer chance says no, but it's an interesting idea. Is this a mere dialectical materialism? I don't know.

I think that the noncontroversial statement to make is that the Pill and control over reproduction was essential to women's liberation and was created by revolutionary doctors and chemists. I don't know whether those count as engineers in this example.

I will repeat that it's not the case that libertarianism has a uniform hold on those in power, even in the higher echelons of the tech companies, and I suspect not even the love of capitalism (M Flannery of Kiva studied in Deleuze's public classes, I recall). And it should hopefully always be the case that most people's political opinions should be relatively mild, and it will always be the case that people are hypocrites, or at least it's been that way for millennia. I don't think an ideology that can't handle this can long survive, whatever the ideology.

There's often calls to teach engineers and technologists ethics in order to make their actions more justified and their thoughts about technology more in line with other people's thought. I do not think this is effective, in the same way that I do not think that education interventions for obesity are effective. Systemic effects of money morph the ethical environment of the engineer, just as systemic effects of food advertising and the built environment and sleep deficit (meaning, the light environment) and the pharmaceutical environment morph the decision calculus of the person who eats in modern society.

When have those sorts of systemic problems been solved by engineering? I don't know. When have those sorts of systemic problems been solved by social action? I don't know. I think that there exist many examples of both, actually, it's just that the complexity of a complex problem also makes it hard to delineate its boundaries.
posted by curuinor at 3:38 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


What happens when one person routing around problems to build awesome, hits another person routing around problems to make awesome, and they don't agree on what awesome is?

I seem to recall the one about making a rock so heavy that He couldn't....

Please forgive me, for a moment I forgot that Mt. Olympus houses a pantheon, contra Mt. Sinai.

My money's on Vajrapani, though.
posted by wuwei at 3:43 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Awesome for who, exactly?

It's not Awesome for anybody, really. It's just AAAAAAAAAWESOME!!! Kinds of like how back in the 90s we had EXTREEEEEEME!!! From pretty much the same impulse, and it'll last about as long.

Like basically the only people who can afford to move to Silicon Valley right now are 1) reprehensible tech money and 2) reprehensible old money.

Seriously there's relatively inexpensive housing in nearby East Palo Alto and East San Jose. But for some reason those Capitalists of the Future don't want to live there. Something about the water I take it.
posted by happyroach at 3:47 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seriously though I don't see why anyone is giving any credit whatsoever to Silicon Valley's propaganda about having world-saving motivations. Silicon Valley is about individual motivations to get and stay individually rich and powerful, not about hypothetical social motivations to make things in any way better for anyone who's not well-connected. Everything else is a line of patter used to distract the rubes.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:49 PM on March 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


Seriously there's relatively inexpensive housing in nearby East Palo Alto and East San Jose. But for some reason those Capitalists of the Future don't want to live there. Something about the water I take it.
posted by happyroach at 3:47 PM on March 11 [+] [!]

This statement is at least two years out of date. Rents in EPA and San Jose are spiking just like rents in the rest of the Bay Area these days.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:50 PM on March 11, 2015


(Every time anyone gets all techno-utopian on me, I start talking about Google's military robots and asking people just how they think those are likely to be used and on who. It cuts that "don't be evil" and "but but smartphones" shit right out.)

I don't want to be a Google apologist here, but this is a myth. Boston Dynamics was working on DARPA contracts before Google bought them. The sad truth is that one of the biggest ways we fund research in the US is through military contracts. Even universities doing research need "defense" money.

To Google's credit, they stopped taking DARPA money shortly after being bought. So I don't think it would be fair to say Google has "military robots". Heck, even with military funding, I don't think Boston Dynamics ever put a weapon on anything.
posted by heathkit at 3:51 PM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


There's often calls to teach engineers and technologists ethics in order to make their actions more justified and their thoughts about technology more in line with other people's thought. I do not think this is effective, in the same way that I do not think that education interventions for obesity are effective.

