I EXPECT the big car companies were as defensive, back when reformers suggested seat belts and the like, as digital-disruptor types are when they receive any bit of criticism. In this case, the Silicon Valley types lash back that anyone who doesn’t buy their cyber-utopian vision is “anti-technology.”
Salon’s Andrew Leonard gets into this quite well in a short piece about the digital boys’ reception to Jill Lepore’s recent story. She argues that “disruption theory” is full of holes and bad assumptions, and was immediately tarred as a Luddite. Here’s Leonard:
It’s possible to be critical of the way Silicon Valley is agitating for regulatory reform that is designed to nurture Silicon Valley business models without being “anti-technology.” It’s possible to explore the question of how the current pace of technological innovation is affecting jobs and inequality without being anti-technology. It is possible to be critical of how, in the current moment, technology appears to be serving the interest of the owners of capital at the expense of workers without being anti-technology. It’s even possible to love one’s smartphone and the Internet while at the same time critiquing run-amok “change the world” hype.
The whole fight reminds me of something Paul Krugman has said: The enthusiasts of creative destruction always think it will be someone else getting destroyed. Someday, it will be their turn.