My neighbors in Silicon Valley are outraged over two pieces of news that seem entirely contradictory to me.
On the one hand, they’re furious that Trump would pick technical novices for White House posts, like former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who got a “C” in college Physics. Perry will be replacing the current Secretary Ernest Moniz, who formerly led a Physics lab at MIT.
This outrage might seem logical, but then, today, I found my Twitter feed overflowing with anger over the fact that a number of tech leaders, including Tesla’s Elon Musk, have agreed to join Trump’s business council advisory board. Tech has been anti-Trump since the beginning and are incensed that their leaders would join his ranks.
This outrage is conspicuously contradictory. It’s illogical for folks to be angry that Trump picks non-experts, but then turn around and shame any respected expert he appoints.
Now, for me, I’m hesitantly supportive of tech leaders advising Trump. It’s important that tech leaders advise Trump on smart policy. Two policies, in particular, deserve attention:
One, tech companies, especially Google and Facebook, store vast amounts of personal data on billions of users. They’re also essential platforms for free speech. Trump and other governments around the world have made ominous threats to force tech companies to create government backdoors, which would likely allow foreign hackers to spy on American citizens and conduct corporate espionage. It’s important that Trump understand how undermining security is a danger to Americans.
Second, no one on team Trump seems to have a plan for the kind of mass unemployment that could come from automation. Elon Musk is an expert in self-driving technology, which will wipe out millions of jobs. It’s essential that Trump plan for this future.
Last, I’m mindful that protesting is an American value. If they feel Trump is a threat and can’t be reasoned with, then perhaps it is OK for them to try and shame folks who advise the incoming administration.
But, it seems that many in the tech industry are expressing blind rage, rather than thoughtful criticism. This anger is leading them to overlook their core values of logic and reason.