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EDITORIALOPINION
Silicon Valley Needs a Reality Check
Kim Seung Hye  |  rabbit1sh@korea.ac.kr
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승인 2018.09.21  22:43:31
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A silver streamlined submarine smoothly maneuvers like a sturgeon through the narrow pitch-black winding path to approach the trapped boys. Elon Musk imagined such a scene when he delivered the submersible developed by his company to rescue the boys who had been trapped in Tham Luang cave in Thailand for more than two weeks, on July 9. However, Musk ended up being criticized for his discourtesy and technological incompetence. This unpleasant situation suggests that there is a need to check how Silicon Valley is working in reality.
 
The former governor of Chiang Rai – the northernmost province of Thailand- rejected Musk’s proposal because the vehicle’s design was improper for the real rescue path. As the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Space X and Tesla, Musk serves as an example of the drawbacks in Silicon Valley. On account of the area’s development, the major entrepreneurs sometimes put excessive credit on their conceptions or abuse their power and technology.
 
Professor Jay Ritter (Warrington College of Business, University of Florida) announced that 76 percent of listed start- up companies in Silicon Valley could not make a profit. As he warned, the prevailing exaggeratedly positive assessments can grow a dangerous economic bubble. Although such possible risk is not well known, hidden by attention on the bright side cast by the media, risky investments in unproven technologies actually occur. For example, Elizabeth Holmes who is the former CEO of Theranos, a start-up for developing a portable blood analyzer, was accused by federal prosecutors on June 14 because she deceived investors about her imperfect apparatus.
 
Such a circumstance indicates the necessity to take actions for inspecting the claimed effectiveness of technologies. Industry experts, including accelerators and angel investors, can play a role in investigating and revealing technical skills. Since such supporters and investors are essential for the growth of companies, they deserve more information with the exception of confidential affairs. It is desirable to make obligatory the cooperation of consultants to check the validity of corporations’ contention about technologies.
 
Moreover, the usage of established technologies is controversial nowadays. Some major firms in Silicon Valley are facing conflicts about their conspiration with the authorities. In April, more than 3100 employees in Google directed a letter to the CEO asking for the refusal of the Pentagon’s Project Maven, which aims to build military drone-attack programs by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. Considering that companies hold the responsibility for their customers and society, conscious resolutions by inter-office directors are vital in the first place.
 
Accepting employees’ opinion, Google announced an ethical guideline about AI in June 7, declaring not to be related to the development of weapons. Though Google’s provision of the guideline is welcomed, its lasting effectiveness is still in doubt. Internal guidelines might not be sufficient since it is difficult for companies to resist requests from the authorities. Thus, transparently revealing cooperative organizations to investors and ordinary people is needed as a countermeasure since it will give them the opportunity to voice their concerns about abuses of power.
 
Along with inspections about technological skills, moral policies for technological usages are required. Assistance from a third party can be provided if arrangements between companies and investors are drawn. Preventing technological abuse is necessary not only because it is ethical but also because it can stop conflicts which would ultimately lead to the decrease in productivity and popularity. In this way, getting rid of possible bubbles that can be formed due to fake promotions will help avoid economic danger and immoral decisions.
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