Dont't Be Evil
Last year Rana Foroohar published a book entitled “Don’t Be Evil”. It had a sub-title: “How Big Tech Betrayed its Founding Principles - and All of Us”. The MBA – Innovation and Data Analysis program students discuss it during their classes. It is a controversial but enthralling read. Here is a brief excerpt:
“Don’t be evil” is the famous first line of Google’s original Code of Conduct, what seems today like a quaint relic of the company’s early days, when the crayon colors of the Google logo still conveyed the cheerful, idealistic spirit of the enterprise. How long ago that feels. Of course, it would be unfair to accuse Google of being actively evil. But evil is as evil does, and some of the things that Google and other Big Tech firms have done in recent years have not been very nice.
When Larry Page and Sergey Brin first dreamed up the idea for Google as Stanford graduate students, they probably didn’t imagine that the shiny apple of knowledge that was their search engine would ever get anyone expelled from paradise (as many Google executives have been over a variety of scandals in recent years). Nor could they have predicted the many embarrassments that would emanate from the Googleplex: Google doctoring its algorithms in ways that would deep-six rivals off the crucial first page of its search results. Google’s YouTube hosting instructional videos on how to build a bomb. Google selling ads to Russian agents, granting them use of the platform to spread misinformation and manipulate the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Google working on a potential search engine for China—one that would be compliant with the regime’s efforts to censor unwelcome results. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt leaving his position as executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, a few months after The New York Times revealed he’d been unduly influencing antitrust policy work at a think tank that both his family foundation and Google itself supported, going so far as to push for the firing of a policy analyst who dared to speculate about whether Google might be engaging in anticompetitive practices (something that Schmidt has denied). In May 2019, Schmidt announced he would be stepping down from the Alphabet board as well.