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Will ordinary people ever rise up against technology’s endless march?

Will ordinary people ever rise up against technology’s endless march?

Tech backlash or last hurrahs of the technophobes?

That is the question now being entertained for the millionth time and it presents a new angle on jobs, high tech, well paid jobs.

People have always opposed new technology. Centuries ago, the Luddites smashed machinery they realised was destroying old jobs. New developments have always done away with old ways of doing things and forced industries and cultures to reinvent, adapt, change,move on.

The camera was opposed by many in the 19th century as an intrusion into people’s privacy.

Google Glass Not Too Popular

Google claims as tens of thousands of people have started buying the devices, they are popular and will only get more so. Google use the digital war cry: Glass lets you you look up and engage with the world around you.

That’s what hey said about PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets …. engage with the world around you. For decades now, the human senses are not enough to ‘engage with your natural world’ but you must be helped with all kinds of digital paraphernalia.

But not everybody is happy. From California come reports of some San Francisco bars banning wearers of Glass from entering. Other customers do not like the feeling they are being filmed without giving their consent.

Some people have angrily snatched glasses from wearers as a protest. Sarah Slocum, a technology writer, had hers snatched from her face and was shouted out by people who said she was ‘killing the city.’

That was a reference to the fightback by ordinary California citizens who fear their city is being priced beyond them by highly paid techies. Many would be house-buyers in London, for example, feel the same way about the highly paid who are pricing them out.

Salaries and Restrictions

This links with a case that is electrifying a California court. The giants of Silicon Valley (Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe) are locked in a dispute about how tech giants operate and how they hang on to their staff.

Normally the court cases are about copyright as one alleges another has stolen their designs. Now a group of executives are alleging the companies colluded to suppress their salaries. Companies signed ‘no poach’ agreements among themselves so that top range staff will not be seduced to desert and join a rival company.

Some commentators believe there were heavy-handed techniques employed to get these agreements up and running such as legal threats. Only Facebook seems to have refused to join in. Sheryl Sandberg said as much in her court papers deposited ahead of the hearings.

High salaries go on rising as companies are keen to hang on to staff, protect their secrets and avoid training new people unless they are geniuses. This kind of agreement (collusion?) certainly helps to keep a brake on company salaries.

If someone cannot earn more with a rival, why jump ship? Perhaps UK football clubs should employ the same tactics?

Whether it’s legal, good business habit or even desirable, one interesting side effect to emerge from the case is how far these major companies were prepared to go to keep it off the radar of the media and ordinary citizens.

What they’ve also done is put ‘pan-industry, no poach deals’ into the public domain as a new phrase into the public lexicon.

Some connected blogs from our archives:

The Race Is On: In Lane 1 We Have Google, In Lane 2 It’s Apple, 10 February 2014

Some People Have Seen the Future: It’s a Legal Minefield, 26 November 2013

No Place for the Human Touch in Complex Algorithms, 20 August 2013

Thinking Outside the Glass Box Clears the View of Tomorrow, 22 July 2013

Google’s Digital Mirror Reflects the World As It Is, Or How it May Be, 26 June 2013

The Technology Debate Is Now More or Less, With Something In Between, 10 June 2013

Too Big to Care About Public Opinion: How the Web Encourages Companies to Ignore What People Think, 20 May 2013

The Protest-Agitation Movement Is Becoming An Armchair Activity, 15 April 2013

Net Giants Will Always Overwhelm, Control and Suck People Dry, 26 February 2013

Image: Piotr Drabik