Tech Company Execs Question Value of Product, Consider Unintended Consequences

SILICON VALLEY — There has been much recent debate about the goings on of Silicon Valley, and most recently Facebook’s ousted co-founder and Napster co-founder, Sean Parker, has made the comment that the social media platform is merely a “social-validation feedback loop” designed to exploit a “vulnerability in human psychology.”

Parker made the comments, speaking openly in interviews with a website called Axios according to Business Insider, about the unintended consequences of the platforms he and other hackers in the Silicon Valley culture have created and the advertising models the rely upon to survive. But as large companies they have tremendous influence, not to mention their products are actually shown to be compulsive to near addictive in nature.

Parker chairs the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and he was at the Philadelphia event to talk about cancer therapy advances, according to news reports. When asked about the early days of Facebook, Parker said he tried convincing people and businesses who valued traditional face-to-face interactions that they would eventually create online personas too. Parker said he didn’t realize the “unintended consequences” of what he was saying and that social media has likely impacted productivity in “weird ways”. He added that “God only knows what it is doing to our children’s brains.”

Parker said the goal of Facebook was to consume more of users’ time, so they encouraged the compulsive behavior models through things like the ‘like’ button, which Parker said was a “dopamine hit” that encouraged more online participation, and ultimately less participation in real tangible society.

This conversation has also been slowly surfacing about the impact of video games, in which research has shown a major amount of unemployed adult men who stay at home to play video games, often even still living with their parents above the age of 30. Indeed, even those who have worked at Google have said they struggle to understand the ultimate added value to society as a whole. Polls and surveys of tech workers who are becoming disillusioned in the industry, according to reports, confirm that the addictive nature of digital products have come to haunt their thoughts about the impact these creations have had on society and culture as a whole worldwide.

Parker said the group in Silicon Valley still had some idea of what they were doing but they were young and they did it anyway. Many of the entrepreneurs and professionals who have spoke on the subject recount that maturity has offered them new ways of looking at their contributions to society. According to other reports, Facebook has signed on with the Poynter Institute and ABC News for a fact checking mission to prevent things like the widely criticized Russian election hacking scandal from happening. Critics argue that the company is engaged in censorship of conservative groups as part of its general agenda in this new fact checking mission. Facebook also wants to invest in giving more users globally access to the Internet, but that might mean they get a monopoly as an ISP in another country.

There continues to be a roiling debate among consumers, businesses, researchers, academics and political leaders about the impact specific technologies and their related industries, namely those in Silicon Valley, are having on everybody and everything. It should be noted that the four largest tech companies (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) have a combined net worth equal to the economy of Russia.

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