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The People Vs Tech: How the Internet Is Killing Democracy (and How We Save It)

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The internet was meant to set us free.Tech has radically changed the way we live our lives. But have we unwittingly handed too much away to shadowy powers behind a wall of code, all manipulated by a handful of Silicon Valley utopians, ad men, and venture capitalists? And, in light of recent data breach scandals around companies like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, what d The internet was meant to set us free.Tech has radically changed the way we live our lives. But have we unwittingly handed too much away to shadowy powers behind a wall of code, all manipulated by a handful of Silicon Valley utopians, ad men, and venture capitalists? And, in light of recent data breach scandals around companies like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, what does that mean for democracy, our delicately balanced system of government that was created long before big data, total information and artificial intelligence? In this urgent polemic, Jamie Bartlett argues that through our unquestioning embrace of big tech, the building blocks of democracy are slowly being removed. The middle class is being eroded, sovereign authority and civil society is weakened, and we citizens are losing our critical faculties, maybe even our free will.The People Vs Tech is an enthralling account of how our fragile political system is being threatened by the digital revolution. Bartlett explains that by upholding six key pillars of democracy, we can save it before it is too late. We need to become active citizens; uphold a shared democratic culture; protect free elections; promote equality; safeguard competitive and civic freedoms; and trust in a sovereign authority. This essential book shows that the stakes couldn’t be higher and that, unless we radically alter our course, democracy will join feudalism, supreme monarchies and communism as just another political experiment that quietly disappeared.


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The internet was meant to set us free.Tech has radically changed the way we live our lives. But have we unwittingly handed too much away to shadowy powers behind a wall of code, all manipulated by a handful of Silicon Valley utopians, ad men, and venture capitalists? And, in light of recent data breach scandals around companies like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, what d The internet was meant to set us free.Tech has radically changed the way we live our lives. But have we unwittingly handed too much away to shadowy powers behind a wall of code, all manipulated by a handful of Silicon Valley utopians, ad men, and venture capitalists? And, in light of recent data breach scandals around companies like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, what does that mean for democracy, our delicately balanced system of government that was created long before big data, total information and artificial intelligence? In this urgent polemic, Jamie Bartlett argues that through our unquestioning embrace of big tech, the building blocks of democracy are slowly being removed. The middle class is being eroded, sovereign authority and civil society is weakened, and we citizens are losing our critical faculties, maybe even our free will.The People Vs Tech is an enthralling account of how our fragile political system is being threatened by the digital revolution. Bartlett explains that by upholding six key pillars of democracy, we can save it before it is too late. We need to become active citizens; uphold a shared democratic culture; protect free elections; promote equality; safeguard competitive and civic freedoms; and trust in a sovereign authority. This essential book shows that the stakes couldn’t be higher and that, unless we radically alter our course, democracy will join feudalism, supreme monarchies and communism as just another political experiment that quietly disappeared.

