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Sorry about the Internet

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    Sorry about the Internet

    An Apology for the Internet — From the People Who Built It

    This is a pretty big article and I hope you all take the time to read it eventually (it's worth it!) here's a highly abbreviated overview:

    How It Went Wrong, in 15 Steps
    ------------------------------

    Step 1: Start With Hippie Good Intentions …

    The Silicon Valley dream was born of the counterculture. A generation of computer programmers and designers flocked to the Bay Area’s tech scene in the 1970s and ’80s, embracing new technology as a tool to transform the world for good.

    ------------------------------

    Step 2: ...Then mix in capitalism on steroids

    To transform the world, you first need to take it over. The planetary scale and power envisioned by Silicon Valley’s early hippies turned out to be as well suited for making money as they were for saving the world.

    ------------------------------

    Step 3: The arrival of Wall Streeters didn't help...

    Just as Facebook became the first overnight social-media success, the stock market crashed, sending money-minded investors westward toward the tech industry. Before long, a handful of companies had created a virtual monopoly on digital life.

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    Step 4: ...And we paid a high price for keeping it free

    To avoid charging for the internet — while becoming fabulously rich at the same time — Silicon Valley turned to digital advertising. But to sell ads that target individual users, you need to grow a big audience — and use advancing technology to gather reams of personal data that will enable you to reach them efficiently.

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    Step 5: Everything was designed to be really, really addictive

    The social-media giants became “attention merchants,” bent on hooking users no mater the consequences. “Engagement” was the euphemism for the metric, but in practice it evolved into an unprecedented machine for behavior modification.

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    Step 6: At first, it worked - almost too well

    None of the companies hid their plans or lied about how their money was made. But as users became deeply enmeshed in the increasingly addictive web of surveillance, the leading digital platforms became wildly popular.

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    Step 7: No one in Silicon Valley was held responsible

    No one in the government — or, for that matter, in the tech industry’s user base — seemed interested in bringing such a wealthy, dynamic sector to heel.

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    Step 8: ...Even as social networks became dangerous and toxic

    With companies scaling at unprecedented rates, user security took a backseat to growth and engagement. Resources went to selling ads, not protecting users from abuse.

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    Step 9: ...And even as they invaded our privacy

    The more features Facebook and other platforms added, the more data users willingly, if unwittingly, released to them and the data brokers who power digital advertising.

    ------------------------------

    Step 10: Then came 2016

    The election of Donald Trump and the triumph of Brexit, two campaigns powered in large part by social media, demonstrated to tech insiders that connecting the world — at least via an advertising-surveillance scheme — doesn’t necessarily lead to that hippie utopia.

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    Step 11: Employees are starting to revolt

    Tech-industry executives aren’t likely to bite the hand that feeds them. But maybe their employees — the ones who signed up for the mission as much as the money — can rise up and make a change.

    ------------------------------

    Step 12: To fix it, we'll need a new business model...

    If the problem is in the way the Valley makes money, it’s going to have to make money a different way. Maybe by trying something radical and new — like charging users for goods and services.

    ------------------------------

    Step 13: ...And some tough regulation

    While we’re at it, where has the government been in all this?

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    Step 14: Maybe nothing will change

    The scariest possibility is that nothing can be done — that the behemoths of the new internet are too rich, too powerful, and too addictive for anyone to fix.

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    Step 15: ...Unless, at the very least, some new people are in charge.

    If Silicon Valley’s problems are a result of bad decision-making, it might be time to look for better decision-makers. One place to start would be outside the homogeneous group currently in power.
    Rusakov's Signature
    "You drongos will have to do better than that if you want to beat the devil!"-Hugh Dawkins, alias: Tasmanian Devil
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