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Silicon Valley won’t save us — but we can’t blame it for everything, either

So says tech critic Andrew Keen, whose next book “How to Fix the Future” is about finding real solutions.

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“How to Fix the Future” author Andrew Keen Jens Panduro

After a long honeymoon period, the mounting backlash to Silicon Valley indicates that tech is becoming more and more like any other business, author Andrew Keen says.

“We’re in a new stage, the political stage, where you don’t have Eric Schmidt running the White House,” Keen said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “Silicon Valley now is no longer the apple of most American citizens’ eye. They’re going to have to work hard — like Wall Street, like any other industry — to get what they want.”

Keen’s new book, “How to Fix the Future,” is scheduled to be released Feb. 6. In it, he argues for reasonable solutions to problems created by the Digital Revolution, including economic inequality and an “imminent crisis of jobs.”

“We need to recognize that many of the skills that were essential in the industrial economy are not going to be essential now,” he said. “One of the most important ways of dealing with the jobs crisis is through education. I think we need to rethink education, we need to focus on the skills we can do where we’re not competing with thinking machines.”

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Keen also talked about his history as a critic of tech, as expressed in books like “The Cult of the Amateur,” “Digital Vertigo” and “The Internet Is Not the Answer.” While writing his new book, he consciously looked for a pragmatic way to be hopeful about what might come next, and part of the answer was putting the disruptions of the internet age into historical context.

“We can flip this thing on its head, and suddenly from being our savior, technology becomes the problem, and neither of those things is true,” Keen said. “We’ve got to walk a fine line between digital utopianism and dystopianism.”

“I think the most culturally problematic thing about Silicon Valley is this general amnesia, this idea that, ‘If we’ve thought of it, no one’s thought of it before,’” he added. “You see that in the work of people like Tristan Harris, who have suddenly discovered that tech is addictive. There are lots of people who knew that before; all you had to do is read Nick Carr.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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