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A Way Forward
What Pivot Is.
Pivot For Humanity, or Pivot, is an ambitious project to make social technology a moral profession and upgrade silicon valley from the inside out, equipping it to meet the righteous demands being made by consumers, activists, and civil society.
We’re not promoting an alternative to breaking up or regulating the tech giants. We see ourselves as a necessary complement to that approach — working with reformers within the system who are sympathetic to the reformers outside the system.
If you support efforts to reduce the harm done by silicon valley while we’re waiting for political pressure to be brought to bear on it, you’re in the right place.
We want to lay out clearly the roadmap we’re abiding by, the theory of change that undergirds it, and what we hope to accomplish.
What We All Need And Want.
We all need and want silicon valley to act like grown-ups, not unaswerable boy kings.
We all need and want the technology that permeates practically every aspect of our lives, from elections to criminal punishment to mental health, to be thoughtfully designed and responsibly deployed.
We all need and want the tech giants to go from rogue to pro, to reform their practices and be held accountable for their actions.
Why We Don’t Have It Yet.
Right now, silicon valley claim they have the power to change everything but themselves.
Wars. Genocides. Elections. Who goes to jail. Who gets the job. Who gets to live. Who gets to die. The fate of entire nation-states. All have turned, and will continue to turn, on the private decisions of a select few, unelected programmers, in a select few, intensely guarded rooms. Mostly male. Mostly white. Utterly insulated from the fallout of their decisions. All of them crafting algorithms that in turn craft a human society from which they have increasingly set themselves apart.
How We’re Going To Get What We All Need And Want.
We’re not going to solve a problem as big as an unaccountable social tech industry without as many people trying as many approaches as possible. Hammeringly loudly from the outside. Slowly working on the inside. Antitrust. Regulation. Consumer pressure. All should be on the table. Our genuinely species-wide problems — climate change, hate, economic inequality — are all tied to getting tech back on track.
Here’s the approach no one else is taking, that we see as our lane:
What We Mean When We Say “Professionalize Silicon Valley”
When an industry grows up, industrial sociologists call it “professionalization.”
Professionalization is a simple word for the very complicated, big, messy, revolutionary process whereby a trade slowly becoming a profession, with enforceable, uniform professional standards and a culture of accountability.
It's the story of the law catching up to the needs of practitioners and patients. It's the story of licensing and certification. It's the story of billions of person-hours devoted to hammering out the ethical edge-cases encountered by doctors, and then instructing new doctors on that wisdom.
What We
Don't
Mean When We Say “Professionalize Silicon Valley”
Professionalization is necessary. But we know it isn’t sufficient.
No single solution is big enough to tackle this problem — it’s going to take an All Of The Above approach, and we support the efforts of groups like Demand Progress and the Center for Humane Technology. But professionalization is one of the biggest solutions we have in our arsenal.
There are many proposals to regulate or break up social tech giants. Pivot For Humanity is not ideologically opposed to those goals. We're not saying "no, but"; we're saying "yes, and":
To Sum Up
It’s time for technologists to take professional oaths that recognize the debt and obligations they owe those affected by their technology: the whole of humanity.
It’s time for the tech industry’s self-imposed perpetual childhood to end.
The social tech industry broke the future. We aim to fix it, before it’s too late.