the fire these times

57/ The Psychology of Silicon Valley (with Katy Cook)


This is the first episode of the year and I wanted us to start this year by talking about silicon valley. Now, I know that this might sound weird, maybe out of context even, but I think we’ve reached a point where we need to come to terms with the fact that we’re all living in a world heavily influenced by what we usually call Big Tech. So Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, but we can also include other giants such as Twitter and, of course, subsidiaries of these giants, such as Instagram, YouTube, Whatsapp and so on.

If you’re listening from the US, you’re likely very aware by now of what happens when authoritarian actors take advantage of certain designs on websites and apps like Facebook and YouTube. The fascists who stormed the Capitol on January 6th were undoubtedly radicalized on social media, with the help of Trump, himself addicted to Twitter, and the people around him.

But this conversation focuses on another angle, and it goes beyond just social media. I spoke to Katy Cook about her book “the psychology of silicon valley: ethical threats and emotional unintelligence in the tech industry. This book offers a revealing look inside the mind of the world’s most influential industry and how the identity, culture, myths and motivations of Big Tech are harming society. Katy walks us through the psychological landscape of Silicon Valley, including its leadership, ethical, and cultural problems – as well as what to do about them.

Although US-focused at times, this is not a conversation about that country only. In fact, I bring up the UK and the Middle East as part of my own experience with the effects of social media and the tech giants.I will be having more of these conversations in the near future as I myself dig deeper into the philosophy and politics of Big Tech, and explore ways to approach the many-faceted challenges ahead.

After getting some feedback, I’ve decided to release the episodes on Saturdays (Patreons) and Sundays (general public) instead of Sunday/Monday.


If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer.

Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options.

If you can’t donate anything, you can still support this project by sharing with your friends and leaving a review wherever you get your podcasts!

The Fire These Times is available on Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Radio Public, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Castro and RSS.

Music by Tarabeat.

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