Fast Company

It’s Time to Burst Silicon Valley’s Tech Bubble

Silicon Valley showrunner Alec Berg just wanted to let viewers in on the joke. When he started writing the satirical HBO series five years ago, the Valley seemed to him like a caricature, rife with overhyped tech products and self-aggrandizing corporate mission statements. It was full of “arrogance” masquerading as “altruism,” Berg says—and he and show creator Mike Judge began skewering the startup industry for dressing up dumb social media apps as world-changing innovations, producing self-driving cars that can’t follow directions, and lionizing machinelike engineers who build things without fear of the consequences. “Those people scare the shit out of me,” laughs Berg, who remembers meeting with various developers in the early years of writing the show and being alarmed by how little consideration they gave to the potential dangers of what they were coding. “It was like, ‘Hey shithead! You understand this has massively bad applications, right?’ But they just don’t see it.”

It’s hard to miss these days. Social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are harming democracies; autonomous vehicles from Tesla and Uber have killed people; and Theranos has been charged by the SEC with a massive fraud that put patients at risk due to sham blood-testing science. The Silicon Valley writers’ Slack channel (yes, they use Slack) started out as a place to brainstorm tech-driven absurdities, like

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