30 review for The People Vs Tech: How the Internet Is Killing Democracy (and How We Save It)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    Smart, concise, unbiased summary of the ways the internet and associated technology are affecting democracy, and how governments, companies and individuals might respond to and/or counter them. Read The People Vs Tech if you're concerned about the effect Twitter politics is having on elections, or how society will fare when robots and AIs are doing all the unskilled jobs, or how you can protect yourself from the endless amounts of personal data being collected by internet behemoths like Facebook Smart, concise, unbiased summary of the ways the internet and associated technology are affecting democracy, and how governments, companies and individuals might respond to and/or counter them. Read The People Vs Tech if you're concerned about the effect Twitter politics is having on elections, or how society will fare when robots and AIs are doing all the unskilled jobs, or how you can protect yourself from the endless amounts of personal data being collected by internet behemoths like Facebook. This is a quick read – like a condensed version of one of Bartlett's previous books, with stories about specific people within specific scenes/organisations (Silicon Valley start-ups, Cambridge Analytica, the crypto-anarchist movement, and so on) to keep it engaging. The list of recommendations at the end ('20 ideas to save democracy') is, frankly, reasonable advice for staying sane, never mind maintaining a balanced view of political issues. TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I reflexively compare books with other books, which is probably impossible to avoid but can lead to unfair assumptions. My initial experience of ‘The People vs Tech’ (which I found while browsing in the library) was that it made the same points as The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power just more superficially. When I got further in, however, I realised that the aims of two books are different and they are complements rather than substitutes. I reflexively compare books with other books, which is probably impossible to avoid but can lead to unfair assumptions. My initial experience of ‘The People vs Tech’ (which I found while browsing in the library) was that it made the same points as The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power just more superficially. When I got further in, however, I realised that the aims of two books are different and they are complements rather than substitutes. Bartlett doesn't really go into how the current tech oligopoly happened; Zuboff describes this in depth. He is instead interested in its implications for politics, democracy, inequality, and social cohesion. ‘The People vs Tech’ succinctly explains the unintended destructive socioeconomic consequences of surveillance capitalism and suggests means of mitigating them. It’s a clearly written and thought-provoking read, drawing on the author’s interviews with Silicon Valley luminaries. There is no veil of passive-voice objectivity, as Bartlett interjects his own experiences as illustrations, for example: Before the 2015 UK general election, my think tank Demos helped design the methodology for a similar app called Verto. We all thought it was a brilliant idea at the time - I told everyone it would help voters understand where the political parties stood on different issues. I have now gone full circle and believe they provide short term convenience at the expense of undermining our long-term critical faculties. We should ditch them all. If you’re going to use an app, why not hand your vote over to an algorithm entirely? A core concern of the book is people letting democracy slip away by allowing moral and political decision-making to be delegated to machines and therefore, by extension, to whoever designs and owns the machines. As we allow machines to make our choices, we may forget how to make them. The argument that social media undermines actively engaged citizenship is a controversial one, yet undoubtedly has plausibility. Social media has surely increased adversarial rage in political culture, thanks to its attention-monopolising design. Barlett terms this increased tribalism, which he links with identity politics and considers to be undermining solidarity. This also seems plausible, although I think it would be much less effective if we lived in a more equal and less unjust world. Unfortunately surveillance capitalism both increases inequality and fragments opposition to itself. I wonder about the dynamic between individualism and tribalism in the current social context, which I find difficult to understand. So-called identity politics contains elements of both, as well as the legacy of past struggles for fair treatment. Big tech seems to amplify regressive and reactionary content at least as much if not more so than progressive. It seems like the internet allowed disadvantaged minorities to develop support networks, then subsequently social media catalysed a form of populist politics based on fear and hostility to said minorities. The internet did not need to develop into its current monopolistic, attention-hungry, surveillance-based form and could still move beyond that. I don’t know how, although Barlett has some broad suggestions. He also has a knack for condensing critical points neatly, for example: Newspapers have always traded in outrage and sensationalism, because they’ve long known what algorithms have recently discovered about our predilections. However, the difference is that newspapers are legally responsible for what they print, and citizens generally understand the editorial positions of various outlets. Algorithms, however, give the impression of being neutral and can’t be held to account - even though the Youtube algorithm alone shapes what 1.5 billion users are likely to see. It is scale, speed, and lack of accountability that make big tech novel. Tech firms claim to be so very innovative, but humans have been communicating via words and pictures for thousands of years. This point was also particularly well made: Instead of sending out a mass advert to millions, campaigns can now target a specific set of voters, each with specific promises and pledges, based on what they already care about. This is a radical change with far-reaching consequences. It is important that everyone receives the same message - or at least knows what others are receiving. That’s how we are able to thrash out the issues of the day. If everyone receives personalised messages, there is no common public debate - just millions of private ones. In addition to narrowing the scope of political debate (research suggests that candidates are more likely to campaign on polarising issues when the forum is not public), this will diminish political accountability. [...] But the more politics becomes a question of smart analysis and nudges rather than argument, the further power will shift away from those with good ideas and towards those with good data and lots of money. Three other major themes are the effects of automation on work, of tech oligopoly on inequality, and of cryptocurrency on the social contract. They’re all covered succinctly and raise a lot of interesting points worth further thought. One often overlooked issue with automation is the fact it is happening so rapidly for cost (profit) reasons and AI will, initially at least, often be worse at tasks than humans. My brief forays into machine learning taught me that learning machines make plenty of mistakes, just different mistakes to humans. Mistakes that unscrupulous humans could exploit (e.g. adversarial examples), or that could cause greater disasters than human error. Throwing more data at a problem isn’t necessarily sufficient. The chapter on crypto-anarchy covers some of the contradictions within cryptocurrency and its libertarian roots. The outrageous energy demands of bitcoin mining aren’t really mentioned and are truly horrifying. This tweet makes a good analogy: ‘Imagine if keeping your car idling 24/7 produced solved sudokus you could trade for heroin.’ Bartlett also makes clear that the crypto anarchists have no interest in making the world better for anyone but the 1%. After such a depressing foray into the damage tech is doing, Barlett ambitiously ends with twenty suggestions to make things better and, hopefully, save democracy. The refreshingly thorough list includes more progressive taxation, unionisation of the gig economy, monitoring bot activity on social media, enforced transparency of algorithms, and improved election campaign laws. Very few of the suggestions are actions individuals can take, as clearly government intervention is needed at national and international levels. While these seem far from implementation at the moment, and UK democracy is clearly under threat when Boris Johnson can prorogue parliament to force through no-deal brexit, they provide a useful set of suggestions. When faced with tech inevitabilism, a practical list of policy changes to campaign for is encouraging in itself. Ultimately, technology should be our tool rather than our deity and an algorithm’s decisions should be held as carefully to the law as those of any other company employee.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kester Ratcliff

    A friend sent this to me because she knows I'm seriously interested in the topic. I'm only halfway through now but I'm finding it so frustrating I don't think I can finish it - it's technologically and philosophically so superficial, I think the only thing I've learned so far is I should read some McLuhan, he drags out simple points for pages of padding, there are some assumptions which are just plain false and actually contradict the evidence he collects later, but he didn't seem to notice, and A friend sent this to me because she knows I'm seriously interested in the topic. I'm only halfway through now but I'm finding it so frustrating I don't think I can finish it - it's technologically and philosophically so superficial, I think the only thing I've learned so far is I should read some McLuhan, he drags out simple points for pages of padding, there are some assumptions which are just plain false and actually contradict the evidence he collects later, but he didn't seem to notice, and he doesn't seem to have any familiarity with the basic principles of programming, so he says silly things like "mysterious" algorithms rather than just explaining basically how Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm works, three main categories of factors, and mention that they introduced machine learning on top of the old basic structures of EdgeRank.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Apar Gupta

