Silicon Valley’s inequality machine: a conversation with Anand Giridharadas

Editor’s Note: Technology, startups, entrepreneurship, unicorns, S-1s. Silicon Valley has created an economic engine unlike any other in the world over the past few decades. That success has come with incredible influence over our society, politics, and economy, an influence that is increasingly under the microscope. Our industry has gained outsized power, and now it needs to meet that power with outsized responsibility.[/i]
In a new series for TechCrunch Extra Crunch, Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard and MIT, will interrogate issues of ethics and how they apply to technology and startups today. As Epstein writes:
In 2018 I joined MIT in addition to my role at Harvard, and the experience of becoming a chaplain at what is officially a technology institute inspired me to reorient much of my work toward helping people think about and create ethical lives in a technological world.
I’ve essentially moved from studying religion to studying tech, and it’s a surprisingly natural transition. After all, the late great tech critic and ethicist Neil Postman first wrote about the idea of a religion of technology back in 1992, expressing concern about the role of the fax machine in modern society.
And regardless of what you believe, the ‘religion of tech,’ if such a thing exists, would likely have more followers than any other religion in the world. The question I’m most interested in asking, then, is: how do our values shape the technology we create? Well, that and its inverse: how is our technology shaping our values?
Today, Epstein interviews Anand Giridharadas, who has become one of the world’s most prominent critics of inequality and inequity in contemporary capitalism. His book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World has triggered a conversation around the implications of our economic structure and what should be done about it.
In Cambridge today, Epstein and his office will be awarding the Rushdie Award to Giridharadas for his humanist achievements, and Giridharadas will keynote the “Social Enterprise Conference” at Harvard.
This interview is approximately 5,300 words / 22 minutes read time. The first third has been ungated given the importance of this subject. To read the whole interview, be sure to join the Extra Crunch membership. ~ Danny Crichton

Introduction and the meaning of progress

Silicon Valley’s inequality machine: a conversation with Anand Giridharadas
Photo by Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images
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