Cathy "Weapons of Math Destruction" O'Neil wants us to have empathy for Big Tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, who are "monumentally screwed, because they have no idea how to tame the monsters they have created."
These guys aren't geniuses -- they just got lucky (twice: first by designing a product that people wanted to use, and second by doing so at the moment in which antitrust enforcement ceased, allowing them to grow through monopoly tactics).
They're not going to be able to fix the disinformation, bad conduct, and harassment on their platforms. Algorithms won't and can't fix that problem. Human moderators cost a fortune and don't work very well. Any kind of transparency in your moderation policies just invites rules-lawyering and line-stepping and mires you in endless discussions about how to be fair to (in Facebook's case) 2.3 billion people, who will have 2,300 one-in-a-million circumstances every single day.
So, back to my sympathy. These boys are all super rich, so it’s limited. But I’m imagining being their mom, feeling for them. They all started out wanting to make the world a better place using cool technology, and here they are, dealing with all of this democracy and public responsibility stuff, which they never signed up for and honestly don’t have the chops to handle.
As their fictional mom, I’d like to offer some advice. Retire, step aside. Maybe find a new hobby. Ask someone smarter and more educated, thoughtful, and civic-minded to decide on the future of your companies.
Mark Zuckerberg Is Totally Out of His Depth [Cathy O'Neil/Bloomberg]
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(Image: Anthony Quintano, JD Lasica, CC BY, modified)
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