That's very interesting, because in a recent Hacker News thread about an article urging that more STEM majors should study liberal arts as well, someone claims-

STEM disciplines are in the analytic philosophy tradition (at least the ones that are any good). For the most part, liberal arts are in the continental philosophy tradition (this wasn't always the case).
There can be no peace, or even understanding between the two schools of thought.


and someone else says

It's closer to say that the analytic philosophy tradition grew out of STEM (especially M) roots, via people like Russel and Whitehead. "Analytic philosophy" is a phenomenon of the 20th century, while STEM fields go back anywhere from centuries to millenia.

I do agree that the current (and hopefully transient) dominance of continental philosophy in the liberal arts makes it more difficult for people in those areas to grasp STEM fields, and would furthermore say that since "STEM people need more liberal arts training!" has been the call for my entire decades-long career (and likely before) there is unlikely to ever be anything that satisfies people. I've been in grad courses in philosophy where a solid minority of students were from the sciences, but never seen more than one or two people (always from philosophy) even in undergrad physics classes.

It's time to turn things around and say, "Liberal arts people need more STEM training! No one should be able to graduate from university who doesn't have at least some grounding in math, computing and a science." Unfortunately, if you extend this requirement beyond "physics for poets" the graduation rate drops to nearly zero, despite there being English, music, philosophy and history majors out there who make wickedly good software developers. But they are such a tiny minority as to barely count.


Sounds like conspiracy theorizing and rank tribalism, but it does demonstrate the very much divided nature of the literati right now.

Incidentally, I think viewing HN and MeFi and directly oppositional in political views is very inaccurate; most comment threads have a healthy number of both liberal and leftist commentators.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:54 PM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am surprised that this is news to people on Metafilter, since I've always imagined Metafilter to be part of the culture this article is describing.

You might consider that a lot of people here are probably non-Libertarian software types, in the SFBA even, and hence have a particular familiar contempt for this shit.
posted by atoxyl at 3:56 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Of course this generation of entrepreneurs are contemptuous of regulation, more interested in routing around traditional government than in playing along with it.

And a good example of this "routing around traditional government" was Steve Jobs conspiring secretly with his fellow entrepreneurs to illegally price-fix the wages of his employees. It seems that "contemptuous of regulation" is a euphemism for freedom to screw other people for profit.
posted by JackFlash at 4:17 PM on March 11, 2015 [16 favorites]


Heck, even with military funding, I don't think Boston Dynamics ever put a weapon on anything.

They didn't have to. They had the weapon of sheer terror.
posted by brundlefly at 4:25 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


oh man, sooo many jobs are going to be lost
posted by angrycat at 4:40 PM on March 11, 2015


Also, when you refer to democratically elected representative government as "traditional government," you betray an ignorance or (perhaps worse) dismissal of history common to techno libertarians. For most of human history, "government" has consisted of powerful individuals capable of doing and willing to do almost anything they wanted to do. You know, like these guys.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:54 PM on March 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


See, this is the thing. I've always viewed politics, world building, and any concept for the future where someone espouses 'this great thing will save us all' as somebody taking a very grandiose look at the surface and ignoring all the moving parts. If you want to know what your idea results in, iteratively run your idea to the absurd. Republicans imagine a world where liberals refuse to work and have death panels. That is almost ludicrous, except when you think about it, at some point somebody somewhere will abuse the system to get that level a response, and a clerk that views a procedure as too costly, to experimental and inefficient and thus refuses to cover it serves as a death panel. Contrapositive to that, follow the conservative idea of a gun toting population who aren't taxed and you see a reason that people make jokes about 'Guns and Gold' as being the only two stable republican commodities. These 'neo liberal' (also known as libertarian) silicon valley disruptors throw a nice monkey wrench at the problem by basically creating a new feedback loop of absurdity which closer resembles a game of Paranoia than it does an elevated society. Alone - one of these ideas might be good. Together, what a bunch of chucklefucks.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:56 PM on March 11, 2015


What do you think about the singularity though? I haven't really read anything deeply about it so I don't know what the most convincing arguments for it are, but it seems like the pipe dream of people who worship intelligence. When we create the super intelligent computer and I ask it how to live a better life and it says "eat more apples and exercise" won't I ignore it the same way I do my doctor?

