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“Companies in Silicon Valley are wonderfully fond of describing themselves as “mission-driven.” Palantir has raised nearly $2 billion “working for the common good” and “doing what’s right.” At Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes promised “actionable information at the time it matters.” And for the past four years, Google and Facebook have occupied top spots on Business Insider’s annual list of the “Best Places to Work,” not merely because they dispense such perks as free laundry and subsidized dental care, but also because they claim to offer their workers the chance to be part of a meaningful project of global scope.
In that sense, mission statements are as much directed internally, at employees, as they are externally, at the public. The hours may be long and the competition fierce, the implicit message goes, but it’s worth it because the reward is spiritual as well as tangible. At some tech companies, faith in the mission is encouraged to the point that it resembles religious belief. Employees are invited to see themselves as proselytizers for the transformation of society, spreading the ideas of a company and its leaders around the world.
What happens, though, when the mission doesn’t accord with the behavior of a company or the values of its employees? For many, it has become increasingly impossible to believe that tech firms are working disinterestedly in service of some larger social good. Employees at Google have staged walkouts to protest sexual harassment and petitioned the company to halt its plans to develop a search engine that supports Chinese government censorship. Workers at both Google and Microsoft spoke out against providing cloud services for the Department of Defense, and Amazon employees posted an internal letter protesting how Amazon Web Services provides facial recognition technology to police.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers. The aftermath has produced one of the world’s most perplexing postwar challenges..."
"What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change."
"...the pendulum of history never stops moving. Indeed, one of the few constants of history is unceasing change. While we seem to be heading in one direction, we must remember that there will surely be pauses, turns, and reversals."
""Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé," premiered early Wednesday and it was the fulfillment of all the ancestors' hopes and dreams. Beyoncé also dropped "Homecoming: The Live Album.""
"Seven in 10 adults ages 18 to 34 received financial support from their parents in the last year, including more than half of those in their early 30s. Almost three in five millennials said they couldn’t afford their lifestyles without the support."
"Social media influencers have helped turn public lands into tourist-infested swamps. And one cantankerous man is fighting back."
"One particular myth that attached itself to Ledger was that his death was somehow a result of immersing himself in the character of the Joker."
"In 2018, for the second year in a row, American publishers released fewer translated titles: 609 books were published, down from 650 in 2017 and the industry high in 2016 of 666."
"Egg freezing had become so routine among my single peers that when I hit 35, I never thought twice. Here’s what I wish I had known."
"When it comes to Passover cuisine, most home cooks know to avoid wheat, oats, rye, and other forbidden ingredients. But what consumers might not realize is just how much cotton they eat during the holiday."
"A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see."
"Passover is a holiday that commemorates the Jewish people escaping slavery in Egypt. It is often referred to as the “festival of freedom.” My Passover in prison was at a place called the Wallkill Correctional Facility..."