Anil Dash on On Being with Krista Tippett

A great podcast episode from On Being with Krista Tippett

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Two Quotes from the show:

And it’s because of the social positioning of, technology as neutral. So like, “We’re a neutral platform anybody can publish on.” And then when you get to the current state of affairs, which is when you sell advertising, you are brokering attention. And so something that draws more attention and has more emotional appeal will be more successful and more lucrative. Then you say, well, some of the things that are most attention-getting aren’t true.


MR. DASH: That’s a perfect example. I got to watch Twitter from before its public launch. I know the founders and a lot of the leadership very well, less so as there’s been a lot of regime change there.

MS. TIPPETT: [laughs] Regime change. That’s to your point that these are now titans.

MR. DASH: Yeah, exactly. But they were very vocal about their role in Arab Spring.


MR. DASH: They were very vocal about how everybody in Tahrir Square is using Twitter. And when they at least nominally liked the results, then Twitter was taking the credit. And when they don’t like the results, Twitter is a neutral tool. Right? And I’ve been that guy. I’m not pointing fingers. But we did learn that lesson.

And then if you look at every other professional discipline, you look at somebody who goes to law school, somebody who goes to business school, journalism school, medical school, every single one of those disciplines has a professional society that sets standards. And if you don’t meet them, you can be disbarred. You can lose your medical license. There’s an expectation about what you’re supposed to do.

And in the educational process, there’s an extensive ethical curriculum. The bridge has to stay up; it can’t fall down. You have a historical tradition where, in medicine, they’re going back to Hippocrates. In law, you’re like talking about English common law that happened centuries ago. And then in computer science, they’re sort of radically anti-historical. Not even ahistorical, just like, there is nothing before now.

We refuse to see — there is no before time. And there is zero ethical curriculum. You can get a top-of-the-line, the highest credential computer science degree from the most august institutions with essentially having had zero ethics training. And that is, in fact, the most likely path to getting funded as a successful startup in Silicon Valley.