Philosophy and Silicon Valley: Musk, Gates, Bezos, Page and Brin

We enter a much debated point with which you might not agree: the reference to whether innovators or technological leaders are philosophers or not. Although it is true that they are related to Pythagoras by mathematical lineage, many would consider that they could not be pure philosophers as they lack the proper philosophical attribute in their abstract conception.

Well, from my point of view, philosophy involves various aspects. One of them has to do with our coexistence, which is why the question arises: how can we coexist? Today in the digital age, these privileged minds have implanted a new way of life in the world, or have modified it.

The philosopher Julián Marías frames us the aspect of the way of life: “Philosophy has been understood mainly as two things: a science and a way of life. The word philosopher has involved in itself the two different meanings of the man who possesses a certain knowledge and the man who lives and behaves in a peculiar way.

He continues: “out of astonishment men began, now and in the beginning, to philosophize, first being amazed at the strange things that were closest to hand, and then, advancing in this way little by little, questioning the most serious things such as the movements of the Moon, the Sun and the stars and the generation of the whole.” We have, then, as the most concrete root of philosophizing, a human attitude that is wonder.

Due to the technological age, human activity has been benefited as well as modified. A clear example is the Covid-19 pandemic that spread throughout the world, where thanks to technological innovations thousands of companies, businesses and schools were able to subsist and continue, as far as possible, with their activities. Social networks have changed human relationships in all ages.

The technological era that has touched us is based, among other sciences, on mathematics, which, as we will see, was also present thousands of years ago, but accompanied by another science: philosophy. The vast experience or knowledge of both sciences in the past had as a result that characters of that time questioned the very nature and existence of being; these philosophers were influenced in their knowledge, as I repeat, by mathematics.

Part of the philosophers of Greece were mathematicians, examples of which were Thales of Miletus, Pythagoras, Archytas of Tarentum, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid and others. But now a new breed has emerged, which are the last mathematicians of our era, and therefore of the technological one, whom we find in technological innovations. Some more mathematical than others, for example: Ada, Countess of Lovelace, George Boole, John Vincent Atanasoff, John von Neumann, Stewart Brand, Alan Turing, Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Arthur William Russell, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Tim Berners-Lee, Jack Ma, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Elon Musk, Eric Schmidt, Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia (Airbnb), Travis Kalanick, Garrett Camp (Uber), John Zimmer, Logan Green (Lyft ), Chen Wei (Didi), Peter Gassner, Arash Ferdowsi, etc.

Galileo Galilei, who was another mathematician, pointed out: “Philosophy is written in this book that is open before our eyes —I am referring to the universe—, but it will be completely impossible for us to understand it, if we are not first capable of grasping the language and learn the signs with which it is written. It is written in mathematical language. The symbols are triangles, circles and others without which it is impossible to understand any words. Without his understanding we would find ourselves locked in a dark labyrinth.”

Due to the above, in my recent literary work I support the thesis that the leaders of Silicon Valley are Pythagoreans, finding philosophy through numbers, whose innovations have started, as Julián Marías formulated, from the astonishment of human beings and carry the human relationships to a metaverse from quantifying our lives on the web.

Author of the recent book “The philosophers in the technological age. The Pythagoreans of Today”.

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Philosophy and Silicon Valley: Musk, Gates, Bezos, Page and Brin