Opinion: Occupy Silicon Valley Is Coming Faster Than Most People Think

Jamarlin Martin
Written by Jamarlin Martin

Growing populism could call for wealth distribution of the tech sector, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Michael Hartnett said in a recent report.

Hartnett said he believes there could be an Occupy Silicon Valley movement similar to Occupy Wall Street in 2011.

Looking beyond the obvious benefits from Silicon Valley such as lower prices and improved technology for consumers and businesses, I think this movement will develop and accelerate faster than most people think.

FANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google) could be considered a proxy for big tech and they keep going up in value, creating billions of dollars in wealth while populist sentiment is rapidly increasing at the same time.

More and more Americans are realizing that what is good for tech is not necessarily good for America in the long term.

Lower prices (Chinese-made iPhones) efficiency (the ongoing threat to jobs by automation) and funding unprofitable companies have social costs that Silicon Valley doesn’t want you to know about — or simply doesn’t care about.

Americans are realizing that Amazon is creating jobs, but many of those jobs are in shipment centers where humans organize and pack boxes. These are the jobs that are likely to be targeted for replacement by venture capital-backed robots.

Robots are expected to help unprofitable companies like Uber assert a dominant position once the market has been crushed with lower prices.

Where does all this lead, and for whose benefit? The foundation of the Occupy Silicon Valley movement will rest on that question.

There are four areas of focus that I see in the Occupy Silicon Valley movement:

1. Distribution of wealth

2. Robots versus wage increases and job creation

3. Diversity and inequality

4. Ethics

Only 1 percent of venture capital goes to black Americans, and this relates to three of the above.

Lack of ethics in Silicon Valley is one area that I see rising in prominence. You see a definite pattern with recent headlines about Uber, Facebook, Zenefits, Palantir, and Theranos.

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About Jamarlin Martin
Jamarlin Martin is the founder and CEO of Nubai Ventures. A pioneer and thought leader in digital media, he grew Moguldom Media Group into a multiple-brand digital media and entertainment platform, selling three brands to Urban One NASDAQ: UONEK. Ozy described Jamarlin as an "Emperor of Digital Media." He won an EY Entrepreneur of The Year Award in 2015.

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  • Bryan See

    I think this anti-technology social movement is energized by Donald Trump when he got elected, with the help of Russia. Bubbling beneath the surface of the anti-elite wave is the reality that it is not migrants or trade that are primarily to blame for the feeling of lostness and the degradation of incomes. Instead, it is technology—fast-coming advances in robotics, manufacturing and machine-learning—that is eroding and wholly stripping away well-paying jobs. A lot of experts think worse is coming.

    It is only a matter of time before it dawns on millions of Americans—particularly the chunk that has already been whipped into a frenzy by Brexit and Trump’s appeal to their reduced circumstances, as well as the ripple effect brought on by the absurd Fobos-Grunt episode of 2012—that the iPhones they love so much are a substantial source of their current unhappiness. And they are likely to turn their anger at high-tech companies for inventing and commercializing too much, too fast, and for, in Trump’s words, complicating the world very greatly. The most visible target will be Silicon Valley and places like it.

    There is no telling how precisely these modern-day Luddites (or neo-Luddites) will express their anger. But look for the backlash to materialize in the form of demonization, protests at tech offices with even violence, and demands of politicians that something be done: should Silicon Valley be forced to slow down robotization? Should robots made abroad be stopped at the border of the injured nation? Will the backlash go truly global? Will Russian President Vladimir Putin and Wikipedia editors such as BatteryIncluded, Boing! said Zebedee, AGK and Dennis Brown be happy to see this?

    These outbreaks of protest will flow from one primary rule—the Injustice Rule, with masses of people feeling seriously aggrieved at headlong technologization that recklessly takes no heed of all its potential impacts. The backlash against science and tech will be so great that it will make technology stocks a risky investment, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Chief Investment Analyst Michael Hartnett warned. Hartnett believes that an Occupy Silicon Valley protest movement is imminent.

    Populist anger against tech is beginning to grow and manifest itself in protests and even violence. Not surprisingly San Francisco; where Google buses have been attacked and blocked by protestors, is ground zero for the anti-tech movement but there have been outbreaks worldwide.

    There were riots against Uber in France in 2015 and anti-Trump protestors chained themselves to that company’s doors in January. There’s also a well-organized and well-financed movement to boycott Tesla Motors because of Elon Musk’s association with Donald Trump. Musk was so afraid of that movement he resigned from two presidential advisory boards; in fact, he did it in retaliation of Trump pulling the US out of the Paris Accords.

    Expect to see more anti-tech legislation proposed soon. Likely efforts will include measures to remove computers from schools and houses, tax technology companies and ban or restrict the use of digital technology, robots and artificial intelligence.

    Do not be at all surprised if populist politicians such as the anti-everything Donald J. Trump, and others including BatteryIncluded, Boing! said Zebedee and Vladimir Putin jump on the anti-tech bandwagon. It has the potential to become a political protest as popular and as widespread as the Temperance movement that led to Prohibition in the 20th Century, as well as to blame same problems on technology; Starkiller88 will be used as one of the example of tech causing problems to society, namely, complicating lives and the world very greatly as Trump noted last December.

    So, this could mark a development that could prevent humankind reaching milestones, like landing an astronaut on Mars. Elon Musk warned about this in his GQ interview in December 2015.

    He commented, “I don’t think we can discount the possibility of a third World War. You know, in 1912 they were proclaiming a new age of peace and prosperity, saying that it was a golden age, war was over. And then you had World War I followed by World War II followed by the Cold War. So I think we need to acknowledge that there’s certainly a possibility of a third World War, and if that does occur it could be far worse than anything that’s happened before. Let’s say nuclear weapons are used. I mean, there could be a very powerful social movement that’s anti-technology.”

    He also noted a number of times where eras of great technological advances were followed by stretches of decline. In particular, he referenced the periods following the building of Egypt’s Great Pyramids and the flourishing of the Roman Empire.

    Musk believes the colonization of Mars is a moral duty to ensure biological survival the same way a USB drive is meant to preserve data in case a computer crashes. A Martian colony could guarantee humanity survives in the event of a debacle that destroys life on Earth. “You back up your hard drive. Maybe we should back up life, too?” he asked.

    That is if he does not get killed by assassins on orders from either Putin or Trump, or both. In 2014, asked in an interview whether he would visit Mars in his lifetime, Musk said “I hope so, if I don’t get assassinated by like, some Russian assassin, which is not out of the question. They’ve done that before!”

    Even if he does not get killed, his plans will be thrown off when global catastrophes happen. These were foreseen by blind Bulgarian oracle Baba Vanga. For example, she said in 1979 about Russia and Putin, asserting that “the glory of Vladimir, the glory of Russia are the only things that will remain,” and that the country will not only survive, but it comes to dominate the world.

    “Everything will melt away like ice yet the glories of Vladimir, the glory of Russia are the only things that will remain. Russia will not only survive, it will dominate the world.”

    And, during her meeting with writer Valentin Sidorov, Vanga said: “All will thaw, as if ice, only one remain untouched – Vladimir’s glory, glory of Russia. Too much it is brought in a victim. Nobody can stop Russia. All will be removed by her from the way and not only will be kept, but also becomes the lord of the world.”