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Google, Singularity, Technology and the Ruling Party | TechCrunch


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Žižek’s a Marxist, and I’m a staunch capitalist, but even I have to admit that he may be on to something there. it’s possible that multiparty democracy suffers from an inherent and fundamental flaw: the eventual installation of an entrenched, parasitical Ruling Party.

So of course, as a techie who instinctively thinks in terms of hacking and fixing systems, of course I immediately find myself wondering: is there a technical fix? Can better technology save us from the Ruling Parties, or at least alleviate some of our governments’ more glaring flaws? Or, alternately, will technology further entrench and empower them?

These days it’s hard for Silicon Valley to look at Washington with anything other than dismay trending towards horror, along with a powerful sense of “there has to be a better way.” I expect that’s why people have seriously called for Google to buy Detroit. I suspect that’s what Larry Page had in mind, at least in part, when he mused aloud about the desirability of a mad science islanduntrammeled by antiquated laws and politics, where we could experiment with new and better systems:

We’re changing quickly, but some of our institutions, like some laws, aren’t changing with that. The laws [about technology] can’t be right if it’s 50 years old — that’s before the Internet. Maybe more of us need to go into other areas to help them improve and understand technology.

Google is, after all, the apotheosis of the Valley; a company that muses about offering eternal youth to its employees somewhere down the road, a company that oozes scientific method. Doesn’t that sound a whole lot better than the Ruling Party? Doesn’t it seem like the best thing we could do is import the Google Way to Washington, and turn our government into a genuinetechnocracy?

Sorry. No. Silicon Valley thinks of itself as built on merit, innovation, iteration, and rational thought, and to some extent it is, but its worldview can be even more blinkered and bubble-bound than that of the Ruling Party. Technology does not solve all of the world’s problems, and it’s dangerous hubris to think that it might. Rational thought is a flawed tool in a world full of irrational people. And most of all, power corrupts; anyone who replaces the Ruling Party will probably eventually become a member.

I for one welcome our Googley overlords...