Have you seen HBO’s Silicon Valley? If not, you may want to…
HBO’s television series, Silicon Valley, has been described by many as a “behind the scenes” into the rollercoaster of insanity that our tech innovators and visionaries call their reality. In an interview with Rolling Stone, CEO of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel, described it as “basically a documentary.” This show is packed with overly-exaggerated scenarios of the high’s and low’s that a company in Silicon Valley, California battle in their journey for tech innovation. This Prime Video series is centered around one primary topic; user data control. Richard Hendricks’ and his company, Pied Piper, fight against the giants of Silicon Valley to bring their new data compression algorithm to market and create the first-ever decentralized internet, one in which it’s the user that has control over their data. Throughout their journey, it becomes very apparent that every situation and message behind this plot is in direct correlation to the real life society that we live in every day. The technology Hendricks creates is merely a representation of the Blockchain Technology that we have access to in our lives. Lack of acknowledgement to the information this show is telling us would be nothing but foolish, and it’s time we take a hint from all the signs of plea for us to come together and do something to alter the digital world we live in.
In season 6, episode 1, Richard Hendricks puts this concept into perspective while presenting his company in front of the U.S. Congress. When asked why he is there, Hendricks, Gaven Belson, and Chairman Hubbard, shared the following conversation:
Hendricks: “Facebook owns 80% of mobile social traffic, Google owns 92% of search, and Amazon web services is bigger than their next four competitors combined.”
Belsen: “And they will be even more robust once the Hooli merger is complete.”
Hendricks: “Ah, see, look. There, even Hooli can’t survive these monopolies. No one can. They track our every move, they monitor every moment in our lives, and they exploit our data for profit. And you can ask them all the questions you want but they’re not going to change, they don’t have to. These companies are kings! And they rule over kingdoms far larger than any nation in the human history. They won. We lost.”
Hubbard: “So why are you here?”
Hendricks: “Because look at where we are, yeah? We are in the seat of the US government. A government that was founded by people who were at one point ruled by kings they couldn’t overthrow. So what did they do, right? They started over. They came here, to the new world, world 2.0 version 1776. And the way we win is by creating a new, democratic, decentralized internet. One where the behavior of companies like this will be impossible, forever. One where it is the users, not the kings, who have sovereign control over their data. This I promise you, I will help you end this journey. By building an internet that is of the people, by the people, and for the people, so help me god.”
We all can see this situation going on in our daily lives, because we have all fallen into relying on our devices for nearly everything we do… And it’s incredible. We’ve been handed information and opportunities that, 20 years ago, were unfathomable to even comprehend. Individuals create massively successful businesses and forms of generating revenue simply from devices that we hold in our hands… The infamous knowledge and information that all of us have ability to access that can transform our lives is something we’ve come to take for granted. And the saddening and unfortunate part about this, is that all of this comes at the cost of giving away our data for someone else to profit from.
And now, more than ever, it’s becoming clear just how detrimental the loss of our data has become to our mental health and well-being. The vastly-complex algorithms constantly feed us new content and ads based upon what we’ve seen, clicked, or come in proximity to. Our every move is feedback to these tech companies for whether or not we may be a potential buyer for some type of offer. This isn’t to say some of this is not of beneficial use, but is this really how we want to live? When does living day by day like this go to the point where we fall victim in, what Jaron Lanier coins, “behavior modifcation”, and every act we take is based upon someone else’s action or opinion…
So what do we do???
Well, we have an opportunity to change this. The technology that is resembled by Hendrick’s decentralized data compression algorithm is available in our real world, and companies have recognized and began utilizing the power of it. Blockchain Technology has this ability to alter the way our data is controlled, and removes the need of a “middleman”. In doing this, the user gains the power that their data has. WE REGAIN CONTROL.
Jennifer Zhu Scott, an entrepreneur and investor specialized in Blockchain and Artificial Technology, wrote in her blog on CoinDesk, “We live in a world of extreme concentrated ownership of the most valuable asset of our time. We all have a job constantly contributing to these companies in every second of our digital life, but few of us are paid. To regain our digital freedom, it takes every one of us to realize and demand the economic value of our data and stop giving our data away for free.”
We need to value our data… to learn the importance of regaining control of our data. More importantly, we have to acknowledge how POWERFUL our data really is… It’s been labeled that “Data is the New Oil,” so if it’s our data that’s providing wealth compared to oil, shouldn’t we be granted some of the benefits?
Consensus: No matter the amount, your data is valuable. The sooner we understand that, the sooner we get our fair share.