That example doesn't cover everything, but I don't see how having a super intelligence will change the fact of human self determination. It doesn't seem like lack of intelligence is what is causing all the problems in the world. I could put laziness, fear, stubbornness, and desire for self-preservation and the preservation of loved ones before stupidity for a start. How does the singularity help with that? Can the singularity solve the problem of collective action?
posted by macrael at 5:59 PM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


To Google's credit, they stopped taking DARPA money shortly after being bought. So I don't think it would be fair to say Google has "military robots". Heck, even with military funding, I don't think Boston Dynamics ever put a weapon on anything.

Okay, I am a terrible person because I said I would not comment and now I am. It's true, I misspoke about Boston Dynamics - they are not literally developing military technology for the Pentagon or taking military funds. But I would be absolutely astonished if the work they are doing does not end up in military contractor or police hands, given Google's general security state collaboration and given how useful all that stuff is going to be. This article from the WSJ seems to suggest (at the bottom) that Google robots are getting repurposed at one remove into the Pentagon robotics competition and it sounds as though Pentagon officials are anticipating being able to access Google robotics technology for military applications even if it's not specifically designed for them and even if it costs them more.

(Also, frankly, I think any big, multi-purpose tech company is eventually going to have to have either to have a military/police development program or to be closely tied in with one, because what's going to happen with increasing inequality is huge pullulating cities full of miserable people with very little to lose, and those are people who are going to riot - whether political riots or religious riots, whether left or right. And then there's the whole matter of keeping order in the huge pullulating cities, which is where I surmise that robots will substantially supplement cops and private security humans.

I think security is going to be a huge, huge problem as automation goes further, because we're not going to get three day weeks and minimum income and that means a larger and larger percentage of people who can't afford to do normal human things or live in safe, low-stress conditions. Right now it's not considered politic to say that, but it's very clearly coming down the road, because it will be necessary to keep the lid on. )
posted by Frowner at 6:44 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think the idea is that rapidly exploding runaway exponentially increasing superhuman intelligence will be able to invent nano-machines that literally behave like magic. I call upon MeFi's own Charles Stross to the thread to explain it.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:45 PM on March 11, 2015


Also, when you refer to democratically elected representative government as "traditional government," you betray an ignorance or (perhaps worse) dismissal of history common to techno libertarians. For most of human history, "government" has consisted of powerful individuals capable of doing and willing to do almost anything they wanted to do. You know, like these guys.

Personally, my politics run more toward feminism and anarchism, and I am deeply suspicious of all power hierarchies. Democratically elected representative government is better than non-democratic, non-elected, or non-representative government, but any sort of government founded on force and coercion still represents a power hierarchy, and I am certain we can do better.

My critique of technolibertarian capitalism rests more on the "capitalism" side: I find it really frustrating that we've rolled out this global communication network and built this massive array of computing power with which we can radically improve our society, and yet pretty much all people seem to care about is making money. Who gives a shit? That's no revolution - there are plenty of ways to make money already! What excites me about computers and the internet is the possibility of destroying businesses: building cooperative structures that satisfy the same needs without needing profit-making hierarchy-based corporations to manage them.

From my perspective, then, government interference is just as big a problem as corporate interference, because the end game is to render both of them irrelevant.
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:28 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


'Michigan Democrats Name Ford For Senate.'

-New York Times. Thursday. June 13, 1918.
posted by clavdivs at 7:55 PM on March 11, 2015


you have to demonstrate that you understand what they're doing before they'll listen to your advice about what they should be doing instead.

Oh, good, that should be an easy standard to satisfy.


It is, actually. You demonstrate that you understand what they're doing by agreeing with them.
posted by nicolas.bray at 8:46 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've always viewed the Singularity as the Silicon Valley version of the Rapture. Paulina Borsook makes that case in Cyberselfish (where Kurzweil makes an appearance or two). One of her arguments is that Silicon Valley is a deeply religious place, even if its God isn't the traditional one(s).
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:45 AM on March 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


I agree with Sebastian Thrun that "It's not the naysayers, but the optimists who .. change the world," that we should be tackling the hard problems, and that politicians are part of the problem, but..

There is a fundamental problem that "doing it the quick and easy way" is often highly problematic. We accept this with environmental concerns, well presumably they'd all accept that nuclear bombs make problematic excavation tools.

