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

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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