    “the invention of ‘barbed wire’ meant that huge swathes of land could be enclosed. Roaming buffalo were doomed, which in turn destroyed the Native American way of life (understandably, they nicknamed barbed wire ‘the devil’s rope’)” The self-help section in bookstores was one which though one of the most popular was also derided to an extent. It signified not only a sign of inadequacy in a reader, but quite often the writing was the subject of literary criticism. With direct and straightforward t “the invention of ‘barbed wire’ meant that huge swathes of land could be enclosed. Roaming buffalo were doomed, which in turn destroyed the Native American way of life (understandably, they nicknamed barbed wire ‘the devil’s rope’)” The self-help section in bookstores was one which though one of the most popular was also derided to an extent. It signified not only a sign of inadequacy in a reader, but quite often the writing was the subject of literary criticism. With direct and straightforward titles such as, "Rich dad, poor dad", "How to win friends and influence people", "Who moved my cheese", to many they over promised and under delivered. While this may be a condition of any popular writing which finds itself in the crosshairs of experts, self-help was a marked target as many of the books sprouted pop-psychology and drew liberally from distinct disciplines to prey on the insecurities of their readers. As bookstores themselves become relics, the self-help section has moved online to various e-commerce stores, most notably Amazon, which is a quasi-monopoly. Due to its deep discounts, incredible efficiency and user experience the brick and mortar bookstore is an increasing rarity. This same pattern is visible in broad sectors of the economy and social interaction where technology is replacing existing systems. While celebrated by many, as a process of, "creative destruction", or the much more innocuous and common coinage, "disruption", this comes at a price. Quite often this is much more than merely changing the way things work, to even how people behave. This is more appropriately arising from the increasing on concerns how massive amounts of personal data and information is harvested, analysed and then distinct profiles are made for individuals sold to data brokers and marketers. While much of this was in the domain of theory (given the lack of oversight or transparency in such practices) and expert commentary, this has become a mainstream, popular concern. Weekly reports emerge of how elections can be, "hijacked" and voters can be influenced by technology. Much of this arises from a growing social panic over the election of Donald Trump and the recent disclosures of Cambridge Analytica which are a sub-text to much of the general commentary on technology and society. This is giving rise to a bulging genre of, "techno-pessimism". But at such points, it is necessary to deepen our understanding rather than becoming reactionary or worse keep treading within the boundaries of our pre-existing knowledge. While some of it's growing girth is a counter-blast from the earlier years of uncritical commentary that hailed technology as a social saviour, there is a growing need for rigour, balance and nuance. To me, personally, this is the test which will define the enduring value of a book, if it has to break beyond its utility of a contemporary commentary or serving as a brief introduction to the issues and concerns at play. In this respect, Jamie Barlett's, "The People v. Tech", presents only a modest advance in the understanding of the issues which may be gleaned from the web pages of magazines such as Ars Technica or Wired. This is not to say, the book is not engaging, but where it fails is in its ability to present a coherent theory or framework to understanding the nature of present democratic processes and just how technology upends them. This fault leads to the author proposing a solution set which is symptomatic. A book review depends on the book but more importantly the reader. Over the past three years, I have read dozens of books on technology, society and law. They draw from diverse disciplines or having sustained rigour in their argument. Some examples of books which score highly are Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows" or Virginia Eubanks, Automating Inequality. Both of these books are critical, deeply critical of technology. What they do, and they do well is plumb into the depths of a central problem that they describe, and hence consequentially the solutions which they posit did not seem only facially plausible -- but built off rigour. While a general audience will enjoy, "The People v. Tech", they will get a much-needed insight and general understanding on threats to civic participation and democracy; but experts will not find it useful. It may be to their fault, for many hold an aspiration that writing in the genre of, "techno-pessimism" goes well beyond a melange of anecdotes.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Radhika Roy

    So, it’s been a while since I re-read a book. I guess in my zeal to finish more books, I was always hesitant about reading an already finished book. But, I’m glad I did this because I’ve realised one major thing: when you re-read a book after a considerable amount of time, it’s never the same book that you go back to. Your perception of what you’re reading changes drastically because it’s not the same person who is reading that book ! So, while I was completely enamoured by what Bartlett had wri So, it’s been a while since I re-read a book. I guess in my zeal to finish more books, I was always hesitant about reading an already finished book. But, I’m glad I did this because I’ve realised one major thing: when you re-read a book after a considerable amount of time, it’s never the same book that you go back to. Your perception of what you’re reading changes drastically because it’s not the same person who is reading that book ! So, while I was completely enamoured by what Bartlett had written the first time around, this time, I almost sensed some form of paranoia in his writing. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but instead of blindly agreeing with wide-eyes, I could critically analyse the pros and cons of his submissions without being in awe. Coming to the book, I still maintain that it’s one of the most interesting pieces of writing I’ve come across in a while. It’s full of anecdotes that spark your curiosity and the language is simple enough to not feel heavy on your brain. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The People v. Tech is Bartlett’s attempt to underline the dangers of an overtly technologically-forward society and it’s implications on the tenets of democracy. He lists down the pillars of democracy (such as an individual’s ability to make choices of his own with regards to electing a leader), and presents to us the ways advancement in technology is chipping away at these pillars slowly and steadily. He doesn’t necessarily advocate completely doing away with technology and living an Amish way of life, but he does try to warn his readers that giving in to the ease with which AI helps us lead our lives, will only perpetuate the loss of free will, to the point that those who control the data will control the people. Bartlett also brings to us the idea that politics will no longer have any bearing on how we navigate through society. It will be the Big Tech firms which will have absolute control over us, and the issue here lies in the fact that most of these firms are governed by rich white men. While Bartlett’s concerns are very pertinent, and at times I have been gripped with fear about how our future would look like with these advances, I feel he’s bordering on paranoia at this point. The Internet has become so intertwined with how one functions, that it is almost irrational for one to suggest keeping away from it. It’s like expecting one to not use tools that were developed in the Stone Age. He does mention 20 ways one can fend off the evils of tech, but I genuinely feel that we’re already way too deep into this to get out. Additionally, while talking of dystopias, his own beliefs regarding expecting governments to regulate tech in a manner that could be beneficial to its citizens, is highly idealistic and utopian. He has completely forgone the aspect of power dynamics in such situations, and in doing so, it almost feels like he gave those suggestions, just for the sake of it. Specially after his entire tirade on how tech at the root of state authority’s destruction. He does have one extremely important point though - Democracy needs to tailor itself to the changes in society, or otherwise it will be at the risk of making way for authoritarian governments. We can already see that happening with the rise of RW leaders in many countries. Anyway, like I said, I enjoyed reading it. Like Antonia Garcia Martinez says, I have hope too. But, it’s still too early to shack up on an island, to fend off the dangers of tech.

