Silicon Valley titans, including Travis Kalanick, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, have all been ascribed super-villain status at some point.
The notion of a meglomaniac CEO with an evil alter-ego is ingrained in pop culture. Classic examples include Lex Luthor, who turned his own company into a multinational corporation, or Norman Osborn, better known as Green Goblin, who pioneered his multi-billion-dollar association, Oscorp.
While super villains may be inspired by comic books and TV, the boots of a modern-day super villain could very well be filled by the founders of megalithic corporations such as Facebook, Amazon, Google, Windows and Uber. The world is increasingly reliant on these multi-billion corporations, giving these tech titans power and influence over our personal lives through the way we connect, consume and create on these platforms. Only this week, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced the creation of a new company, Neuralink, devoted to the development of brain-computer interfaces. Musk has recently been cryptically tweeting about “neural lace” — an additional digital layer surgically implanted in humans, which he claims will revolutionise the treatment of brain conditions and spinal-cord injuries, but also help us overcome the robots that he fears will make humans obsolete.
But there are some who fear something even worse — that dark forces could hack such devices and thereby gain control of humanity. While it may sound like the stuff of science fiction, it would be wrong to underestimate the power of these visionaries.
Here Billionaire lists the tech billionaires whom we hope would never choose the dark side.
Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet
His suppressed internal animosity at all forms of inefficiency inspired the launch of the revolutionary web search engine Google, which, on the surface, allowed for the ease of access to web information at everyone’s fingertips. What we don’t know is, the very medium we use to gain our information can easily be the medium of blackmail Travis could use against us, as he could look up every webpage we’ve ever browsed. Scary, isn’t it?
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
Nothing says ‘villainy’ more than a gigantic robot suit. With Bezos recently going public with pictures of himself in a gigantic robot suit, his potential plan to take over the world in his massive mechanical armour is not such a secret after all. If it’s not the ominous robot suit, then it’s his ability to manipulate bank accounts. Stage a 50-percent-off-all-products on Amazon and he is able to jet off with the entirety of the US GDP — from irrational Amazon customers emptying their life savings in the pursuit of the best offers on the world’s biggest online shopping platform.
Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber
This tech entrepreneur deviously takes the transportation network industry by storm through Uber, an idea sparked by him and his friend to initially “roll around San Francisco like ballers”. While he is probably going to be accountable for the imminent demise of conventional cabbies and taxis, the founder of the now US$86 billion corporation may just be waiting to earn defence contracts to acquire self-driving tanks to set his evil plot in motion.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook
The young self-made billionaire, bestowed with the power of connectivity, could access more than a billion people’s addresses, emails and pictures from all over the world, who willingly conform to his force of creation, Facebook. He only grows more powerful as his army expands by the minute, as they are struck by the fear of missing out on the newsfeed.
Bill Gates, Founder and Former CEO of Microsoft
Gates is guilty of all the deaths of tech companies founded in the 1990s, not to mention Nintendo in the advent of Xbox. Plus, a Windows security update that never ceases would allow Gates to hold the vast majority of the world’s computers hostage. Seemingly, the pioneer of the world’s largest software maker may not be that soft after all.