Anja's overflow

One-sided interpretations of Silicon Valley

Developing a critical understanding of our times is perhaps the most important facet of competence in a democratically legitimized society. Public broadcasting, with its educational mandate, should (among other things) help to perpetuate such a critical understanding:

  • To enlighten what is currently happening in the world.
  • Critically reflect on these developments and help to classify them.
  • Create an awareness of necessary interventions.

This effort shines through the documentary about “Utopia – crazy visions in Silicon Valley” – and leaves one somewhat irritated.

Here is the self-location:

In 2016, the documentary “Brave New World” by Angela Andersen and Claus Kleber showed millions of viewers how the tsunami of innovations is affecting far more than the world of the Internet. In less than twenty years, five billion people have been equipped with portable supercomputers, networked with all of humanity’s knowledge and nonsense. Eerie. And it was uncanny how almost silently this went on – until the double blow of Brexit and Trump in 2016 revealed incalculable consequences.
“Utopia” is a timely, critical look at these developments.

Uh-huh. Brexit and Trump as a central result of networked supercomputers and the possibilities of the Internet. Really? That’s all too undercomplex. And rather corresponds to the view from a tin can of an old media understanding that hardly wants to do justice to the complexity of a digitally networked world in the information age. And so, when I watched the documentary, various questions popped into my head:

  • What distinguishes media Internet companies from populist publishers vying for revenue streams in the attention economy?
  • How else is innovation to emerge, if not in previously unregulated gray areas?
  • Are private companies like SpaceX really in competition with nation states or did NASA not rather want to gain exactly their advantages via a public-private partnership?!
  • Have we lost any claim here to actively help shape tomorrow’s world, even with smart technology?

There are strangely one-sided categorizations in this documentary that stoke more fear of the future than encourage openness in people to also explore the opportunities of a digitally connected world for a sustainable world.

Certainly, we should look critically at libertarian developments and support a social reflection of them. But this (typical German?) hatred of the technocratic will of (yes) U.S. men, who are nevertheless bound up in a complex relationship of dependence on investors, political regulations and a market economy demand, does not do justice to the matter.

It would not detract from the drama of the crisis-ridden times to also explore the possibly positive potentials and mechanisms of action of these and other socio-technological inventions in order to use them to shape a sustainable world. But that presupposes a constructive will to shape things – and not just negative criticism in the media on a pseudo-intellectual level.

See for yourself!

Video available until 07/19/2027

Article published on piqd on July 21, 2022 as a reference to the ZDF documentary UTOPIA.

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