  6. 4 out of 5

    11811 (Eleven)

    The future was awesome in the 80's. Flying cars, robot maids. Pure utopia. Then they came out with this whole internet thing and the world got darker. Bartlett throws in some optimism near the end of this book but I'm not sold on that part. I'm still fixated on the pre-optimism analysis. The text begs for highlights. I'll stick with a single quote- "Facebook’s first President, recently called the ‘like’ button ‘a social-validation feedback loop." Please like my review and validate me. The future was awesome in the 80's. Flying cars, robot maids. Pure utopia. Then they came out with this whole internet thing and the world got darker. Bartlett throws in some optimism near the end of this book but I'm not sold on that part. I'm still fixated on the pre-optimism analysis. The text begs for highlights. I'll stick with a single quote- "Facebook’s first President, recently called the ‘like’ button ‘a social-validation feedback loop." Please like my review and validate me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tucker

    When I heard about the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, I didn't understand why it was so shocking to many people. Of course online "quizzes" are prompting us to cough up valuable personal data under the guise of entertainment, even if we don't consent or can't consent on behalf of other people — why not? Of course advertisers use this data to show us targeted ads, even political ads — why not? We may think it's unethical, but that it happens and that it is inevitable isn't surprising. Afte When I heard about the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, I didn't understand why it was so shocking to many people. Of course online "quizzes" are prompting us to cough up valuable personal data under the guise of entertainment, even if we don't consent or can't consent on behalf of other people — why not? Of course advertisers use this data to show us targeted ads, even political ads — why not? We may think it's unethical, but that it happens and that it is inevitable isn't surprising. After all, in 2012, as Jamie Bartlett recalls in this book, Obama’s campaign worked with Google to rank 30 categories of voters on their “persuadability.” “Liberals were apparently extremely comfortable with the idea when it was their guy doing it. That was a mistake.” In 2016, with the help of Cambridge Analytica, Republicans were able to identify and invest attention in, for example, people who "hadn’t voted for years" and "had recently bought a Ford" (since "a preference for cars made in the US was a strong indication of a potential Trump voter"). And in the next few years? He predicts that household smart devices will know that on weekday evenings you come home hungry, angry, and ready to absorb ads for politicians who are tough on crime. Bartlett explains the problems with this direction that democracy is taking. These analyses were new and persuasive to me. He believes that the current power of tech monopolies is "completely and utterly insane" and urges us to draw "a firm distinction...between ethical and unethical persuasion. The attention economy [i.e. an economy based on exploiting others' attention] must be replaced with an economy of human value." (It reminds me of what Matthew B. Crawford said in Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work: "If occasions for the exercise of judgment are diminished, the moral-cognitive virtue of attentiveness will atrophy.") Bartlett's solutions require both individual and institutional responsibility. Whether our society can enact such disaster mitigations, I still don't know, but as a result of reading this book, I can better see the downhill spiral. One major problem with showing people more of whatever they already click on is, well, "what if anti-Semites are targeted with increasingly personalised virulent content?" The US FTC “once declared subliminal messaging to be ‘contrary to the public interest’ in spite of there being zero evidence of it ever influencing anyone,” yet this concern seems to have dissipated, as today machines are “running on constant, self-improving feedback loops” of who-knows-what algorithms whose own developers probably could no longer explain them to you. The result is that our political polarization is increasing; we are seeing "re-tribalisation," to use his word. Tech companies have “inadvertently let tribalism back out of the cage that modern representative democracy built for it.…total connection and information overload offers up an infinite array of possible political options," and thus we fragment into "ever-smaller units of like-minded people.” Public debate vanishes. If candidates tailor their political message to small groups, it's hard for them to be held accountable. He is skeptical that “connectivity, networks, platforms and data” will lead to utopia. Daily life, he says, is “slow, deliberative and grounded in the physical,” and therefore democracy needs to be, too. In the 2012 election, Facebook determined that users who saw their “friends” post about having voted “were themselves slightly more likely to vote as a result — so much so, in fact, that Facebook may have increased turnout by 340,000 people.” Using a little voluntary peer pressure to increase voter turnout doesn't seem like a problem, but Bartlett's point is that the use of social media (rather than, for example, a personal phone call or reading and discussing op-eds) speeds up the decision-making process and cheapens the quality of thought we put into our decisions. Reacting to "I voted" stickers online is one more way in which voting itself is brought closer to something we can do at home with the press of a button. Bartlett does not object to the convenience of online voting but to the degradation of critical thinking that likely results when democratic participation is simplified and sped up. Demos, Bartlett’s think tank, worked on the Verto app that was supposed to “help voters understand where the political parties stood on different issues” in the 2015 UK election. He says he’s changed his mind and now believes that these apps “provide short-term convenience at the expense of undermining our long-term critical faculties. We should ditch them all. If you’re going to use an app, why not just hand your vote over to an algorithm entirely? Voters are notoriously bad at knowing even their own preferences.” He notes that the iSideWith app is currently popular in Britain and has been consulted by five million people who want to know how they should vote. Our admission that AI achieves “better data-driven, practical decisions" than we do "would have profound implications for the nature of political and moral authority that we can barely imagine.” Well, yes, but we cannot run away from those implications if in fact the AI really is smarter than we are. This is just saying that the future is unimaginable and our second-millennium theories might be useless in the third millennium. Leveraging the idea of the technological singularity, he coins the term “‘moral singularity’ — the point at which we will start to delegate substantial moral and political reasoning to machines.” He doesn’t explain it quite this way, but, with any kind of delegation, to fully delegate is to abdicate responsibility for the outcome. For moral delegation, this results in a paradox. The only moral reason to delegate a moral decision to a machine is because you think the machine is better equipped to make the morally right decision. In that judgment, you still retain some of your own moral agency because at least you are judging who is the expert on the relevant considerations and how you should behave (including whether you should delegate) to yield the best outcome for everyone. At a certain point, however, you might delegate these decisions without being able to justify exactly why you think the machine is more skilled, and that is a moral abdication. With technology that is integrated into everyday life, it won't be just one or two decisions, it will be thousands of small decisions. We may no longer see ourselves as moral agents, and there will be no reason to go back to the old days when we had to do that kind of cognitive labor, do it poorly, cause avoidable harm to others, and bear responsibility for the results. It might be immoral for us to insist on making our own moral decisions when it's clear that machines can make them better. But once machines are already doing most of it, we will be so morally atrophied that it may not make sense anymore to refer to our delegation (or lack thereof) as moral or immoral. Human morality would become a muscle that isn't flexed and becomes obsolete. Or, as Bartlett puts it: "What would be the moral case for humans to make significant decisions if there was another, superior, system? And what then would a democracy be, except an inefficient way to make consistently bad choices?" For all these reasons, he says, the US wound up with Trump in 2016: "The latest iteration, and the first bona fide politician of the social media age, is Twitter addict and world-class simplifier Donald Trump. … Trump is the strong man, the tribal leader who trades on outrage. He offers swift, immediate and total answers: it’s the fault of the bureaucrats, the politically correct media, judges and immigrants. He promises to deliver the people quickly and completely from the complexities of the world. And above all, he offers a sense of tribal belonging in a digital world characterised by confusion, uncertainty and information overload. He represents all the problems described in the last few pages, in human form."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Don Mario

