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Former insider turned critic Wendy Liu busts the myths of the tech industry, and offers a galvanising argument for why and how we must reclaim technology’s potential for the public good.
Innovation. Meritocracy. The possibility of overnight success. What’s not to love about Silicon Valley?
These days, it’s hard to be unambiguously optimistic about the growth-at-all-costs ethos of the tech industry. Public opinion is souring in the wake of revelations about Cambridge Analytica, Theranos, and the workplace conditions of Amazon workers or Uber drivers. It’s becoming clear that the tech industry’s promised “innovation” is neither sustainable nor always desirable.
Abolish Silicon Valley is both a heartfelt personal story about the wasteful inequality of Silicon Valley, and a rallying call to engage in the radical politics needed to upend the status quo. Going beyond the idiosyncrasies of the individual founders and companies that characterise the industry today, Wendy Liu delves into the structural factors of the economy that gave rise to Silicon Valley as we know it. Ultimately, she proposes a more radical way of developing technology, where innovation is conducted for the benefit of society at large, and not just to enrich a select few.
Wendy Liu is a tech commentator, software engineer and former startup founder who left the tech industry to pursue a masters degree in inequality from the London School of Economics. She has written for Logic Magazine, Tribune, and New Internationalist, and has been featured in articles for The Atlantic and CNBC on tech worker union organizing.
“Lucid, probing and urgent. Wendy Liu manages to be both optimistic about the emancipatory potential of tech and scathing about the industry that has harnessed it for bleak and self-serving ends.”
“An inspiring memoir manifesto…Technologists all over the world are realizing that no amount of code can substitute for political engagement. Liu’s memoir is a road map for that journey of realization.”
“Astute, accessible, and driven by the author’s wealth of personal insight, Abolish Silicon Valley is a riveting read and a compelling contribution to contemporary debates. I devoured it in a single sitting.”
“Politically-engaged and rigorously self-reflective, Liu calls not just for the eradication of tech culture as we know it, but for the radical reinvention of innovation, work, and automation in the name of the collective interest. This is an assured debut which deserves to find a wide audience.”
“How refreshing to read Abolish Silicon Valley, where the answer turns out not to be more or less tech, but tech held transparently in common, as a tool. Liu’s story is quite simply riveting, and clears the path toward understanding the root of the problem.”