Taylor reflects on six themes that emerged this season in conversations about big tech’s transformation of our economy, society and lives.
The US First Amendment protects free speech, but how does that protection extend to online content moderation?
China has created a technology-driven Orwellian surveillance state, where AI pre-crime systems and social credit scores can decide your fate.
Western nations often paint the Chinese tech sector as a threat to freedom, an attack on surveillance and an extension of the state. Big Tech’s guest in this episode, Hong Shen, argues this simplistic framing isn’t quite accurate.
If we consider the history of the US news industry, it’s clear that journalism has never fully achieved its potential. Now that the traditional model is faced with a complete market failure, it’s time to rethink the business of journalism.
The Indian government has imposed new “IT rules” that compel platforms to give the state unprecedented access to and control over user content.
AI development has been met with questions about its many impacts on our world. Maybe we should consider if it’s worth developing at all?
Using the vast volumes of publicly available data from videos, satellite imagery and social media posts, online open-source investigators are able to verify or debunk state-led propaganda and expose atrocities.
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.
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.
Nation-states are building arsenals of zero-day exploits and other cyber weapons to stage surveillance, intelligence gathering and military strikes in cyberspace.
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.
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.
It is important to keep that which makes us human at the centre, both when building and using new technology.
The events around GameStop’s stock price show how digital platforms can impact our financial systems.
The January 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, demonstrated how online disinformation, amplification and platform algorithms have real-world impacts.
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?
The systems that underlie modern technology have gaping vulnerabilities that are being exploited by nations around the globe to maintain power and exert control.
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?
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?
Everybody Cares about Democracy and Technology
David 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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Quantum computing could simulate solutions to the world’s problems, from climate change to complicated medical issues.
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.
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.
Kate Klonick was the lone researcher invited in to observe Facebook’s process for creating a content moderation oversight board.
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.
About the Podcast
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.
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.