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ERSU ABLAK >Technology industry is being politicized

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By default, the technology industry has always supported freedom of speech and progressive policies, because in order to be innovative you need to be more open to the world. We are living in difficult times, the old status quo is being shaken and there is a big shift in the world. The world is being divided into two different types of people. The ones who want more freedom, liberty, progress, a new type of society and the ones that like to stick to old fashion societal models. I am very much an outsider to American politics, but I feel that Trump represents the people who want to keep things as they are or better, to go back a hundred years ago to when people were treated based on their color, beliefs and their parents’ place in society. 

The best-selling author of Homo Deus; A Brief History of Tomorrow, Yuval Noah Hariri underlines that the dichotomy will be very severe. He says that people will not be divided according to their genetics or family ties, but whether they can acquire the skills necessary for future centuries or not. He says there will be strong clashes in between the people who have no skills, and those who are skillful in the division of spoils of future technologies. 

I think that the clash between the technology industry in the U.S. and Trump is just the beginning of the clashes that Hariri speaks about. 

The technology industry is one of the most tolerant industries of all. Because if a person can write a decent code, his/her gender, skin color, family connections, etc. do not matter at all. If a person can design, her surname does not matter at all. All that matters is the work that a person can present to be successful in the technology industry.

However, the same cannot be said for the politics industry. The lawmakers and the leaders of political parties do not usually come from rich families with strong networks and famous surnames. They are more often than not, people who were born with silver spoons in their mouths.

Therefore, the self-made technologists and politicians usually disagree on many things. These disagreements are slowly turning into influence wars and public relations battles. 

That’s why The Guardian writes that “While the big banks and pharma giants have flexed their economic muscle in the country’s capital for decades, there’s one relative newcomer that has leapfrogged them all:

Silicon Valley. Over the last 10 years, America’s five largest tech firms have flooded Washington with lobbying money to the point where they now outspend Wall Street two to one. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon spent $49m on Washington lobbying last year, and there is a well-oiled revolving door of Silicon Valley executives to and from senior government positions.”

The latest incidence made the divide between the tech industry and legislators very visible. 

According to CNBC, Microsoft responded strongly to the Trump administration’s decision on Tuesday to move toward rescinding or replacing DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) within six months.

“There is nothing that we will be pushing on more strongly for congress to act on,” Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said in an interview with NPR. “We put a stake in the ground. We care about a tax reform bill,” Smith said, noting that the entire business community cares about one but that this needs to be settled first.

Smith added that it won’t be easy for the government to deport Microsoft employees who are DREAMers: “[The government’s] going to have to go through us to get that person,” Smith said.

This is not a very soft statement and it is probably not the last one we will hear from technology firms about legislators in the future. 

The technology industry will become more and more politicized, as the clash between people who are skilled and out to change the world and people who are dependent upon heritage alone and don’t want to change, has started.

September/07/2017

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