Note — Mar 10, 2019

The Left Needs to Get Radical on Big Tech – Moderate Solutions Won’t Cut It

Seen in → No.70

Source → theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/27/le...

This is possibly my last Morozov piece for a while, since he tends to frame things in an interesting way and point to something promising but steers clear of actual suggestions of how to get there. I’m including it anyway because I find his “economism” and “technocracy” groupings useful and, although sparse on details as I mentioned, the citizen angle which “questions the adequacy of treating data and artificial intelligence as commodities rather than as collectively produced and socially useful resources” seems like a correct path and something that lines up well with smart citizen visions, as in Barcelona and elsewhere.

[Economism,] However disruptive it might seem, this is an extremely conservative approach, leaving everything as it is, but now, also, shuffling some money to consumers while giving the tech companies carte blanche to take over the rest of society. […]

[Technocracy] seek solace in a centralized, rigid and heavily bureaucratic model invented and originally deployed a hundred years ago. It’s probably true that 10 smaller Facebooks would be less damaging than the Facebook of today. This, however, is no political program. […]

They do not start by assuming that market competition is always the right answer. Instead, they revise the question itself, moving away from redressing the ills of big tech and towards asking what sort of arrangements and institutions might underwrite a more progressive digital future.”

They might even invent new services, of both commercial and non-commercial variety, that are currently hard to imagine because access to the key resources of the digital economy – data, identity, artificial intelligence – is tightly controlled. [But how??]