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Tech's accountability tantrum is pathetic

Silicon Valley's amateur kleptocrats have a deep allergy to anything that might derail their adolescent dreams of building the future - and topping the list of potential roadblocks is the dreaded bogeyman of accountability.

They'll gush endlessly about transparency and connecting the world. They'll appoint Chief Ethics Officers and verbose advisory boards. But make no mistake: when push comes to shove, they’ll shove anything and everything under the rug, cover it up with a “move fast and break things” philosophy, and leave the rest of us to clean up their shit.

Just look at all the debacles and ethical trainwrecks from the past decade. Uber has spent a decade pulverizing laws and livelihoods while racking up a rap sheet longer than your average cartel boss. Who cares about a few (dozen) felonies between friends when you're "reshaping the future of transportation?"

Amazon is squeezing employees until their bones collapse while twisting itself into tax-dodging knots and approaching union-busting with a level of enthusiasm their own products haven't seen in years (I'm looking at you, GoodReads.) Google is voraciously strip-mining every iota of personal data while fighting privacy regulations at every turn. 50-year-old boy wonder Elon Musk seems to think securities laws and basic accountability are for the unenlightened plebes of the world. A litany of tech assholes have lined up to endorse a convicted felon and alleged rapist to be the next President of the United States in pursuit of less legal and regulatory oversight.

Marc Andreessen, the tech kingmaker, encapsulated this anti-accountability ethos in a grandiose manifesto-cum-undergrad-essay titled "It's Time To Build." Amidst the fuzzy appeals to American exceptionalism and half-baked diagnoses of societal sclerosis, Andreessen's core argument boils down to this: we must pursue technological progress at all costs, unfettered by pesky speed bumps like ethics reviews or the barest consideration of social consequences. In Andreessen's techno-libertarian fantasia, self-anointed innovators should be free to unleash their creations on the world without all that killjoy hand-wringing over sustainability goals or collateral damage.

This isn't a case of a few bad apples. It's a deep fucking rot metastasized through an entire orchard, fertilized by a pervasive belief among the tech elite that they're above the rules that govern the rest of us, that the sheer pixie dust swirling around their "innovations" means they can treat legislators like pests, competitors like roadkill, and users like livestock - just interchangeable resource nodes to be prodded, milked and eventually slaughtered.

The collective delusion is that a small cadre of messianic tech moguls can solve the world's ills through sheer Vulcan chess mastery - unencumbered by those nitpicky democratic institutions and ethical safeguards the rest of us rely on. A hyper-libertarian fantasy of a benevolent billionaire dictatorship.

The Randian ubermensch bleat loudly about their deep commitment to "making the world a better place." But look at how they react the nanosecond anyone suggests some guardrails on their quest for global domination. The tantrums that erupt whenever some regulator gently proposes modest protections for privacy, competition, or worker rights. The smear campaigns against journalists, critics, and whistleblowers who dare puncture their immaculately crafted mythos. The legions of lobbyists and deceptive front groups swarming Capitol Hill to derail any legislation that might threaten their economic fracking. For the Andreessens of the world, the obfuscation of their core activities is a feature, not a bug - a way to keep the VC gravy train chugging along without all those meddlesome moral brakes.

Reality check: all the bluster and persecution fantasies of the Andreessen Horowitz Industrial Complex can't conceal the widening gap between their change-the-world branding and their grubby, destructive actions. People are waking up to the fact that the Valley's disdain for accountability isn't a minor philosophical difference - it's a fundamental design flaw wreaking havoc on society.

Piously proclaiming that you're making the world better while actively resisting any outside checks on your behavior doesn't make you a visionary. It makes you a garden-variety megalomaniac with a god complex. After all, if you're really as universe-denyingly brilliant as you claim, what do you have to fear?

Accountability isn't a woke shackle on your innovative brilliance. It's a critical and stabilizing force that roots out the sociopaths, channels resources to public goods, and ensures that society's interests are served with more than a PR exercise. It's the immune system that keeps market economies from metastasizing into neo-feudal hellscapes.

I know introspection and humility aren't exactly core to the disruptor ethos. But if the high priests of Venture Capital don't start making peace with democratic oversight soon, they're on a collision course with the public interest and with their own long-term viability. Tax evasions, monopolistic bullying, worker exploitation, sexual harassment, environmental plundering, cultural sabotage, and contempt for oversight won't stay buried forever by a slick Substack manifesto.

History is littered with the smoldering wrecks of autocrats who thought they could dominate without constraint.

Those who resist reasonable accountability tend to reap a grim harvest.

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