It’s generally assumed that technology is a good thing. The word itself brings up images of unprecedented inventions, medical breakthroughs and a more streamlined life. But do those images truly reflect the impact technology has had on our lives? The answer is a more complicated one than some may think.
On Wednesday, tech workers, Stanford students and the larger Silicon Valley community organized at the Palantir Headquarters in Palo Alto to protest technology misuse and the formation of digital registries used to track immigrants, particularly Muslim Americans.
With the rapid growth of the tech industry, Stanford’s connection with Silicon Valley has gained recent attention in the media. Stanford alumni like Peter Thiel ’89 J.D. ’92 and Elon Musk regularly make headlines for their achievements in the industry, and tech leaders, including President John Hennessy himself, occupy prominent positions back on the Farm.
Set in the not-too-distant city of Palo Alto, Calif., the HBO comedy “Silicon Valley,” which premiered April 6, follows the lives of Richard Hendrix (Thomas Middleditch) and his cynical band of programmers as they traverse the tech-infested waters of Silicon Valley. Even in the mecca of apps, software and websites, a geek is neither safe nor understood. In creator Mike Judge’s eyes, Silicon Valley is a cutthroat world – if you can’t code or can’t think of the “next big thing,” you’re out.
Stanford’s faculty and Silicon Valley are inseparably intertwined. Some have criticized this sort of revolving door between Stanford faculty and technology industry leaders as being detrimental to the purity of academia at Stanford.