tech industry woes part 3: the false modesty of tech is absurd

around the 23 minute mark in the episode, anil discusses the absurdity of the false modesty of the tech world. he keenly points out some major contradictions in positions.

it’s absurd to think that the same group of people who say they’re going to build driverless cars think it’s too hard to manage good behavior. anil thinks that this is just a cop out. they say it would take too much human capacity and decision-making to make the platforms safe for all. those platform owners/builders just don’t want to have to make judgment calls and tell some people they can’t be jerks on their platforms.

if i take it a step further, i’m gonna guess that they don’t want to go there because that interferes with their profits and bottom line. if they had to kick all the trolls off of twitter, twitter would be smaller, for sure. also, if they had stricter rules about journalism and banned “fake news,” they’d probably have less news. but, [as anil explained], false news is popular and when you’re in an attention economy, you want those clicks and that page time. the more people click and the longer they spend on your platform, the more valuable your platform is to advertisers.

relevant quote from the transcript

MR. DASH: The false modesty of the tech industry is the most ridiculous argument that they start with because at the same time they’re like, “We’re here to change the world. We’re going to put rockets on Mars and make self-driving cars, but we don’t want to presume too much.”

MR. DASH: And so that’s sort of the starting point. And then they get into, “It’s really hard, and it takes people.” As it turns out, yes. Yeah, it does. It takes human judgement. And you have to say where you sit, and you have to make a call, and you have to make some people angry because they didn’t get to be jerks on your platform.

MS. TIPPETT: I mean, and that’s even stopping short of saying, “We are going to encourage generative relationships,” right?

MR. DASH: Yes, yes.

MS. TIPPETT: Robust civics. Not just everybody being nice and banning bad voices, but something that’s robust where difference is being engaged.

MR. DASH: Or explicitly designing for good behavior.

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