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The Beginning: a Stanford University lab embarked on an idealistic quest to create an artificial intelligence that would benefit society, perhaps even profit the makers. There were few women or minorities in the department and its head rejected the very idea of authority, but really - what could go wrong?
Now: more and more aspects of our lives are being dictated by a tiny, unaccountable elite, a breakaway sect of free-market libertarians who are determined to bypass government and enrich themselves at the expense of society. Pioneers and self-proclaimed geniuses like Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman and Mark Zuckerberg have not only made the Internet what it is today - their impact on the world has been profound.
This is a history of Silicon Valley through its eleven greatest entrepreneurs and a damning indictment of the greed, bias and outright prejudice of an industry that is fracturing America and taking the rest of us with it.
Noam Cohen wrote the Link-by-Link column in the New York Times from 2007-15, reporting on Wikipedia, Twitter, Bitcoin, ad blockers and other disruptive technologies. He lives in Brooklyn with his family.