Silicon Valley has a dark side, and it doesn’t want you to know about it.
So far, it’s done a pretty decent job of keeping it from you. In fact, if you were to believe its side of the story, you’d truly think that Silicon Valley was the pinnacle of human civilization. But the sun doesn’t shine evenly into this valley, and a very different picture begins to emerge once you venture out into the shadows.
In A People’s History of Silicon Valley: How the Tech Industry Exploits Workers, Erodes Privacy and Undermines Democracy, tech writer and cultural critic Keith A. Spencer guides readers on a journey through the shadows. He lays out an argument for why Silicon Valley is, at its core, a highly exploitative and problematic industry that is hell-bent on spreading not only its technology, but its incredibly dangerous ideology as well.
Robert Raymond: Before we get into some of the ideas you write about in the book, I think it would be helpful for us to provide some personal context. Tell us about your connection to Silicon Valley.
Keith A. Spencer: My family goes back to the San Francisco Bay Area many generations and has been, for the most part, unincluded in the economic boom that Silicon Valley is considered to have created. When I was in my 20s my grandfather — who had been born in Mountain View and lived in what is now Silicon Valley for his whole life — got evicted from where he lived when he was 90 years old. Watching that happen and hearing my family tell stories about the Bay Area and why so many of them left over the years really colored my perspective on Silicon Valley.
So that was the beginning of watching all this stuff happening in Silicon Valley and thinking, “Wow it’s interesting that everyone thinks what’s going on here is so wonderful.” Some people in tech literally say that there’s a modern renaissance happening in Silicon Valley. But my experience and my family’s experience [is] very different. So, I think that was a big part of what led…