The Information Technology sector (Big Tech) is the largest sector of our economy, worth more than 7 TRILLION dollars in the US alone. The 2016 election cycle and Trump’s triumph caused a panic and pullback from the largest members in this sector. Motivated now by fear of others’ values and politics, Big Tech wants to censor and control users’ speech, as well as manipulate and use their data irrespective of their concerns and objections.
In contrast, the pro-life movement is motivated by respect for others without qualification. It exemplifies the opposite set of values, free from control and manipulation.
Where Big Tech uses people as a commodity, the pro-life movement sees people as individual, free subjects – each a gift from God.
In an increasingly secular world, it is easier to see a person as a product rather than a subject with inviolable dignity from a Creator. Unfortunately, today belief in a deity as Creator of human life makes some people uncomfortable. It shouldn’t. This belief in a Creator guarantees respect for every individual. If we all have one common origin, we are equal and therefore possess the same rights. This basic logic is foundational to a free and prosperous world.
Big Tech had once made the promise that the internet and technology would democratize information. Sadly, the internet and its facilitators have lost their way in that original mission, unnerved by a few setbacks. For the benefit of a healthy society and a free market, technology must return to this original promise. That’s a tall order. Yet, it can be done by learning from the pro-life movement.
The pro-life movement has staying power. It’s the largest social and civil rights moment in history. The secret sauce is constant openness to others. In spite of the daunting task, naysayers, accusers, enemies, obstacles, and lack of funding, the pro-life movement persists in being open to all no matter what. The movement unwaveringly toils with the legal and moral levers of our society, deftly navigating them in order to pursue its quest to protect life at all stages. This example of defending the weakest – every person – is a national treasure.
The lesson here is that the movement fights what it sees as evil while exercising care for others. That is the mark of legitimate and authentic quality – next level, in fact. The pro-life movement separates the act from the actor and responds with love and patience. Instead of rage, it accepts legal reality while advocating for change through direct service, legal, political, and moral channels. It faces what it considers abhorrent with calm respect.
Respect for life is not just a slogan but the movement’s motivation.
Big Tech should take note. Tech operates in a praxis of bid, buy, sell, profits, politics, and ideology. It fears losing business and its advantage in the marketplace. However, post 2016, when fear moves away from strictly business concerns and toward the fear of fellow citizens’ views and beliefs, their actions are dangerously wrong and misplaced.
Big Tech must look to the pro-life movement to find a more wholesome formulation of citizenship that respects all life and viewpoints. And urgently. With the advent of artificial intelligence, automation, robotics, data mining, etc. the stakes are higher than ever before. People are not mere cogs of a machine or products in a consumer world. Each is a possessor of rights.
Fair treatment is really the only true reason we have business enterprise. Profit and power are the root of evil. Respect for life is the anecdote.
While it is true that Big Tech is not a charity or ministry, excluding or disrespecting others on a grand scale through viewpoint discrimination paralyzes debate and the free exchange of ideas, devaluing a person arbitrarily. Devaluing a person opens the door to disrespecting and censoring their views, quickly followed by mistrust, fear, mistreatment, and even violence.
That is why censorship, filter bubbles, shadow bans, manipulation of ads and search results, and the pursuit of profit while treating people as inhuman is bad business and bad policy. These unfair practices are not based on respect or freedom, nor do they promote a free market.
The pro-life movement’s longevity is due to its ability to overcome hardship, not with fear, but with openness to all. Likewise, Big Tech should face its fear of others’ beliefs and politics. It should bravely treat all as equals and respect their users’ inherent rights.
Instead of censoring pro-lifers, Big Tech should allow their ideas to flourish or fail in the free market without impediments or onerous rules. If Big Tech were more like the pro-life movement, more solicitous and respectful of others, the Digital/Information Age could then live up to its name.
This does not mean Big Tech has to become “pro” anything. It’s just good civics. America’s success both legally and financially is based on its respect for people and their civil rights. Tech would do well to remember that this foundation – acknowledging and protecting the dignity of each person – is what allowed their industry and every other institution to flourish in the United States.