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dream_weaver

Silicon Valley's Secret Philosphers

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Silicon Valley's Secret Philosophers Should Share Their Work

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While it’s doubtful Silicon Valley’s mission to disrupt the world was inspired by Marx, the father of communism captures how many capitalist engineers seem to feel about philosophy: a pointless attempt to answer theoretical questions in the pursuit of fuzzy concepts like wisdom and the examined life. Worse, philosophy is notoriously bad at offering solutions to the problems it poses. And yet, tech giants like Google and Apple have hired in-house philosophers and several others have sought their counsel. What could the solutions-oriented capital of the world possibly want from philosophers?

The short answer is we don’t really know, nor does Silicon Valley seem to want us to know.

Has Silicon Valley discovered Ayn Rand's thoughts on the power of philosophy?

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The present state of the world is not the proof of philosophy's impotence, but the proof of philosophy's power. It is philosophy that has brought men to this state - it is only philosophy that can lead them out.

Is Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey leading the way with eastern philosophy?

There is general skepticism and critique of philosophy by the 'capitalist engineers and there is skepticism by the philosophers of the technological in innovations which does not suggest a mutual attraction here. The part of being used as virtue-signaling pawns for ethically problematic companies is ironic in a world that demonizes big, business, a point that is not likely to be lost on the larger tech outfits doing the hiring with non-disclosure agreement clauses in the contracts.

 

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I'm not a voracious consumer of tech op-eds, but that author sounds like a spoiled brat. Do you think he represents a significant opinion? I don't see the big deal about big companies hiring philosophers for AI programs.

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Most positions for philosophers are in the college and university settings. It was a bit strange to see the headline association it with AI and tech companies.

It may not be a big deal, considering what the profession has to offer, brushing aside the philosophy's power in the world at large. The latter would be the crux of any significance.

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28 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

It was a bit strange to see the headline association it with AI and tech companies.

These huge companies sometimes have their own schools. Joshua Cohen, for example, is named as faculty at Apple University.

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A point that failed to get zeroed in on here. That adds a nuance to the story overlooked on the initial preview.

If Apple University is an extension of Apple Inc., then Apple Inc. Is not donating monies to a cause over which they've no control, they're establishing and funding an entity over which they have control without necessarily being explicitly aware of how to exercise that control more broadly.

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Apple does appear to be obsessed with control. I found this article on the different corporate cultures of Apple and Google. The subject of the article, Kim Scott, wrote a book about what it's like at both companies. She designed a course for Apple University, and she managed some projects at Google too.

I disagree with some conclusions in the article, but the general approach is pretty good. It tries to understand the companies' philosophies by analyzing various particulars of the daily life on each campus, such as the lunch menus and management styles. 

Edited by MisterSwig

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