Bloomberg: One Big Reason to Doubt Tech Has a Liberal Bias

One Big Reason to Doubt Tech Has a Liberal Bias
Above all, Silicon Valley’s denizens are capitalists and don’t want to alienate potential customers.
Bloomberg, August 27, 2018.

 

 

 

We had some friends over for some swimming and a barbecue this weekend. She works in information technology, he is an insurance lawyer. They have had a subscription to National Review for longer (at least 25 years) than any under 50 peers I know.

All of their kids (ages 6 to 14) seem permanently attached to their iPads. They are as tech savvy as anyone from that generation is. But when their oldest asked me “Why does Alexa hate Jesus,” I was taken aback.

Apparently, he had seen this video, which seems to suggest Alexa is not a fan of Jesus Christ (the video was later shown to be a hoax 1). Rather than lecture the child, I suggested we ask Alexa a few questions to see if she (it?) really does dislike Christ. We asked:

When was Jesus born?
Who is Jesus Christ?
Is Jesus Christ Lord and Savior?

All of the answers satisfied the boy, who attends a private Catholic school in the suburbs of New York. Although that meme was debunked to his liking, it raised a bigger and more interesting question: Where does these memes come from? Is there a bias built into technology?

We know that highly educated, coastal urban dwellers tend to lean left, but does this mean that their platforms are biased?

The evidence so far remains unconvincing. Why would any tech company want to alienate a huge swath of potential customers? Nearly 63 million people voted for Donald Trump; almost 66 million voted for Hillary Clinton. Why would any major mainstream company want to alienate 48.8 percent of their potential customers? The denizens of Silicon Valley are capitalists. They want to be able to take their firms public, cash out, start the next great company. Whatever bias may exist at tech firms is much more nuanced than most people imagine.

One last issue we have not discussed: Does reality have a liberal bias? Stephen Colbert used this sarcasm so effectively at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner,2 and on the Colbert Report discussing “Truthiness.” There are facts and there is what we want to believe regardless of the facts. The latter is the path to surefire investment disaster . . .

 

 

See the complete column at Bloomberg

 

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1. “Conservative comedian Steve Crowder upset and may have duped some conservative news outlets over the weekend, by posting a video he said showed that Amazon’s personal electronic assistant, “Alexa,” is ideologically liberal.

Crowder on Friday uploaded a video of himself asking Alexa politically charged questions about gender, religion and abortion rights. Asked at one point, “Who is the Lord Jesus Christ?” his Alexa responded, “Jesus Christ is a fictional character.” A few conservative news sites wrote up the video in news stories, including the Daily Wire, a blog run by conservative provocateur Ben Shapiro.

But the Daily Wire took the story down after declaring it a hoax. “Sorry, everybody!” Daily Wire reporter Frank Camp wrote. “I should have understood that the ‘Steven Crowder talks to Alexa’ video wasn’t real. I feel incredibly dumb for having done a piece about it.”

2. “I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don’t pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in “reality.” And reality has a well-known liberal bias.

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