    (versione italiana sotto) The Social Dilemma, the docufilm that went viral in the recent past, seems inspired by this book, but only touches very few of the many issues presented here. By examining six pillars of modern democracies, the author shows how the evolution of technology affects each of them, sometimes with very menacing posible evolutions. The thesis is that the natural evolution of technology leads to the destruction of democracy. It's not because technology is bad in itself but becaus (versione italiana sotto) The Social Dilemma, the docufilm that went viral in the recent past, seems inspired by this book, but only touches very few of the many issues presented here. By examining six pillars of modern democracies, the author shows how the evolution of technology affects each of them, sometimes with very menacing posible evolutions. The thesis is that the natural evolution of technology leads to the destruction of democracy. It's not because technology is bad in itself but because it needs a guidance that is not happening at the moment. Il documentario, virale nei mesi scorsi, The Social Dilemma tocca solo uno dei molti problemi evidenziati in questo libro. L'autore propone sei "pilastri" su cui si poggia la democrazia, per mostrare come ciascuno di essi è fortemente condizionato e non di rado minacciato dallo sviluppo della tecnologia. La posizione dell'autore non è luddistica. Vede grandi potenzialità positive, ma richiama all'esigenza che ci sia un impegno perché queste si sviluppino mentre le minacce vengano contrastate. Altrimenti la tecnologia potrebbe segnare la fine della democrazia e senza nemmeno bisogno di un complotto che spinga in tal senso.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Babak Fakhamzadeh

    Bartlett is not too controversial in saying that tech and democracy are at odds with each other, but he sums up the challenges well, and gives a useful list of things we need to change. Modern tech has empowered, but also undermines democratic principles by not being governed or being governable by individual jurisdictions. Bartlett sees six fundamental pillars of democracy. These are: + An active citizinry. + A shared culture, which includes the spirit of compromise. + Free elections. + Stakeholder e Bartlett is not too controversial in saying that tech and democracy are at odds with each other, but he sums up the challenges well, and gives a useful list of things we need to change. Modern tech has empowered, but also undermines democratic principles by not being governed or being governable by individual jurisdictions. Bartlett sees six fundamental pillars of democracy. These are: + An active citizinry. + A shared culture, which includes the spirit of compromise. + Free elections. + Stakeholder equality, including a sizeable middle class. + A competitive economy and civic freedom. + Trust in an authority that is accountable and enforces the people's will. Bartlett specifically argues that... The giant advertising panopticon we live in, keeps us addicted to devices, provides endless distraction through manipulation, and is slowly diminishing free choice and anonymity. Specifically, we are prevented from maturing politically by having our decisions made for us, with the tools manipulating us, while we have to question whether we remain being able to actually make moral decisions at all, as, through self censorship, we lose the opportunity to make mistakes and, through that, learn. While using these tools is tempting, as, with a utilitarian view and lots of data, an algorithm could calculate the action with the most positive consequence. Perpetual connectivity, via suggestions and filter bubbles, leads to emotional tribal politics, favoring loyalty to the group and anger, outranking reason and compromise, paving the way for populist politicians and, eventually, totalitarianism. Data analytics influences elections in ways we can not understand for it's complexity, allowing for rich and/or powerful groups to cement themselves into a position of strength. (Here, Bartlett states that both Google and Facebook seconded employees to work at Cambridge Analytics, embedded with the Trump campaign in 2016. And, the person he interviewed at the Trump campaign admitting she wrote most of Trump's Twitter updates during the presidential election campaign.) Individual political targeting switches the general debate to hyper localized ones that are practically impossible to unite and diminish accountability for their lack of transparency. Here, Bartlett makes the excellent observation that "There is a chilling prospect that whoever owns the data also owns the future" The AI, or robot, revolution has the potential to wipe out the middle class and create a 'barbell' economy, detrimental to democracy in general, in part through the diminishing tax base this creates. The monopoly of large tech companies are monopolies that own the platform for exchanging ideas, preventing the practice of free association by controlling the platform outside of accountability processes while amassing vast amounts of power. As a perhaps surprisingly corollary, tech giants facilitating 'grassroots' activism in their own interest results in civil society becoming arranged around platforms and abstractions rather than alert citizens practiced in locally rooted action. "Total victory for the monopoly is not over economics or politics, it's over assumptions, ideas and possible futures. Because when that happens, big tech won't need to lobby or buy out competitors. They will have so insinuated themselves in our lives and minds, that we won't be able to imagine a world without them." The rise of crypto anarchy, the use of cryptography to exclude preying eyes, also excludes the state and thus undermines state control to the point of collapse. All this means that the question is whether we will turn to more authoritarian systems and leaders to maintain control over society, slowly destroying democracy under the pretense of saving it. Bartlett proposes 20 ideas to save democracy, grouped around the pillars of democracy:: Alert, independent minded citizens invested with moral authority. + own your opinion + fight distraction + replace the attention economy with an economy of human value A democratic culture with a commonly agreed reality and a spirit of compromise. + smash your echo chamber + teach critical thinking + police the algorithms + break the ad model Elections that are free, fair, and command public trust. + update election campaign laws + celebrate election day + monitor bot behaviour Manageable levels of equality, and a vibrant middle class with a shared investment in society. + spread the wealth to maintain the middle class + tax the robots + a social safety net that favors education and training + stronger workers' rights A competitive economy and an independent civil society. + pay for your online services + more comprehensive anti trust laws + regulate AI A sovereign authority that can enforce the people's will, but remains accountable to them. + more government policing powers coupled with more transparency + regulate Bitcoin + carefully use new technologies in state owned processes In the end, Bartlett is clear that, for society to change, the people, you and I, need to change. And that, of course, is the biggest single challenge.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ribhav Pande