We similarly observe that building social networking applications like email, facebook, etc. through the quick and dirty technique of merely storing plain text invites surveillance and fascism. It's fun to imagine building hyperloops and floating cities, but these guys all ignore "hard problems" their own industry creates, and could address relatively easily, in the form of "information pollution".
posted by jeffburdges at 5:49 AM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


But their worldview is a libertarian one, in the tradition of radical thinkers such as Noam Chomsky, Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek.

"One of these things is not like the others..."
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:55 AM on March 12, 2015


Yup. Chomsky is the only leftist, Rand the only non-academic, Hayek the only actual libertarian.
posted by topynate at 7:43 AM on March 12, 2015


Personally, my politics run more toward feminism and anarchism, and I am deeply suspicious of all power hierarchies. Democratically elected representative government is better than non-democratic, non-elected, or non-representative government, but any sort of government founded on force and coercion still represents a power hierarchy, and I am certain we can do better.

And I'm pretty sure that you won't, because organization is the force multiplier. You see the pattern repeat over and over - once you get beyond a small group, one of three things happens - overt structure evolves to get shit done, structure is impeded from forming and the whole thing collapses (the Occupy scenario), or the worst case scenario - a covert structure forms while the group appears to have little to no structure from the outside (see Zappo's, Valve, pretty much every high school ever). The last is the worst because a covert power structure is much more insidious and difficult to deal with.

(By the way, does anyone know who is heading up Valve's new VR initiative? Because what happened to their first one was a great example of the dangers of sexism and covert structure, and if they have a guy helming things now, well...they can get fucked for all I care.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:34 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


you have to demonstrate that you understand what they're doing before they'll listen to your advice about what they should be doing instead.
Oh, good, that should be an easy standard to satisfy.
It is, actually. You demonstrate that you understand what they're doing by agreeing with them


Sounds like the humans of Silicon Valley are a lot like other humans.
posted by weston at 11:59 AM on March 12, 2015


Sounds like the humans of Silicon Valley are a lot like other humans.
posted by weston at 11:59 AM on March 12 [+] [!]


Yes. The influential humans of Silicon Valley are pretty much exactly like the most stupid and narcissistic humans you'll find anywhere.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:54 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


(By the way, does anyone know who is heading up Valve's new VR initiative? Because what happened to their first one was a great example of the dangers of sexism and covert structure, and if they have a guy helming things now, well...they can get fucked for all I care.)

Is this about Jeri Ellsworth? My impression was that what her team was/is working on and what Valve is doing now are quite different and that her firing from Valve was the end result of internal politics over which approach they were going to go with. I'm not saying there's necessarily no sexism behind which initiative was favored - she hasn't said much about what happened but she is the one who compared Valve to high school - but it's not as if they just got rid of her and hired some guy to pick up her project. In fact they let her keep the rights and continue the work with her own startup.
posted by atoxyl at 2:04 PM on March 12, 2015


Is this about Jeri Ellsworth? My impression was that what her team was/is working on and what Valve is doing now are quite different and that her firing from Valve was the end result of internal politics over which approach they were going to go with. I'm not saying there's necessarily no sexism behind which initiative was favored - she hasn't said much about what happened but she is the one who compared Valve to high school - but it's not as if they just got rid of her and hired some guy to pick up her project. In fact they let her keep the rights and continue the work with her own startup.

While I know that they let her have the tech and all, their announcement still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I remember reading the stuff about the shadow organization of Valve that she had to deal with, and it just disgusted me.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:32 PM on March 12, 2015


Jerri Ellsworth on the hidden hierarchy at Valve.
posted by wuwei at 5:55 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Article runs off the rails with :

"That's why it's essential that this dialogue over the future be led politically and no longer just technologically. Only those who have clear political guidelines are reasonably secure from perpetually wavering back and forth between hysterical euphoria and panic-driven pessimism."

Are you seriously dependent upon politicians to arbitrate anything like this? And you expect them not to be panic driven?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:37 PM on March 12, 2015


I'm thrilled Uber has solid competition :
Uber rival Lyft raises $530 million in latest funding round
posted by jeffburdges at 3:20 AM on March 13, 2015


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