Ever scratched your head wondering what drives people like Gates, Ellison, Jobs, Dell, Zuckerberg, Yang, Dorsey, or hundreds of others who gave “birth” to the autonomous world of technology and wonder where they “fit” in the social-political world we live in?
If so, you need to understand the origins of ‘Silicon Valley’ and the people who were instrumental in innovating technology during the 1980s and 1990s.
What most of the world does not understand about technology people is that they are libertarians, not conservatives, not liberals, not democrats or republicans (even though they side with both of them from time to time). People do not get that “Silicon Valley” is a different mindset than most. The average person who votes, who watches the nightly news, does not grasp what drives technology people, and I am not sure they can because it is a world where leaders emerge because of what they create, innovate, and share or “borrow” from each other, and not what you control. If any, control comes much later in the life cycle and is usually displayed as owning more possessions and “toys” or land and being more philanthropic. It is a world full of ADHD and ADD and brilliant people, often introverted but compensate for their ‘introvert-ism‘ by being on stage and in the public’s view through media.
The world of technology, the world of ‘Silicon Valley,’ created the term ‘Technolibertarianism” (sometimes referred to as cyberlibertarianism) is a ‘political-social philosophy’ with roots in the early days of the Internet and technology. “Silicon Valley” is a world where hackers, cypherpunks, geek culture types, and those who emerged from a world of humanities (because at the time, there was no academic world of programming, computer science other than engineering), and the people would gather in Silicon Valley (where else could logic majors find work?) in the early 1990s and be highly influenced by ‘American libertarianism‘ from their past academic life.
In the people’s minds in the world of “Silicon Valley,” their philosophy was formulated as they experienced their world of technology, focused on minimizing government regulation, censorship, or anything else in the way of a “free” World Wide Web. In this case, the word “free” refers to the meaning of libre (no restrictions), not gratis (no cost). Out of their experiences of innovating new technologies, the people focused on policies that would always be considerate of civil liberties.
- The policy should oppose government over-regulation when it concerns innovation and technology.
- The policy that provides rational, free-market incentives is the best choice, is highly investor-based, and requires little oversight.
Today, we see the second generation of ‘Silicon Valley’ people emerge, carrying some of the baggage of their forefathers and mothers and being shaped and molded by the societal phase change they grew up experiencing. The question remains: Will the greater good prevail?
2 responses to “Do you think you understand Techies?”
Former SV startup founder here.
Agree with everything Richard has said.
To answer the question, we can look at an actual example.
We can compare the innovation, results, and greater good served by coinbase, who has instituted a “leave the politics at home” policy to any number of other SV companies, where one side of the political spectrum is allowed to flourish and run rampant, and opposing views are canceled out for fear of being canceled
Posted before completing….
Depending on how/who defines the greater good, I think that this generation will struggle to mirror the techno libertarianism of the 90s, as the Internet and closed systems that ride on it are established, and have fallen to government regulations or worse, predefined outcomes.
Decentralization via crypto is the last hope imo to build and maintain innovative solutions free of political influence. Centralized systems are imperfect.