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. An important book, which flags-off the unseen dangers that tech poses to the world. The author has deliberately made the title and tone of the book extreme, and that's understandable because he's appalled at the lack of interest in the general public about the dangers that lie ahead. The book is seeks to shake the reader from their complacency. It does succeed. This was an engaging read for the first half, because it dealt with the present (with general indications of where things were heading). An important book, which flags-off the unseen dangers that tech poses to the world. The author has deliberately made the title and tone of the book extreme, and that's understandable because he's appalled at the lack of interest in the general public about the dangers that lie ahead. The book is seeks to shake the reader from their complacency. It does succeed. This was an engaging read for the first half, because it dealt with the present (with general indications of where things were heading). The second half of the book delves into much more theoretical aspects plenty of years into the future, and the author himself admits to not knowing how the future will be shaped. It ended with 20 suggestions on how to save democracy, which honestly would be a quicker way to cover the second half of the book. The first part, however, is fantastic. It really made me re-look at what my own social media habits entailed. I'm sharing the following ideas that made an impression on me: - Is our political maturity stunted online where we're too conscious of making mistakes and being 'cancelled', not being allowed to learn from them? Ref. to Jeremy Bentham's 'panopticon' was very interesting. - Will tech take our at-times inconvenient moral decisions for us in the future? Would they be 'correct'? Forget the future- how dependant are we on tech to aid our decisions presently? Ref. to Jeremy Bentham's 'felicific calculus' was most interesting. The example of 'iSideWith' in aiding Brits make the Brexit decision was an eye-opener. - Is politics heading towards re-tribalization, aided by the mass identity crisis we face in a perpetually connected world with no online borders? The focus of targeted online advertising that seeks to exacerbate fears and promote parochial interests, combined with big data analysis that creates a personality type (psychographic) for each individual, really puts this aspect into focus. Not only ads- Facebook's LookAlike Audiences and even YouTube video recommendations. Think confirmation bias. The explanation of the Trump campaign’s success in this regard was most concerning. - Is tech engaging us more instinctively/emotionally at the cost of deliberative/logical thinking? The author says that the former (System One thinking) is triggered over the latter (System Two thinking) and that the system is created to lead to impetuous decision making. - What is the influence of bots and automated software that push narratives and agendas? The interesting concept of flooding genuine hashtags with rubbish to render them irrelevant is discussed. - Are we heading towards a barbell-shaped economy that privileges rich tech giants and leaves the lesser trained middle-class to fend for itself? Crypto-Anarchy is another concept, where softwares with high level encryption and block-chains are intended to create an unregulated system. Both these ideas, as per the author, may some day sound the death-knell of democracy as we know it. From the 'how to save democracy' conclusion, the following stood out: - Smash your echo chambers. - Break the ad model - Bot watch - Extend anti-trust legislation to tech monopolies on data - Regulate bitcoin I've tweeted about how this book is a must-read for anyone using social media. We need to understand how our likes/shares/re-tweets spread ideas in the digital world, and how much of what we engage with is: a) Pushed to our feeds with an agenda and, b) Fed by the creation of an echo-chamber of our own making. This book is a general read, of course. There would be other books making for more detailed reading. But for a citizenry which is barely aware of alarmed by tech's pervasive influence, this book should serve as a shock-value while at the same time being a simple read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dakshin

