Home / Technology / In its insatiable pursuit of power, Silicon Valley drives the climate crisis to Rebecca Solnit | opinion

In its insatiable pursuit of power, Silicon Valley drives the climate crisis to Rebecca Solnit | opinion

The Big Tech's climate crimes are Legion. This summer, the Amazon burned. Why? Partly because of the policy of the new anti-environment, anti-human rights president Jair Bolsonaro.

How did Bolsonaro rise to prominence and then presidency? YouTube and some of its algorithms that move people to more extreme content played a big role. As the New York Times reported in August, Bolsonaro was not a long time ago "a marginal figure in national politics ̵

1; but a star in the extreme right-wing community of YouTube in Brazil, where the platform is now more widespread than any other television channels." Members of the nation's new right-wing extremist power – from the grassroots organizer to the federal legislator – say its movement would not have increased so quickly without YouTube's referral engine.

YouTube's search and recommendation system seems to have systematically distracted users from legal and conspiracy channels in Brazil. Some of the YouTube algorithms have been linked to the rise of racism, white supremacism, and mass shootings. It seems that profit comes first – and extremist content keeps viewers spellbound and enthusiastic viewers bring in revenue.

Google, the owner of YouTube, also seems to be helping to get some users into more extreme content. Subsequently, all our data is collected and sold. Some of this data is used to appeal to you and me for shopping, but politics is now a kind of shopping in which targeting and manipulating voters about personal data is like manipulating potential customers, such as the role of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica experienced in Brexit and the climate catastrophe that was the election of Donald Trump. (It is worth noting that all that the Putin regime is responsible for in the US elections in 2016 is to exploit new security holes created by new technologies.)

This erosion of privacy, ahead of Edward Snowden warned us in 2013 when it was the US The National Security Agency that undermines it is being hurt much more by Facebook and Google, collecting data from everything we do and from everyone we know. Snowden warned us that privacy is a crucial part of democracy, a kind of fortress that each of us possesses – or owns – behind which we can freely think, associate and act without the government intervening. The many ways in which everything we do now are monitored and the data aggregated are used – and in many places – to limit the freedoms of ordinary people. And ordinary people have been fueling the efforts of the global climate movement to save the planet from the worst effects of the climate crisis. Jair Bolsonaro "src =" https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/2bf14c23ea0b880e33674f162146f2c3423ee58f/0_55_3500_2100/master/3500.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=11f3de085483597d6aa3c31aa59da400 "/>

& # 39; As the New York Times reported in August, it was not so long ago that Jair Bolsonaro was "a marginal figure in national politics – but a star in YouTube's right-wing extremist community in Brazil." Photo: Adriano Machado / Reuters

What the climate emergency demands of us and what capitalism does to us is at war with each other, and Big Tech is a ruthless new version of robber baron capitalism, with new tools and powers for the same old power consolidation agenda above. While the Silicon Valley remake of so many parts of our lives could have been elegantly eco-friendly and empowering for ordinary people, it was largely profit-driven.

At least since the activists of Tiananmen Square in 1965, citizens have used new technologies for justice and equality. In 1989 fax machines were used and in 1999 the closure of the World Trade Organization in Seattle was organized by e-mail, but the liberal ideals of those who Using a technology often conflicts with those who design and control it. For example, liberation movements use Facebook, but Facebook is also committed to the genocide and corruption of elections.

If you look at the current clashes in Hong Kong or the dire situation in China as a whole, then the new surveillance capabilities, including face recognition, have strengthened the hand – or rather the eyes – of a Big Brother government, making the resistance more dangerous and the Makes your privacy harder. China is now exporting its face recognition technology and threatening the rest of us to lose what the Chinese have already lost.

The ethos behind the great technology offerings is usually a libertarian notion of isolation and individualism sweetened with comfort. Transportation: The ability of big data to understand complex dynamics could have been used – and is beneficial for some smaller operators – to improve public transport. But what did the titans of Silicon Valley offer us? Driverless cars for the future and "carpooling" for cars in the present, undermining the livelihoods of the taxi industry and flooding cities around the world with engines powered by fossil fuels. Elon Musk's Tesla cars and battery systems are the most climate-friendly in Silicon Valley, but they are outliers, and Tesla's are still private cars.

The moment we needed people to come out of their cars, Lyft and Uber have developed a model to bring people back inside. Transit expert Bruce Schaller concluded last year that TNCs "are mainly competing with public transport, pedestrians and cyclists, and attracting customers from these non-automated modes of travel, comfort and convenience. About 60% of TNC users in large, dense cities would have used public transport, walked, cycled or refused to travel if TNCs were unavailable. "

  Uber Pickup Point

We needed people to get out of their cars. Lyft and Uber have developed a model to get people in again. "Photo: Mike Blake / Reuters

He also concluded, "TNCs have added 5.7 billion miles a year to the cities of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC." In the San Francisco Bay Area Many of the Lyft and Uber drivers live in poorer regions and drive long distances to chauffeur the rich in congested cities. The dystopia, which is Silicon Valley as it increasingly annexes the Bay Area, shows that the tech overlords have little interest in a better world, as opposed to a more profitable one for themselves.

Big Tech uses itself more and more power for server farms and networks that manage more and more of our activities. You might have watched a DVD about a decade ago, and all the juice was on your DVD player and TV monitor. Now we're streaming our conversation. A recent report concluded that since 2013, the share of digital technologies in global greenhouse gas emissions has risen by half from 2.5% to 3.7% of global emissions. The explosion of video applications (Skype, streaming, etc.) and the increasing consumption of short-life digital devices are the main reasons for this inflation. In addition, these technologies that hold us to our devices and their corporate-managed content keep us away from each other.

People are best when they live and act as citizens (a word I have no relation to) citizenship status). This means decentralized power, democracy as equality and participation, and information systems that are accountable, transparent and reliable. It depends on us being able to experience ourselves and each other as members of the public. I have long believed that this means, in part, that you are in direct contact with each other in public space, living together with strangers and a variety of people.

People are at their worst when they are consumers, and are entangled in the miserable pursuit of satisfaction by isolating individual consumption – especially when shopping and consuming it online (and learning from ourselves, like Instagram) turn in goods). Although many have used technology to promote democracy and participation, big tech does not want us to be citizens. It wants us to be consumers. To cope with the climate crisis, we need to be citizen-free, powerful, private and public, alive, energetic and secure.

If we do what the climate demands of us, we will decentralize and separate power generation The fossil fuel companies and oligarchies are building solar and wind power plants and other renewable technologies that use resources that belong to no one and everyone. The nice metaphor for this is that the decentralization of literal power – like the juice that drives our machines – can and should signify the decentralization of social and political power. However, big tech was about consolidating power and creating a new billionaire class that is in its own best interest and that of the deep future and the vast majority. It's more of a problem than a solution.

Rebecca Solnit is the freelance author and author of Men Explain Things to Me and The Mother of All Questions. She is an American Guardian columnist.

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