The Technology 202: 2019 brought new challenges to Silicon Valley. Here’s how the Post covered it.December 19, 2019
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2019 was the year the techlash got real for Silicon Valley.
The industry still hasn’t recovered from the reckoning, despite pressure to do more to improve privacy and address disinformation as the 2020 election approaches. Lawmakers, presidential candidates and regulators targeted Silicon Valley in unprecedented ways, handing out record-setting fines and opening broad investigations into the industry’s power.
The Washington Post’s expanded technology team led coverage of this period of the industry’s adolescence, as reporters broke major stories and found creative ways to illustrate society’s ever-evolving relationship with the Internet. My colleagues submitted their favorite stories from the past year, along with their thoughts about what these articles said about the state of tech as we head into the next decade.
- Trust in tech giants eroded, as consumers got more suspicious about how companies were using their data.
From Geoffrey A. Fowler, technology columnist: “The idea of your phone secretly surveilling you while you sleep captures this fraught moment in our relationship with technology. We’re suspicious our data has a secret life — and this experiment confirmed it. Consumer trust is evaporating quickly — and tech companies have to earn it back by being more transparent about what they’re doing with our data.”
2. Algorithms and data-mining went mainstream — as the surveillance tech conjured in Silicon Valley influenced everything from summer camps to college admissions.
Debate may be raging about government uses of facial-recognition technology, but the technology already is an accepted part of Americans’ everyday lives. Now hundreds of summer camps across the United States have tethered their rustic lakefronts to facial-recognition software, allowing parents an increasingly omniscient view into their kids’ home away from home.
From Drew Harwell, artificial intelligence reporter: “Algorithms that analyze our faces, behavior and bodies are now mainstream. A flood of cheap cameras, sensors and microphones — and a growing public acceptance in trading privacy for comfort and ease — has reshaped the American workplace and family quicker than anyone expected.”