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Collectively, the world is waking up to the problems of big tech, and the challenges that lay ahead. But to understand what the problems are, and how to overcome them, we need guides, particularly guides who have been through the anti-life equation of tech themselves and somehow managed to not become deadened by it. So I knew the best to talk to would be Wendy Liu, Bay Area software engineer and start up founder, and now the author of Abolish Silicon Valley, a practical memoir about awakening within and then challenging tech.
With a book title like that, Wendy's stance on tech has obviously changed since the start of her career. Her public presence now focuses on revealing turn after turn of unsound ethics, structural inequality, the problems with data gathering, and even darker impulses in tech. To that end, Wendy and I talk about what's happening now, how theory and activism can help with what's coming, and lots more. This is a great episode, and I'm so happy to share it with you.
ON THIS EPISODE
- Why tech workers can't "change things from the inside"
- How tech used to solve the problems of centralized "analog" forms of power, and what happened
- The collective discontent with tech
- The way identity politics issues in tech
- The evil embedded in tech itself and how to spot it without becoming a luddite
- Theory language vs coding language and how code completes the inner state for you
- My goofy undergraduate hot-guys-on-geocities site
- Why the pandemic regulations aren't exactly new conditions
- Repression and oppression as a tactic for tech
- The pitfalls of tech socialism (and Wendy says, "Conner, don't worry about that just yet!")
- The elimination of emotion
- How (and how not) to resist the tech monster
- The neoliberal tech erosion of Ireland
• Want to learn more about Total Information Awareness? You should.
• Also on the you-should list, check out Doug Rushkoff if you haven't yet. He's one of the most brilliant thinkers I know.
• Although I've been doing a sort of mini-run of episodes on tech, the first one, really, was AEWCH 105 with apocalypse writer and tech critic Mark O'Connell. If you haven't yet listen, go for it. And here's the article on J.G. Ballard that Mark wrote, and which both Wendy and I loved.
• I've learned a lot from Owen Barfield (pictured below) about language, consciousness, and art.
• J.G. Ballard's Myths Of The Near Future isn't available, but you can get his collected stories (or selected stories) via this episode's booklist link.
• The economics, political, and cultural sphere stuff, is social threefolding, developed by Rudolf Steiner.
• Here's a little rundown on the death of honeybees from 5G radiation. It's on a honeybee-centered website, but you can find the data corroborated by other entomologists and tech workers.
• Here's the trailer for Sorry To Bother You.
Until next time,