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What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry Into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley

A witty account of how Silicon Valley views itself. In his book Daub unpacks and deconstructs the ideas and language used by the tech industry to validate and justify itself in its quest to create the products that shape our everyday lives. 

Information from the publisher

Adrian Daub’s What Tech Calls Thinking is a lively dismantling of the ideas that form the intellectual bedrock of Silicon Valley. Equally important to Silicon Valley’s world-altering innovation are the language and ideas it uses to explain and justify itself. And often, those fancy new ideas are simply old motifs playing dress-up in a hoodie. From the myth of dropping out to the war cry of “disruption,” Daub locates the Valley’s supposedly original, radical thinking in the ideas of Heidegger and Ayn Rand, the New Age Esalen Foundation in Big Sur, and American traditions from the tent revival to predestination. Written with verve and imagination, What Tech Calls Thinking is an intellectual refutation of Silicon Valley's ethos, pulling back the curtain on the self-aggrandizing myths the Valley tells about itself. 

FSG Originals × Logic dissects the way technology functions in everyday lives. The titans of Silicon Valley, for all their utopian imaginings, never really had our best interests at heart: recent threats to democracy, truth, privacy, and safety, as a result of tech’s reckless pursuit of progress, have shown as much. We present an alternate story, one that delights in capturing technology in all its contradictions and innovation, across borders and socioeconomic divisions, from history through the future, beyond platitudes and PR hype, and past doom and gloom. Our collaboration features four brief but provocative forays into the tech industry’s many worlds, and aspires to incite fresh conversations about technology focused on nuanced and accessible explorations of the emerging tools that reorganize and redefine life today.

 About Adrian Daub

Adrian Daub is a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, and the director of Stanford’s Program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. His research focuses on the intersection of literature, music, and philosophy in the nineteenth century, and he is the author of several books published by academic presses. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, The New Republic, n+1, Longreads, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. He lives in San Francisco. 

Publisher’s website


"There are so many scintillating aperçus in Daub’s book that I gave up underlining... It’s energizing to read a book about tech philosophy aimed at thinkers in beater cars and not thought leaders in Teslas... In Daub’s hands the founding concepts of Silicon Valley don’t make money; they fall apart... Daub brings a Tocqueville-like perspective to what passes for philosophy in the Valley." - Virginia Heffernan, The New York Times Book Review 

"What Tech Calls Thinking is more than the sum of its apothegms. Much of its interest comes from Daub's rapid gauging of the distance between the real stakes of ideas that have been converted into marketing tools and sketchy rationalizations." - Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed

"Readers who worry that a discussion of ideas by an academic must involve a hard slog will be pleasantly surprised...Delightful proof that getting rich does not make you a deep thinker." - Kirkus (starred review)

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