Disrupting Colonizer Consciousness in Silicon Valley 👾⌫

Illustration by Kaz Palladino/Awkward Affections


  • The devil is in the process. How do we slow down enough to participate in cultural exchange without appropriation and misinterpretation, personal healing without narcissism and disassociation, and collective shifts without fooling ourselves into believing that we are the ones saving the world?
  • History is medicine. How are the psychohistories of colonization connected to savior complex in Silicon Valley? How can investigating the mindsets and legacies of this influential era help us better understand how we got here and avoid repeating the same patterns?
  • Beware of unearned wisdom and power. How do we meet the outbreak of Silicon Valley Savior Virus at the intersection of Silicon Valley and New Age culture? How can we collectively learn from the stumbles of this floundering and potentially dangerous experiment?

“How do we unlearn what we don’t know we know?”

Ashoka Finley

Questioning Popular Narratives & Entrenched Mindsets 🌈🦄

“How do we save ourselves, and how do we save the world?”

The Latin root of humility is humus: the word for Earth. i.e. to be grounded. How can we keep our feet on the ground while stretching our head above the clouds? Is it conscionable to keep reaching while our neighbors are just trying to get above water?
Variations of this prophecy do appear in Hopi, Sioux, Cree and other Native American traditions. Though these sacred stories are frequently appropriated by non-native people via new age social media accounts to support magical ideas and commercial offerings.

“If we ignore the sacred, the mundane will crush us. If we ignore the mundane, the sacred will burn us.” — Jamie Wheal, Recapture The Rapture

The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell. Pop culture’s hero worship (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings and the Marvel Series have become our popular mythologies) instills the idea that there is one person who can save you from whatever you want to be saved from (suffering, emptiness, hell, brokenness, loneliness).
In Moana, a female-bodied heroine is able to transform evil through making contact from a place of compassion. Men are starting to realize that the heroic journey based on one person winning via physical strength or ingenuity is actually not serving them or the collective. Perhaps the new story is about relationship with community and the wider world, and different ways of expressing strength? We need new stories to help us reimagine ourselves, the world and our place in the world differently.
This slide shows basic differences between Western and First Nations perspectives, as presented by University of Alberta professor Cathy Blackstock at the 2014 conference of the National Indian Child Welfare Association.

History for White Conscious Techies 💰⚔

“Official video” of Standing Rock. Native people are still here after genocide, erasure, and treaty violations. #waterislife.

→ The Doctrine of Discovery gave moral and economic authority to Colonization.

→ “The perennial sanctity of life and land was subordinated to secular sacrality of the national state and the transnational market. Thus, capitalism was born.” (Political scientist Adrian Pabst)

For an extraordinary multimedia storytelling of this history that mirrors Saras’s course, I strongly suggest watching the four part HBO series Exterminate All The Brutes, and checking out the accompanying Re-education Materials. It is flabbergasting to realize how much of modern life is influenced by Europeans mistaking military superiority for intellectual and biological superiority, in creating and continuing the project of colonial expansion as sacred work in service of “civilization.” “It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and draw conclusions.” — Sven Lindqvist, author of the book the series is based on.

“Whether we are in the role of “oppressed” or “oppressor” we are all caught in a dehumanizing system that alienates us from our true selves while wounding us psychological, spiritually, and physically.

The pain is different depending on a person’s position in the social structure, but the entire structure is a deep violence against the human condition.

It transforms every person into a grist for a mill designed to extract all value from nature and people, monetize it, and consolidate it in the hands of the few so that they may satisfy the more base and fearful parts of their own selves that they have become trapped in.” — Simon Mont, Identity Beyond Politics

How do we go about the Hero’s Journey to lay down colonizer consciousness inside ourselves?

  • Forces scale. Obsession with growth and speed at all costs.
  • Arrogance and hubris in knowing what is best for others, in drive to modernize, develop, civilize, change and save them
  • Prioritization of mental and scientific ways of knowing
  • Insensitivity to impact on communities and ecologies
  • Lack of accountability to certain stakeholders (workers, communities, environment)
  • Beliefs informed by homogeneous echo chamber
  • Appropriation (claiming authorship for something one is not author of)
  • Hyperindividualism, excused from any social responsibility
  • Names, defines, articulates, narrates
The Uncanny Valley thrives on claims of big impact and promises of relaxed culture. “Disruptive” products, grand mission/vision statements and clever marketing spin become sophisticated sales, recruiting and retention tools, often with little connection to the actual work being done, ultimately causing a wake of destruction in their path of blitz scaling (see Zebras Fix What Unicorns Break). Watch out for Clubhouse

Welcome to Silicon Valley: The Empire Strikes Again!

Back then the emerging technologies were ships, maps, writing, steel swords. Today they are machine learning, big data, behavior design, robotics.

Back then the mindset was conquest of people and planet. Today the mindset is maximize shareholder return at the expense of human and ecological communities.

This is what I was groomed for. This is in my brain, soul, skin and bones.

Christopher Columbus and I. New York City circa 2013. I didn’t think much about the guy then; I had learned he was a hero for discovering America. I thought it would be cool to pose next to him. Looking at this image now, I see a young man naive to history and the water he is swimming in. I probably blacked out that night from drinking and caused harm in several ways.
CEO of OpenAI and the former president of Y Combinator, prestigious startup accelerator. This is the problem. Tweets like this reinforce colonizer consciousness and white supremacy culture. YC is a bastion of techno-chauvinism: the belief of a small group of fairly homogeneous people that they are the best ones to deploy a small set of algorithmic applications to administer human life.

