Journalist, tech blogger and director of The Centre For The Analysis Of Social Media Jamie Bartlett – author of several books on technology and politics – explores the reality behind Silicon Valley’s glittering promise to build a better world in two part documentary Secrets of Silicon Valley airing on Sunday 6 August at 8.00pm on BBC Two.
The Tech Gods – those who run the world’s biggest tech companies – believe progress is powered by technological revolution. They are, they say, not just thinking how to make money, but how to do things in a new and better way, a process they call ‘disruption’.
In the programme Jamie meets people who claim they can reverse climate change, create sustainable burgers and connect cities in a new way. He visits Uber’s lavish offices in San Francisco and hears the company’s claim to be improving our cities. But in Hyderabad in India Jamie sees for himself some of the human consequences of Uber’s utopian vision, such as drivers driven to suicide over falling earnings.
But do the problems with disruption go much deeper than that? Back in the USA and riding shotgun in a truck as it drives itself for more than 100 miles on a highway, Jamie asks what the automation of millions of jobs, part of Silicon Valley’s global disruption, will mean for all of us.
An artificial intelligence pioneer who is working to replace doctors with software says an economic shock is coming, faster than any of us have realised. And on a remote island hideout Jamie meets a former Facebook executive who has armed himself with a gun and lives as much off the grid as possible, because he fears this new revolution could lead to social breakdown and the collapse of capitalism.
In the second episode, which airs on Sunday 13 August, Jamie meets the people who harnessed social media to change the shape of politics in the US.
Produced in partnership with The Open University.
Secrets Of Silicon Valley Episode 1 (of 2) airs on Sunday 6 August 2017 from 8.00pm-9.00pm on BBC TWO.