“Burn Book” ignites the titans of technology in the love-hate story of a veteran Silicon Valley reporter

Technology is so pervasive and invasive that it polarizes people, producing love-hate feelings toward its devices, its online services, and the would-be visionaries behind them.

Longtime Silicon Valley correspondent Kara Swisher explains how we got to this point in her searing memoir, “burn a book,” Coming out on Tuesday, it's a show that also seeks to avoid technological catastrophe on the perilous road that still lies ahead.

Swisher criticizes many once-idealistic tech moguls who, when she met them as entrepreneurs decades ago, promised to change the world for the better, but often chose the path of destructive disruption instead. Along the way, they amassed astonishing fortunes that separated them from reality.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who sweated while… On-stage interview with Swisher In 2010, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who once spoke to her regularly before cutting off communications after he bought Twitter in 2022, was portrayed in its harshest light.

“If Mark Zuckerberg was the most damaging man in tech to me, Musk was the most frustrating,” Swisher wrote in her 300-page book.

This is one of the milder criticisms in an often scathing takedown by one of the most respected and feared reporters covering technology. Her reputation is such that Swisher has become as synonymous with Silicon Valley as the famous entrepreneurs who have shaped the sector since she began covering the industry in the 1990s.

According to her book, CEOs, including Zuckerberg and Musk, regularly gave her exclusive interviews, gave her scoops, and sometimes secretly called her for advice. When the HBO series “Silicon Valley” needed someone to play an influential reporter in an episode, Swisher was cast to play her — a role she still fills regularly as a technology commentator on major TV networks.

See also  The FAA found "multiple instances" of quality control issues at Boeing

Swisher no longer resides in Silicon Valley. She moved to Washington, D.C., a few years ago, mostly because that's where his wife worked, but also because she felt the need to escape what was becoming an increasingly toxic and isolating scene.

But she remains engaged — and concerned — about what's happening with technology, especially with the accelerating rise of artificial intelligence and its potential to cause more harm than she thinks has already happened through social media, smartphones and other products she no longer uses. It is not tightly regulated.

Swisher told The Associated Press that she hopes “Burn Book” will be a shot in the crosshairs for both the tech industry and governments around the world, a warning that the same mistakes made over the past 20 years must not be repeated with AI leaks. In all corners of society.

“Don't get fooled again,” Swisher said of what she hopes the book's main takeaway will be. “We need our government to hold these people (the tech industry) accountable and that's not happening. We need them to understand the consequences because they certainly haven't done us right regarding the harmful parts of technology. We need to stop letting them off the hook.”

Swisher initially didn't want to write another book, partly because she became more interested in focusing on her Pivotal Podcast. But she finally found success after she hired Neil Scoville, who co-wrote a best-selling book with former Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, to help her remember all the stories she had accumulated.

See also  Deposit drain from small banks to JPM, WFC and C has slowed

Those memories led her to break down some of the world's richest people in her book, but Swisher isn't worried about the backlash.

“I don’t care what they think,” Swisher said. “The worst thing I do is tell people what I think of them, but I'm honest.”

Musk, who also runs rocket ship maker SpaceX and social media company X, used the derogatory term anus to describe Swisher in his last email to her in October 2022, according to her book.

“You can see it every day on Twitter (which Musk renamed X), something is wrong with it,” Swisher said of Musk during the AP interview. “He is so desperate for attention, he is a classic narcissist turned malignant narcissist.”

Swisher doesn't spend her entire book attacking technology leaders. She devotes an entire chapter to “the guys” in the industry, a list that includes Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, investor Mark Cuban and the late Dave Goldberg, who was CEO of SurveyMonkey and Sandberg’s husband when he died in 2015 while on vacation in Mexico. She also has mostly kind words for the likes of former Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, former Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, Apple CEO Tim Cook and his late predecessor Steve Jobs.

Ultimately, Swisher said she hopes to look to technology leaders at the forefront of AI, especially Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, the San Francisco startup behind the popular chatbot ChatGPT.

“The one thing I like about Sam is his ability to keep two conflicting ideas in his head at the same time,” Swisher said. “Of course, he'll be a technology optimist, but he's not a technology idiot. Now what's going to be a problem is that he takes what he wants, even though he's wary of unsafe things, and then doesn't do anything about it. That's what a lot of these tech moguls have done.”

See also  Sources say SoftBank's Arm aims to raise at least $8 billion in a US IPO

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *