The Victorian Vision of Disruption Is a Tech Bro Fantasy

The Real Lesson from the Late 1800s Is That Futures Are Best Made Collectively

Are tech bros the new Victorians? I’m sure they wouldn’t think so. In fact, I’m sure they’d be deeply insulted by the notion. The Victorians of our imagination are staid fuddy-duddies—and the captains of Silicon Valley are the cutting edge of the future.

But the Victorians, too, thought of themselves as masters of invention, just as tech bros do now. As we contemplate the role of new technology, and the men who dominate it, in everything from financial markets to climate change, the Victorians offer a cautionary tale and a glimpse …