Clever, But Not Wise

Cathy O’Neill makes a great point about various tech bro overlords (boldface mine):

The way I see it, these guys — and they are mostly guys — were arbitrarily chosen. They started with some good ideas, some luck, great timing, got lots of people to believe in their rosy vision, and they won the unicorn lottery. Little did they know or care what problems they were creating. And now, they’re being asked to solve — or acknowledge, or something — some really big issues, such as what to do about people who use their platforms to meddle in elections or spread lies, paranoia, bigotry and straight-up hate.

The world expects great things of them, because they’re supposed to be geniuses. Problem is, they’re not. There’s nothing they can do except apologize, turn off their big machines and walk away. I doubt they’ll do that. Instead, they’re manufacturing baloney explanations about how they’ll use more technology, or maybe more people, to handle the civic duties they had hoped to avoid…

They all started out wanting to make the world a better place using cool technology, and here they are, dealing with all of this democracy and public responsibility stuff, which they never signed up for and honestly don’t have the chops to handle.

I’m not saying I would have the chops to handle this, but it’s pretty clear they can’t handle the responsibility their power has thrust upon them. Wisdom is the recognition that you’re not the smartest guy in the room all of the time, that to solve–or at least mitigate–many problems requires ceding power and authority to others, something the world’s richest people are reluctant to do. So “baloney explanations” it is then…

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