Facebook’s corporate religion held that cooperation would blossom as its social network drew the world together. Meanwhile, Google’s founder Sergey Brin argued that the politicians who won national elections should “withdraw from [their] respective parties and govern as independents in name and in spirit.” System Error recounts how Reich was invited to a private dinner of SV leaders who wanted to figure out how to build the ideal society to maximize scientific and technological progress. When Reich asked whether this society would be democratic, he was scornfully told that democracy holds back progress. The participants struggled with how to attract people to move to or vote for such a society. Still, they assumed that as SV reshaped the world, democratic politics—with its messiness, factionalism, and hostility to innovation—would give way to cleaner, more functional systems that deliver what people really want. Of course, this did not work.
New tools and technology policy might help, but politics come first.