Latest Episode

Ethan ZuckermanOn Why Institutional Failure Can Spur Positive Change

Trust in our institutions is at an all-time low. Mistrust can lead to the spread of misinformation and conspiracy thinking, such as seen in movements like QAnon and anti-vaccination campaigns, but it can also be a force for positive social change.

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Depending who you ask, big tech is either going to save humanity or destroy us. Taylor Owen thinks it’s a little more complicated than that. Join him in conversation with leading thinkers as they make sense of a world transformed by technology.

Taylor Owen is a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and is the Beaverbrook Chair of Media, Ethics and Communications, the director of the Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy, and an associate professor at the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University.

Big Tech is presented by CIGI in association with Antica Productions, and produced by Trevor Hunsberger and Mitchell Stuart.

Seasons 1 and 2 of Big Tech were presented by CIGI and The Logic, and co-hosted by Taylor Owen and David Skok. The first season was produced and edited by Trevor Hunsberger with Kate Rowswell as story producer.

Ethan ZuckermanOn Why Institutional Failure Can Spur Positive Change

Trust in our institutions is at an all-time low. Mistrust can lead to the spread of misinformation and conspiracy thinking, such as seen in movements like QAnon and anti-vaccination campaigns, but it can also be a force for positive social change.

S3E12 /

Naomi KleinOn Entering the Tech Governance Debate

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re starting to see the results of our rapid incorporation of technology into our no-touch pandemic-proofed work, home and education lives.

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Nicole PerlrothOn the Cyber Weapons Arms Race

Nation-states are building arsenals of zero-day exploits and other cyber weapons to stage surveillance, intelligence gathering and military strikes in cyberspace.

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Mutale NkondeOn How Biased Tech Design and Racial Disparity Intersect

Tech entrepreneurs are, predominantly, white males. Because of this, much of our technology has inherent biases that align with those of its creators and disadvantage under-represented groups.

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Rod SimsOn Australia’s New Law to Rebalance Media Power

Australia’s new law seeks to fix a market failure in the journalism industry by requiring Facebook and Google to pay local media outlets and publishers for links to their work.

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Bishop Steven CroftOn Keeping Humanity at the Centre of New Technology

It is important to keep that which makes us human at the centre, both when building and using new technology.

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Lana SwartzOn the Power of Payment Platforms

The events around GameStop’s stock price show how digital platforms can impact our financial systems.

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Joan DonovanOn How Platforms Enabled the Capitol Hill Riot

The January 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, demonstrated how online disinformation, amplification and platform algorithms have real-world impacts.

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Beeban KidronOn Why Children Need a Safer Internet

Online platforms aren’t designed with children in mind. For example, children are unaware of the risks that recommended content, auto-play and nudges bring to their use of the internet. Do digital spaces need strict design and development guidelines for services that will be used by young people?

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Ron DeibertOn Resetting Our Relationship with Technology

The systems that underlie modern technology have gaping vulnerabilities that are being exploited by nations around the globe to maintain power and exert control.

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Heidi J. LarsonOn the Root Causes of Vaccine Hesitancy

COVID-19 vaccines are now being approved and deployed around the world. But will there be a sizable enough segment of the population willing to get them?

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Cory DoctorowOn the True Dangers of Surveillance Capitalism

Where does the tech industries’ power lie? Are they “mind-control” platforms capable of influencing elections through algorithmic muscle, or does their true threat to society lie in market concentration?

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Everybody Cares about Democracy and TechnologyDavid and Taylor Look at the State of Big Tech Governance

The US Judiciary antitrust hearing last month marked a turning point in the way government and society view the big tech companies. The investigation of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, coupled with concerns about pandemic medical misinformation and the upcoming presidential election, means the tech industry is under greater scrutiny than ever before.

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Ellen JorgensenOn Biotech’s Potential and the Complexities of Regulation

Advances in molecular biology, such as the gene-editing technology CRISPR, are enabling rapid developments in gene manipulation and a growing do-it-yourself community of biohackers. Genetic modifications can have global impacts. Who decides if research can proceed?

S2E9 /

Damian CollinsOn Joining Forces to Regulate Big Tech

Individual nations are looking to find solutions to online harms occurring on platforms. The scope of platforms is global, and common issues emerge. Nations can share their knowledge with one another to better address the big tech industry.

S2E8 /

Emily BellOn Journalism in the Age of Social Media

The internet presents great opportunities for journalists to share their reporting, but it has also had negative impacts on the industry. Social media platforms have siphoned ad revenue from newspapers as well as allowed fake news to be shared widely.

S2E7 /

Matt StollerOn Taking on the Tech Goliaths

The tech giants have entrenched themselves in all aspects of the internet. It has become nearly impossible to avoid interacting with one of the big five American tech companies when going online. Do consumers have choice or is it time to break up big tech?

S2E6 /

Maria RessaOn How Social Media Can Destabilize Democracy and Journalism

Journalism’s role in balancing power in democracy is being undermined by the spread of disinformation on social media platforms. By allowing any content to be posted online, regardless of its validity, platforms are enabling autocrats to destabilize democratic institutions.

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Carly KindOn Contact-tracing Apps

A key next step toward restarting the economy following the pandemic is to track the spread of the virus. Public health authorities around the globe are looking at using mobile apps to aid in their efforts.

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Joseph StiglitzOn a Post-COVID-19 Economy

Across many sectors, businesses are suspending operations to stay afloat and weather the storm. Tech firms on the other hand are seeing a rise in their market values. Tech companies were already dominating markets, and this pandemic could contribute to even greater monopolies.

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Douglas RushkoffOn Reclaiming Our Humanity on the Internet

The early vision of the internet has been co-opted by capitalist interests. Rather than being a place for humans to connect, the internet has become another extractive industry for financial gain.

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Angie Drobnic HolanOn the Importance of Fact-checking during a Pandemic

Access to credible information is key to combating a public health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid an outbreak, fact-checking websites are becoming increasingly important.

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Sasha HavlicekOn Mitigating the Spread of Online Extremism

Eliminating online hate speech and extremism can be like a game of cat and mouse. Extremists are constantly adapting their approaches to avoid being caught.

S1E10 /

Mark ScottOn Europe’s New Data Strategy

Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg went to Europe, white paper in hand, outlining how his industry should be regulated. Europe flatly rejected it and announced a new European Data Strategy.

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Ben ScottOn the Internet’s Evolving Role in Politics

The internet is a powerful tool to reach, engage and influence voters and has proven to be a key to victory — for good and bad. This episode looks at how the internet’s role in political campaigning has evolved into the essential tool that it is today.

S1E8 /

Joanna J. BrysonOn Regulating the Software behind Artificial Intelligence

There’s a false narrative surrounding artificial intelligence: that it cannot be defined and therefore cannot be regulated. Regulators must remember that AI still begins with code that is written by humans.

S1E7 /

Anand GiridharadasOn How Taxes — Not Philanthropy — Will Change the World

Tech billionaires are using their immense wealth to shape the future by lobbying in Washington — but also by using their fortunes for philanthropy. In this episode, we look at the important role that taxation plays in limiting the spread of plutocracy.

S1E6 /

James Der DerianOn How Quantum Tech Will Change Our Lives

Quantum computing could simulate solutions to the world’s problems, from climate change to complicated medical issues.

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Katherine MaherOn Tools for Combating Disinformation

The Wikimedia chief executive discusses how her organization fits into the larger media landscape, and the role that platforms should take in moderating hate speech.

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David CarrollOn the Dark Side of Digital Advertising

Online advertising platforms are often presented as a superior tool for reaching new audiences. But David Carroll argues that those platforms aren’t as beneficial as large tech companies let on.

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Kate KlonickOn Facebook’s Oversight Board

Kate Klonick was the lone researcher invited in to observe Facebook’s process for creating a content moderation oversight board.

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Rana ForooharOn How Tech Lost Its Way

Large tech companies are in a position to impact many facets of society. Their actions, if left unchecked, could be disastrous to the global economy.

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