    An article from The Hindu prompted me to check out this author. (http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/tech... ) His designation as the Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos and a little research on his prior works pulled me further to this particular book. Dark Net & Radicals was equally tempting but I had my reservations about the book’s narration style. I put my questions on hold until I completed reading The Tech vs People before deciding to purchase his earlier works. Af An article from The Hindu prompted me to check out this author. (http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/tech... ) His designation as the Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos and a little research on his prior works pulled me further to this particular book. Dark Net & Radicals was equally tempting but I had my reservations about the book’s narration style. I put my questions on hold until I completed reading The Tech vs People before deciding to purchase his earlier works. After having read this book, I can unreservedly recommend it for any level of reader, be it naïve or a doyen in the field of politics cum technology. Though Jamie Bartlett over-uses the parenthesis which can slump your speed, based on its frequency and length of content inside the brackets, the content this book conveys to the reader is of paramount importance to understanding how technology is going to shape the next few years in various domains, particularly politics. Another plus point to this book is that the author’s thoughts are well summed up and articulated in a flowing manner that is crisp and not meandering from its objective, bar a few passages that intend to explain bitcoins. The author views his work as an urgent polemic but I would better describe it as an andragogy because it is not full of tirades. Rather, it is a succinct summary for guiding the middle-class, in specific, regarding how democracy’s building blocks are being shrewdly displaced. One step further, there is a particular case study being discussed in one of the chapters about The USA President Trump’s election campaign in 2016 – Project Alamo. This was very engrossing to me as it puts quite explicitly how political decisions can be influenced by bigwigs to swing the vote base. I still also buy the defending idea to this theory that there can be no proof that the social media posts actually resulted in the victory for Trump. However, I’d like to exercise the precautionary principle on this hereafter. Also, I think this is what the author would be hoping from his readership. Jamie concludes this book with 20 solutions with little explanation compared to his initial 6 chapters. This seems a bit deviant from his elucidatory style that was evident in the first 6 chapters. Notwithstanding this, I can understand it is not easy to propose real solutions because of the practical difficulties that come with it. He has proposed the ideas in brief which is good for a start so that every one begins to think in similar lines. Go for this book, with no hesitation, for a short read that is worth enrichment for a long time. I am curious to also explore other works by this author after this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    Completely terrifying.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael Huang

    To function, democracy needs a few pillars: active participation of citizens (debating issues, weighing facts), engage in compromise, equality, free association, free elections, and authority to the elected government. The rise of powerful technologies (social media, big data, AI) is perhaps giving more power to some at the expense of others. The result can undermine democracy. * Social media can expose people to constant public scrutiny, encouraging self-censorship. * Big data/AI driven apps are To function, democracy needs a few pillars: active participation of citizens (debating issues, weighing facts), engage in compromise, equality, free association, free elections, and authority to the elected government. The rise of powerful technologies (social media, big data, AI) is perhaps giving more power to some at the expense of others. The result can undermine democracy. * Social media can expose people to constant public scrutiny, encouraging self-censorship. * Big data/AI driven apps are already encouraging people to outsource judgement in selecting candidates. * It's easier to belong to tribes now and tribalism is increasing. * Data mining already helped powerful entities to influence/manipulate election results. * Reduced demand for certain type of work will further increase inequality and thus power balance. * Tech companies are especially powerful. Using its webpage, Google very quickly helped defeat a law it didn't like. * Encryption and anonymity are increasing private parties' ability to circumvent/undermine government authority. If democracy no longer solves people's problem, it's possible that a techno-authoritarian riding a wave of enthusiasm can get into power. The author contends that democracy has to evolve and adapt. Perhaps the government needs to limit big data, increase oversight on its use in elections, etc.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pavol Hardos

    A nice encapsulation of what is becoming by now a recieved wisdom. The parts where I felt I knew enough felt superficial, sometimes glib and reliant on too few sources to be made so strongly. Nevertheless a useful overview of the thinking and challenges that tech poses to democracy today.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    The internet is great right? It empowers us with instantaneously information, allows us to communicate instantly with anyone anywhere, makes sure we do not become lost in another city, recommends us restaurants and doctors, and allows us to make friends with people who share our esoteric interests or opinions. But according to Bartlett it is also destroying democracy. Bartlett is a journalist and author of books about technology. 1. We are providing so much data to tech firms, they understand us The internet is great right? It empowers us with instantaneously information, allows us to communicate instantly with anyone anywhere, makes sure we do not become lost in another city, recommends us restaurants and doctors, and allows us to make friends with people who share our esoteric interests or opinions. But according to Bartlett it is also destroying democracy. Bartlett is a journalist and author of books about technology. 1. We are providing so much data to tech firms, they understand us too well. They tailor their ads for us. They find the best layout and button colour that we will most likely click by doing experiments every minute on large groups of users. We are fed back news from sources that we already agree with, reinforcing biases and extremism. Furthermore, we can be targeted with propaganda just when we are known to be most vulnerable. AI propagates the programmer’s biases. Worse still, AI can be so good that it can suggest for us great decisions including who to vote for. We will soon lose the capability to think through issues! 2. Global villages are built, forming political tribes who can no longer meet and come to a compromise anymore. We are thus becoming more extreme. Adding trolls controlled by politically motivated entities and fake news factories, and we are in for a difficult period for democracy. Trump understands this. 3. Political ads are now tailored for different groups. Trump’s tweets are not all written by him; some are by Project Alamo. Cambridge Analytics provide voters’ data. Facebook and Google send their staff to help too. Thus a politician can be anything, personalised to the individual voter. 4. AI will drive inequality ever higher. Next time there will be some well paid jobs, but a lot of poorly paid ones. Just like Big Tech companies’ permanent staff and the contracted janitors. Bartlett does not think Universal Basic Income is workable. 5. Tech companies are natural monopolies and can reach millions of people easily, making their control by the state very difficult. 6. Crypto-anarchy: technology exists to undermine the state, such as bitcoin, and the dark net. They are distributed networks working independently of any regulators or government. How to save democracy? 1. Don’t rely too much on Apps for decisions, even Google Map. 2. Switch off the phone sometimes. 3. Demand that tech giants have ethics, and not just to maximise clicks. 4. Read publications that have different viewpoints as ours. 5. Teach critical thinking. Trust but verify. 6. Demand the right of government to spot check on algorithms. 7. Use paid Apps that do not collect your data. Choose ‘fair trade’ companies. 8. Update laws to maintain social media spending transparency. 9. Make election days national holidays. 10. Battle the bots: tech companies and Alliance for Securing Democracy. 11. Big Government: Heavy investment in retraining, emerging industries like biotech and climate change adapting. Public Uber-like apps where profits go to workers. Build driverless network owned and run by government. 12. Tax the robots. 13. Universal Training Income. Free credits for training. 14. Improve workers’ rights. Enforce minimum wage, gig workers protection. 15. Use anti-trust on all the tech monopolies. 16. Control and regulate AI just like nuclear bombs. 17. More budget and power to law enforcement for digital crimes. Citizen involvement in the oversight just like UK. 18. Regulate bitcoin. 19. Government must start using AI for better governance. Use Blockchain technology to allow citizens to track spending of government. It is suddenly hitting me at the end of the book; the Singapore Government has been doing exactly those! But I doubt any other democracy can tolerate this level of involvement.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marc Pressley

