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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 17th June 2016 > TECH WAITS FOR NO MAN

TECH WAITS FOR NO MAN

WHY THE WORLD LOVES SILICON VALLEY… AND FEARS IT

SILICON VALLEY IS THE NEW ROME. AS IN THE TIME OF CAESAR, the world is grappling with an advanced city-state dominating much of the planet, injecting its technology and ethos everywhere it lands and funneling enormous wealth back home.

Peter Thiel—tech investor, avowed monopolist, proponent of skipping college—has many of us wringing our hands about Silicon Valley’s swelling wealth and influence. Thiel spent about $10 million to secretly fund an ex-wrestler’s lawsuit against a salacious news-gossip website, allegedly as revenge, and that revelation set off panic about the ability of Silicon Valley and its billionaires to impose their will.

Thiel’s is just one of many stories with a similar theme. Facebook got accused of muting conservative news on the site, stirring still more worries about media control and censorship. Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made Thiel look like a cheapskate when he paid $30 million to buy and tear down four homes around his residence, just so nobody can see into his windows. Look around the U.S and you find that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff wielded the power to reverse an Indiana law that might have discriminated against the LGBT community, by threatening to abandon the state. The Donald Trump phenomenon has been largely fueled by voters angry that their jobs are getting reamed by technology.

Similar angst about California’s peninsula of geeks and Ghirardelli has resulted in backlash around the globe. The European Commission is freaking out about Google and Netflix, China is pushing back against Apple, and India recently stopped a Facebook plan to offer free internet because the government felt India might lose control over its wireless infrastructure. “There are certain rules necessary to operate so India doesn’t become a digital colony,” Sharad Sharma of Bangalore think tank iSpirt told journalists.

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Tech Waits for No Man - Why the world loves Silicon Valley…and fears it.
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