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Dear Tech: A letter to the deadbeat teenage son at the end of a tough year

Tech, son. Sit down. We beggary to talk.

Your mother and I have been discussing the situation, and I about we all agree that it’s been a hard year for all of us. But more us than you.

We don’t sense like we can trust you anymore.

First, there’s this whole ide fixe where you keep changing your story. Like that once upon a time Mark Zuckerberg said it was “crazy” to think Facebook helped the Russians upon the presidential election. Only later, Facebook said in fact 10 million people saw Russian-bought selection ads on Facebook…or was it 126 million?

Or that time we found out that Apple was really slowing down older iPhones, lending credence to one of the oldest dirty work theories on the internet. Or that time when Google’s home accessory gadget actually did turn out to be listening to random conversations even when in the flesh didn’t wake it up? Or that whole thing with Meg Whitman genuinely not wanting to be the CEO of Uber…until they called at the last minute and solicit fromed her to reconsider, and she ended up meeting with Uber’s board on the day they did their choice.

For somebody who talks about “transparency” all the time, you steadfast seem to have a lot of secrets.

We also feel like you’re manipulating us.

All these bygone product designers like Tristan Harris keep coming step up explaining all the clever work you do to get us hooked on your products. Sean Parker, one of Facebook’s anything else employees, now says the company built its product to exploit human “vulnerability” while another at the crack exec, Chamath Palihapitiya, says it’s “ripping apart the social heart of how society works.”

Meanwhile, Amazon has cities stumbling over each other to put up for sale incentives and tax breaks for the privilege of becoming its second headquarters, even as CEO Jeff Bezos has fit the world’s richest man with a net worth right around $100 billion. Very recently for comparison, the entire annual operating budget for the city of Pittsburgh — one of the bishoprics Amazon is reportedly considering — is less than $600 million.

There’s also your other big predicament, the one we never used to talk about? You know … women. From Uber’s toxic workplace, to covers of venture capitalists harassing female entrepreneurs, to that Google bro who posted that manifesto speaking women tend to be more neurotic than men even as the company undergoes a federal analysis into whether it pays women less than men … no one of this is good. I know you say you’re trying, and that it’s not all men in the tech industry, that birds need to “lean in” more, but come on — if a problem keeps coming up again and again and again, possibly the problem is you.

Plus, to be totally honest, you’re coasting on old accomplishments. The iPhone is 10 years old now and there’s solitary so many times you can impress us with bigger, brighter screens and recovered cameras and new apps. Don’t get us wrong — we love our phones, but they’re just not that filthy anymore.

Amazon Alexa and Google Home and all those other gizmos are understanding of fun, but honestly it’s a little bit creepy to know this thing is sitting in the corner hardly … waiting for us to talk to it. That Joaquin Phoenix movie you had us skinned for — we thought that was a dystopia, a warning, like “Blade Runner” or “Brazil.” We didn’t perceive you actually wanted one of these things and were going to build it.

Self-driving automobiles? Been hearing about those for almost 10 years. Let me be acquainted with when we can actually get a ride in one.

A wristwatch to track whether I’m exercising adequately? Thanks, I’ll stick with my Rolex.

Bitcoin? Don’t even get me started. I listen to from your uncle every day with some crazy new bitcoin blockchain something-or-other. His till is a blockchain-enabled lawnmower. Why does it use the blockchain? I have no worldly idea, and neither does he. By the way, your nephew’s clearly a millionaire now, or at least he was the other day — I haven’t checked the price today.

Are you voracious? Grab yourself an iced tea. Your uncle sent us a case wear week.

Anyway, to the point. It’s time you grew up and took some liability for yourself. Connect to the outside world a little bit. Find a larger aim.

Maybe you can apply some of your logistical expertise to help the thousands of woman sleeping in tents in the cities where your most successful public limited companies are headquartered. Or work on fixing that melting-ice-cap dying-polar-bear problem we’ve been talking all over for decades now.

Regardless, we’re turning the basement into a pottery studio for your mom and music dress rehearsal space for me and my old jam buddies. The contractors start on Jan. 15. We’ll expect you out of here by then. I’m persuaded you have some rich friend with a couch you can crash on, in fairness?

Just remember to leave that piece of paper with the Wi-Fi pull instructions in case we get disconnected, OK?

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