Miscellaneous post 1

World Without Mind, The Existential Threat of Big Tech
By Franklin Foer

The philosophy and thought forms of Silicon Valley are threatening to destroy something precious. In hastening the merger between man and machine, America’s tech companies are seeking to mould us in their image of humanity. Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (GAFA) are assimilating us into the hive mind. It’s their algorithms that suggest the news we read, the ideas we share, the conversations and friends we invite into our circle. This is Franklin Foer's warning flare in the prologue to ‘World Without Mind’. What we stand to lose, as our attention is captured online for large parts of the day, is the possibility of contemplation.

What is at stake, according to Foer, is our individuality. The automated choices presented to us on the web obfuscate our potential for creativity and diversity. Behind the rhetoric of empowering the ‘user’, the focus is on the network and our collective data, with scant regard for the individual. The philosophy fuelling the ambitions of the dominant tech companies collapses privacy, undermines the value of authorship and disrespects intellectual property. Our tastes, opinions and predilections are manipulated and click-baited. We are mere users, addicts who are served up lists of BuzzFeed fodder.