Burning Man, an annual festival that takes place in the Nevada desert, in the USA, recently ended. The origin of the festival is the culture of experimentation originating in California, which brings together outsiders and alternative communities. However, in recent years the festival has been taken over by participants from the technology area, becoming a kind of annual Silicon Valley party.
The 2023 edition, however, was different. It rained heavily in the desert, and the dust of recent years was replaced by mud. This made it difficult to travel internally and externally, and local authorities recommended those attending the festival to save food and water. Many photos circulated of people moving with difficulty through the mud.
It didn’t take long for these images to be interpreted as a metaphor for Silicon Valley itself. The glamor and hype of recent years have been replaced by malaise and a feeling of stagnation.
The city of San Francisco, birthplace of Burning Man, also became symbolic. It became a mix of affluence and poverty, resulting from its proximity to the Valley.
It is in this sense that many people have been asking themselves: is Silicon Valley still innovative? The emergence of the current generation of AI (artificial intelligence) is certainly relevant. However, it is a wave that appears together with a backlash against itself. No sooner had generative AI emerged than a set of demands against it formed. It is being blocked by companies. Authors and creators demand copyright. Several countries (including the US) are working to create laws and regulations for AI.
One of the most recent major innovations in the business model of large Silicon Valley companies is already more than 13 years old. This involves massive data collection, combined with targeted advertising. This model was so economically successful that it generated some accommodation. More than a decade passed and everything remained practically the same.
Interestingly, it took Elon Musk to acquire Twitter for some experimentation in the revenue model to happen again. Musk has been trying to charge for the authentication seal on the platform. He is also moving towards implementing biometrics on Twitter (now X), as a basis for other services, including financial ones.
Other companies noticed these efforts and followed suit. Meta now also sells the authentication seal. A report from The New York Times last week states that the company will also experiment with a subscription service. Users who pay will not see ads on the platform. Something that YouTube Premium has been doing too.
However, the Valley’s current major innovation is Starlink’s advancement as a global internet provider through low-orbit satellites. This is the first time that a single company aims to become a universal internet access provider. The services of all other internet companies are now provided on top of their infrastructure. Whoever controls the connection has the power to control practically everything. Musk has already exercised his new type of power in Ukraine, turning off service in strategic regions that he himself defined.
In short, it is a mistake to bet on the decline of Silicon Valley. It has lost part of its shine, its “soft power”. Its “hard power” remains as intact as ever.
Already it was–Bill to regulate artificial intelligence only in Europe
Already It is–Bill to regulate artificial intelligence in Brazil (copied from the European model)
Already he comes–Bill to regulate artificial intelligence in the USA (with own model)
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