A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
"In Daub’s hands the founding concepts of Silicon Valley don’t make money; they fall apart." --The New York Times Book Review
From FSGO x Logic: a Stanford professor's spirited dismantling of Silicon Valley's intellectual origins
Adrian Daub’s What Tech Calls Thinking is a lively dismantling of the ideas that form the intellectual bedrock of Silicon Valley. Equally important to Silicon Valley’s world-altering innovation are the language and ideas it uses to explain and justify itself. And often, those fancy new ideas are simply old motifs playing dress-up in a hoodie. From the myth of dropping out to the war cry of “disruption,” Daub locates the Valley’s supposedly original, radical thinking in the ideas of Heidegger and Ayn Rand, the New Age Esalen Foundation in Big Sur, and American traditions from the tent revival to predestination. Written with verve and imagination, What Tech Calls Thinking is an intellectual refutation of Silicon Valley's ethos, pulling back the curtain on the self-aggrandizing myths the Valley tells about itself.
FSG Originals × Logic dissects the way technology functions in everyday lives. The titans of Silicon Valley, for all their utopian imaginings, never really had our best interests at heart: recent threats to democracy, truth, privacy, and safety, as a result of tech’s reckless pursuit of progress, have shown as much. We present an alternate story, one that delights in capturing technology in all its contradictions and innovation, across borders and socioeconomic divisions, from history through the future, beyond platitudes and PR hype, and past doom and gloom. Our collaboration features four brief but provocative forays into the tech industry’s many worlds, and aspires to incite fresh conversations about technology focused on nuanced and accessible explorations of the emerging tools that reorganize and redefine life today.
Daub (Four-Handed Monsters), a professor of comparative literature at Stanford University, skewers tech industry pretensions in this blistering takedown. The philosophy of Silicon Valley, according to Daub, amounts to a collection of self-serving, ad hoc aphorisms plundered from self-help manuals, New Age bastions like the Esalen Institute, and Ayn Rand. Because Steve Jobs and Bill Gates made dropping out of college de rigueur, Daub writes, younger tech entrepreneurs often hailing from wealthy families in which failure has no real financial consequences who follow in their footsteps have a limited understanding of the intellectual ideas they claim guide their thinking, such as historian Ren Girard's theory of mimetic desire and economist Joseph Schumpeter's concept of "creative destruction." Daub also claims that Silicon Valley's ubiquitous talk of "disruption" is more about "rearrang what already exists" than revolutionizing the status quo. (Uber, he writes, didn't fundamentally alter the experience of hailing a cab: "What it managed to get rid of were steady jobs, unions, and anyone other than Uber making money on the whole enterprise.") Though generalists may find some of the references obscure, Daub's mix of humor, righteous anger, and intellectual rigor appeals. This provocative takedown of Big Tech hits the mark.
Not quite yet. Need to reread.