Jamie Bartlett uncovers the dark reality behind Silicon Valley’s glittering promise to build a better world.
Part 1: The Disruptors
Jamie Bartlett uncovers the dark reality behind Silicon Valley’s glittering promise to build a better world. The tech gods believe progress is powered by technology tearing up the world as it is – a process they call disruption. He visits Uber’s lavish offices in San Francisco and hears how the company believes it is improving our cities. But in Hyderabad in India, Jamie sees for himself the human consequences of Uber’s utopian vision – drivers driven to suicide over falling earnings. Riding shotgun in a truck as it drives itself for more than a hundred miles on a highway, Jamie asks what the next wave of Silicon Valley’s global disruption – the automation of millions of jobs – will mean for all of us. In search of answers, he gets a warning from an artificial intelligence pioneer who is replacing doctors with software – an economic shock is coming, faster than any of us have realised. Jamie’s journey ends in the remote island hideout of a former Facebook executive who has armed himself with a gun because he fears this new industrial revolution could lead to social breakdown and the collapse of capitalism.
Part 2: The Persuasion Machine
Jamie Bartlett reveals how Silicon Valley’s mission to connect the world is disrupting democracy, helping plunge us into an age of political turbulence. Many of the Tech Gods were dismayed when Donald Trump – who holds a very different worldview – won the American presidency, but did they actually help him to win? With the help of a key insider from the Trump campaign’s digital operation, Jamie unravels for the first time the role played by social media and Facebook’s vital role in getting Trump into the White House. But how did Facebook become such a powerful player?
Jamie learns how Facebook’s vast power to persuade was first built for advertisers, combining data about our internet use and psychological insights into how we think. A leading psychologist then shows Jamie how Facebook’s hoard of data about us can be used to predict our personalities and other psychological traits. He interrogates the head of the big data analytics firm that targeted millions of voters on Facebook for Trump – he tells Jamie this revolution is unstoppable. But is this great persuasion machine now out of control? Exploring the emotional mechanisms that supercharge the spread of fake news on social media, Jamie reveals how Silicon Valley’s persuasion machine is now being exploited by political forces of all kinds, in ways no one – including the Tech Gods who created it – may be able to stop.