Are the idealists ‘good guys’ who are challenging the old order or are they really tax-minimising corporations that threaten our future?
Antonio García Martínez has seen the future and it is terrifying. Which is why he is going to set up home (“this is the drone room right here”) on a small island north of Seattle and live out the ravages of post-America, self-sufficiently, with a composting toilet and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. He is nervy and fast-talking, like a survivor who has seen unimaginably horrific things. And he has – he was once a product manager at Facebook. There is going to be a “violent revolt”, he says. The tech overlords, he mentions in passing, are all building their own survivalist camps. The rest of us, the “normals”, are sleepwalking towards the apocalypse, posting Instagram pictures from our most recent Airbnb stay from the back of a self-driving Uber. The first of two episodes of Secrets of Silicon Valley (BBC2, Sunday) was a sobering look at how tech is going to change society quickly and dramatically.
The Industrial Revolution was nothing compared to what is coming, says one tech genius, Jeremy Howard, whose artificial intelligence (AI) software will probably replace doctors any day. He arrives on screen on a one-wheeled skateboard – why have four wheels if you can have one? It seems a neat symbol of how redundant most of us will become.