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Video and podcast: Has Silicon Valley Lost Its Humanity?

The Know It Alls cover

Author Noam Cohen, technology critic Sara M. Watson, and technology journalist Christina Couch discuss the rise of Silicon Valley and whether the drive for innovation degrades our humanity.

[Read a summary at commforum.mit.edu.]

Silicon Valley innovations have given rise to a class of tech titans wielding immense economic and political influence and has paved the way for a cultural shift towards individualism. Has this resulted in historically marginalized groups being left behind once again? Noam Cohen, a former New York Times technology columnist and author of The Know-It-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball, argues that the disruption touted by Silicon Valley occurs at the expense of empathy, civility, and even democracy itself. The result? Everything from fake news to the growing divide between the haves and have-nots. Cohen joins technology critic Sara M. Watson and technology journalist Christina Couch to discuss the ethical push and pull between the drive for innovation and preserving our own humanity and moral codes.


Noam Cohen covered the influence of the Internet on the larger culture for the New York Times, where he wrote the “Link by Link” column beginning in 2007. His first book, The Know-It-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ballwas published in October, 2017.

Sara M. Watson is a technology critic who writes and speaks about emerging issues in the intersection of technology, culture, and society. Her work has appeared in The AtlanticWiredThe Washington PostSlate, and Motherboard. She is an affiliate with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and author of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism’s report on the current state of technology coverage.

Moderator: Christina Couch is a technology journalist and coordinator for the MIT Communications Forum. Her work explores the intersections of technology and psychology and her bylines can be found in Nova NextMIT Technology ReviewFast Company Co.ExistScience Friday, and Wired Magazine.

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MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing offers an innovative academic program that applies critical analysis, collaborative research, and design across a variety of media arts, forms, and practices.

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