“The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.” — African Proverb

“According to those who work to heal abusers, the point of recognizing the victimization of perpetrators is not to excuse, forgive, or in any way diminish the destructiveness of their actions, but rather to develop an accurate understanding of how oppression works, how it is sustained and recreated over generations, how to end it.

All of us have to grieve for how the culture of domination and exploitation took us over, no matter the color of our skin or how we came to live in this country. We have to grieve all we’ve done since being infected with the colonizer virus.”

Systems thinking is a way of approaching problems that asks how various elements within a system influence one another. If we don’t look at and shift the patterns that give rise to certain phenomena, the phenomena will continue.

“How do we decouple exploration from exploitation?” -Bonnitta Roy

Walking a More Life-Honoring Path ☀️

Source: YouthSpeak

No problem can be solved without a deep understanding of the consciousness that created it, AND how that is still operating inside the problem solver.

Let us search inside history and ourselves.

Katty Huertas

“Students deserve an education relevant to the future they will inherit.” (overheard at Ecoversities Summit)

Mark Henson: Wheel of Fortune. The treadmill keeps on turning powered by desire. The rich drink champagne as man chases his dreams, be it the “Origin of the World”, painted by the French artist Gustave Courbet in 1866, the perfect home,riches, fancy cars, food, running till his life blood is drained, becoming the fodder for the next fool. The wheel of fortune rolls on. We can make all our lives richer by stewarding the earth protecting life or be attached by umbilical cord to a life of mindless consumption.
The material in essay is representative of the type of work I am proposing doing with founders. Please fill out this form if you are interested in engaging with or supporting a curriculum like this, or have feedback and ideas to share! See The Path of The Humane Technologist for more background.
Lilla Watson — Murri (Indigenous Australian) visual artist, activist and academic

“It’s particularly critical that those of us who identify as white be able to speak from personal experience about the damage that colonization and whiteness has done to ourselves,

The amazing possibility of wholeness that derives from fully acknowledging our historical role in the creation of white supremacy,

And the deep satisfaction of cross-cultural relationships that can lead to a kind of co-creation my ancestors did not know was possible.” — Sara Wolcott

Jim Chuchu — A visual reminder of the interconnected nature of oppressive ideas and actions which people fall victim to in all parts of the world. Wall mural inspired by the poetry of Jamaican artist and activist Staceyann Chin. Originally painted on the walls of the Nest Collective’s first home in Nairobi.

Softening the Curve 😷

During the Scientific Revolution, coffee and tobacco helped men carry out what they believe to be God’s work. Today, DMT is making us believe we are God. The Q Anon Shaman is a real and scary example of what can happen when white supremacy encounters psychedelics. Tony Hsieh is a real and tragic example of saviorism encountering addiction to ecstatsis.

“I imagine these young, smart and rich people sitting in California, tripping, passing out all in search of the next unicorn, while outside of their windows, real Californian fires burn real California time and time again. They brainstorm about the way to feel more grounded, while watching those same fires on TV or streaming channels, and whilst also not having enough water to shower in.

And then take a step back and think: who are the real rainmakers? That make the actual rain that would perhaps stop fires appearing as often as they do, or would prevent them from becoming that big, and that would continue to supply us all with freshwater (and oxygen). Trees. And trees take time to grow and be able to make rain. The actual physical trees. Not digital ones.”

Technolojesus scene in HBO’s Silicon Valley. Making the world a better place 🙌 Adam Aronovich in Navigating Psychedelic Narcissism highlights how initiatory experiences (typically around an ego death, to purify oneself of selfish goals) historically have been embedded in rich wisdom traditions, supported by ritual and community in order to move through different stages of life. These ceremonial experiences were grounded in a specific narrative related to the whole (interdependence), rather than a self-knowledge or personal healing or corporate competition pursuit in a Brooklyn basement. Embedded in Anglo-Saxon cultural substrate, it’s just as likely that an experience designed to loosen the ego will rebound to enlarge it, resulting in glorification of the self and potential Messianic inflation. Which nearly every spiritual tradition warns and has safeguards against. “Beware of unearned wisdom” famously advised Jung.

Let’s move from ‘if you can measure it you can improve it’ to ‘if you name it you can transform it.’

Susan Basterfield

“If your quest for spiritual enlightenment doesn’t enhance your ability to witness and heal the suffering of your fellow humans, then it’s fake enlightenment.

If your quest for spiritual enlightenment encourages you to imagine that expressing your personal freedom excuses you from caring for the health and well-being of your fellow humans, then it’s fake

If your quest for spiritual enlightenment allows or encourages you to ignore racism, bigotry, plutocracy, misogyny, and LGBTQ-phobia, it’s fake enlightenment.” -Rob Brezsny

“We can accept the world as it is, and reject it, and accept the rejection while rejecting the accepting.”


🍃 How can the patterns of nature and Indigenous values inform more harmonious economic models?

🖊 How can we remember history to serve the needs of our time?

📚 What and how should the next generation of business and technology leaders learn? What should I learn in order to be effective at what I want to do? Who should I build relationships with?

🙏 How can we integrate peak experiences in an ethical and responsible way, that leads to real personal and societal transformation?

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Regenerative Tech | Business | Culture | Life. Co-founder @getsiempo, Digital Wellness Collective, @Wharton Wisdom. www.andrewmurraydunn.com

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