Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and other tech billionaires must have choked on their coffee after reading Douglas Rushkoff’s latest book. And so goes their carefully polished image of the saviors of the world.
Climate change, sea level rise, mass migration, epidemics… you name all the world’s problems and according to these men they will be solved by advancing technology.
However, all these claims are in the book Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires, out next week.
Especially escaping the crowd
Colonization of Mars by Musk, Reversing Aging by Peter Thiel or A Ray Kurzweil Anyone who wants to upload their brain to a supercomputer has nothing to do with making the world a better place. On the contrary, Rushkoff writes.
Bezos Goes to Space, Musk Goes to Mars and Zuckerberg Locks Himself in His Own Metaverse
These super rich want to escape the misery of the world they have created through their digital technology. ‘For them, the future of technology is one thing: escaping the crowd.’
How do they do it? Bezos is going to space, Musk is going to Mars, Thiel is moving to New Zealand, and Zuckerberg is locked in his own metaverse. According to Rushkoff, absolutely pointless.
In his magnum opus, he describes how digital technology from the 1990s was taken out of the hands of innocent freethinkers and turned into hard-hitting corporate capitalism. Rapid growth and mega profits have become the driving force behind this ‘revolution’ and not the progress of our society.
The Happy few Profits dominate and prepare to exit. The rest of the world is becoming poorer, sicker, and starving. Technology is the way to control and control the masses. Thanks to the applications of advanced behavioral science, users are manipulated.
Algorithms make sure we’re sufficiently distracted from what’s really happening on social media with cat pictures, baby photos, and funny videos. Or better yet, fully immerse yourself in another reality with VR goggles.
The Silicon Valley mentality
Rushkoff describes how the world slowly but surely fell under the spell of the Silicon Valley mentality. Rushkoff in his book called it ‘attitude’. For these men, success means making enough money to protect themselves from the damage they do the way they make money.
Think of the mining of rare metals that destroy our natural habitat, but are essential to all digital technology. Or slavery-like constructions where people have to work to make smartphones.
But going to sea in a floating villa, or going underground in a fortified bunker is not enough for this mentality. The best way to protect yourself from future mass riots is to rearrange the world to your own specifications.
Reshaping the world
And they’re very successful at it, Rushkoff admits. Privacy is no more. Many jobs are automated, and many people work on short-term contracts in the gig economy, especially for companies that have destroyed their permanent jobs.
If you don’t like it, they start over. Like turning off a crashing computer
Local commerce and media are disappearing due to the ever-growing digital offering. Small companies are being blocked by the lobby of big companies who want to protect their monopoly.
The next step in this restructuring: changing governments. Tech guys experiment with new forms of communities and norms. If you don’t like it, they start over. Like turning off a crashing computer.
People? Pfff, no need
The longer we ignore the social, economic and environmental impacts of digital technology, the more complex they will become, Rushkoff warns. However, sustainability and circularity are incompatible with this mindset because it generates very little growth and money.
However, according to the tech billionaires, not them, but humans are actually the root of the problem. The fewer people you need, the better for your company and your stakeholders. At MadeForYou Amazon robots are now creating your new fully customized t-shirt.
The illusion that technology does all the work, writes Rushkoff. “But robots don’t do all the work, the cotton pickers, the people who go to the mines to get materials for the robots, and the people who dispose of obsolete robots in the garbage heaps.”
The Silicon Valley mentality assumes that everything can be coded, everything can be digitized. After converting everything into data, any problem can be solved with digital technology.
Break everything and start with solutions that pay a lot, preferably more than their predecessors. ‘Move fast and break things’Be a hero, don’t worry about the real world and above all don’t look back.
‘We’re coming up with another super solution, another way to protect our beaches against water, against our lung pollution, against our soil erosion, and save our technological model of society from its destruction.
Whether it’s a new chemical, a microprocessor, a blockchain, a gene, a nanobot, or a combination of these things, we need to take it to the next new world.”
Make different choices
Even if these solutions of the technological elite work, they deny us what makes us human, needing meaning, needing to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. Yes, we are allowed to exhibit some unpredictable and irrational behavior.
Stop supporting companies from tech giants
Rushkoff has no plan to save the world, but he points out how we can better protect ourselves from the consequences of the machinations of these tech billionaires and how to create alternatives.
The world hasn’t ended yet, we have a choice. “We can stop supporting tech companies and the lifestyles they push. We can do less, consume less and travel less. We can buy locally, help each other more and support cooperatives.
We can use monopoly law to break up anti-competitive behemoths, environmental regulations to reduce waste, and unions to improve the rights of gig workers.
We can change tax policy: People who make passive capital gains on their assets should pay higher rates than people who have to actively work for their income.
Rushkoff realized that this was against the laws of economics. “But since when are we humans here to serve the economy? That belief is an artificial phenomenon of the mind.’
Pay attention to the ‘but’ on their grand plans, tech fixes and major resets
Continued rapid growth will have catastrophic consequences for our climate and social order. “There is no ‘solution’ to our problems other than maintaining a gentle, open and responsible approach to each other.”
The safety net is already built
Finally, he calls for listening more carefully to the promises made by tech giants and “world leaders under their spell.” Pay attention to the ‘but’ on their grand plans, tech fixes and major resets. There is always an element of profit, a temporary compromise or external challenge that must be resolved later.
The tech billionaire has already built a safety net for these uncertainties, of course. However, he promises to come back later. That is the great lie of the us-to-itself attitude. There was no escaping it, not even after. If we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it.’
Who is Douglas Rushkoff?
American Douglas Rushkoff One of the ten most influential intellectuals in the world, according to MIT. Author of twenty books, documentary filmmaker, and corporate consultant, he is also a professor of media theory and digital economics at CUNY/Queens.
Rushkoff also has a connection to our country: he received his doctorate from the University of Utrecht in 2012 with his thesis.
His new book can be called an indictment, an exaggeration, or a perfect analysis, an eye-opener, or whatever. Whatever you think, Rushkoff is definitely one of the world’s tech billionaires.
That’s how this new book began: with an invitation to a select rich club. Some millionaires referred to a future disaster and asked him for advice on how to prepare for what they called “the event.”
“Introvert. Communicator. Tv fanatic. Typical coffee advocate. Proud music maven. Infuriatingly humble student.”