Tech elite views reviewed
A study of comments by Silicon Valley elites finds the top 100 all see the world in similar meritocratic, self-affirming and self-serving terms.
The research from Jacobs University Bremen in Germany shows the world’s tech elite hold views distinct from the broader wealth elite and the general population.
It also suggests that economists and social analysts should consider the world’s tech elite as a “class for itself”.
Researcher Hilke Brockmann and colleagues set out to investigate the worldviews of the 100 richest people in the tech world (as defined by Forbes).
The authors initially approached all 100 of their subjects for a face-to-face interview, but only one person agreed. So, the team analysed 49,790 tweets from 30 verified Twitter account holders within this tech elite subject group (and the same number of Tweets from a random sample of the general US Twitter-using population for comparison purposes).
They also analysed 60 mission statements from tech elite-run philanthropic websites, plus statements from 17 tech elites and other super-rich elites not associated with the tech world (for comparison purposes) who signed the Giving Pledge; a philanthropic initiative of Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates.
There were no statistically significant differences in whether or not the tech elite Twitter users saw a positive relationship between power and money or power and democracy as compared to the general Twitter sample.
However, they did note that tech elites denied a connection between democracy and money, a belief not shared by the ordinary Twitter users sampled.
The tech elite philanthropists also tended to use more similar, meritocratic language as a group, with “education”, “work”, and “social” appearing frequently in their statements along with an emphasis on personal agency, progress and impact.
The analysis indicates the tech elite hold a strong positive interest in “making the world a better place”, but the authors note this belief is often frequently espoused by other very rich people as well.
The researchers hope that the study will serve as a starting point for future inquiries into this new class of elite, distinct from previous elite groups and continuing to rise in wealth and power as our world’s reliance on technology grows.
“The tech elite may be thought of as a ‘class for itself’ in Marx’s sense--a social group that shares particular views of the world, which in this case means meritocratic, missionary, and inconsistent democratic ideology,” the authors state.