    The short answer is to take on more individual responsibility as informed citizens. Which means we're probably doomed. Bartlett paints a fairly bleak portrait of a world that may already be at the mercy of big data and the titans who control it. Although the book is a quick read, there is ample information of interest--especially regarding the role of data in the most recent national elections. The book falls a little short in terms of offering practical solutions, but it offers enough insight to The short answer is to take on more individual responsibility as informed citizens. Which means we're probably doomed. Bartlett paints a fairly bleak portrait of a world that may already be at the mercy of big data and the titans who control it. Although the book is a quick read, there is ample information of interest--especially regarding the role of data in the most recent national elections. The book falls a little short in terms of offering practical solutions, but it offers enough insight to make it worth reading as part of a larger corpus of work on the subject.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tatsuhiro Sato

    A great non biased read providing us with an insight how as an whole the concept of democracy and nations could change and come to an end. The world becoming Utopian or Dystopian in future it all depends on how technology is used and where its ownership reside and whether benefits are transferred to masses or only to the few.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aivaras Žukauskas

    Simple and concise, which at points is to the book's own detriment, but it is hard to deny that this reading is a must to every techno-optimist, or to anyone thinking about the effect recent technological developments may have on politics and societies. Simple and concise, which at points is to the book's own detriment, but it is hard to deny that this reading is a must to every techno-optimist, or to anyone thinking about the effect recent technological developments may have on politics and societies.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sean Flynn

    The things you'd expect to hear, election pr teams reducing humanity to data points, Russian hackers, self driving trucks, the full-steam-ahead attitude if silicon valley, the Luddite versus techie feud, and how blockchain is the holy grail. More of the same, journalistic style, left-bias, but came away with some good points. Quite a journey to get to those points though. I get it, you have to put in a few anecdotal parts to get people interested. But there were far too many divergences from the The things you'd expect to hear, election pr teams reducing humanity to data points, Russian hackers, self driving trucks, the full-steam-ahead attitude if silicon valley, the Luddite versus techie feud, and how blockchain is the holy grail. More of the same, journalistic style, left-bias, but came away with some good points. Quite a journey to get to those points though. I get it, you have to put in a few anecdotal parts to get people interested. But there were far too many divergences from the main point that wouldn't be acceptable at anything other than a fictitious postmodern level. Worth the read I guess, but I'd pick a more technical read next time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tom Davies

    Excellent book, a must-read. I first saw Jamie Bartlett doing an explanatory VT on This Week during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It was one of the best I’ve ever seen and all the guests on the show said the same. The book was in the same style - easy to understand, concise and illuminating. Distilled complicated but important information for rooky readers. The conclusion was one of the best non-fiction chapters I’ve read and paints a scary but foreseeable picture of ‘techno-authoritarianism’ Excellent book, a must-read. I first saw Jamie Bartlett doing an explanatory VT on This Week during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It was one of the best I’ve ever seen and all the guests on the show said the same. The book was in the same style - easy to understand, concise and illuminating. Distilled complicated but important information for rooky readers. The conclusion was one of the best non-fiction chapters I’ve read and paints a scary but foreseeable picture of ‘techno-authoritarianism’. Nice shaded criticism of Trump as well...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nikolay

    I had a chance to listen to Jamie's talk on ethics in technology at one of Real Time Club's dinners where I got this book. I read it the next day. It's an interesting read for anyone who is curious about how a modern system of government is challenged by personalised ads, tribalism, algorithms and apps which know better who you should vote for. I had a chance to listen to Jamie's talk on ethics in technology at one of Real Time Club's dinners where I got this book. I read it the next day. It's an interesting read for anyone who is curious about how a modern system of government is challenged by personalised ads, tribalism, algorithms and apps which know better who you should vote for.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Howard

    What a crock! While the author takes some interesting flights of fancy, he neglects that television, radio, and the phone have all, in their time, been decried as harbingers of the end of democracy as we know it. He neglects the positive side of the coin - the ability to find a wider range of thoughts, facts, and opinions than ever before.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Samuel

    collection of assertions with poor argumentation and lack of citations

  24. 5 out of 5

    Luis

    Great little book. It puts some uncomfortable topics on the table, such as our growing dependency on technology, on the amount of data we are willingly providing to a handful of companies that in turn use it on not so gallant or noble purposes, the effect that technology and big data are having in the political field and how politicians or aspiring politicians are leveraging on it to get ahead on polls, the monopolies in the tech industry and the growing inequality and the toll it will have on ou Great little book. It puts some uncomfortable topics on the table, such as our growing dependency on technology, on the amount of data we are willingly providing to a handful of companies that in turn use it on not so gallant or noble purposes, the effect that technology and big data are having in the political field and how politicians or aspiring politicians are leveraging on it to get ahead on polls, the monopolies in the tech industry and the growing inequality and the toll it will have on our society in the future, etc etc. These are all things that we all know about, but the way this is laid out to us, and all the possible repercussions it may have on our lives, makes you stop and think a little bit if we're not digging our own way into a dystopia and a very bleak future. For sure it will make you think twice on relying so much on just a few companies, and start considering recurring to small/local businesses for your day to day life, and connect with your peers personally and not just via an Avatar on some web or mobile app, to bring back the sense of a local community.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Technology is moving fast and democracy needs to keep up. Bartlett spells out – with considerable urgency – exactly what big data, smart machines and tech monopolies are doing with our personal data and why we should all be paying a lot more attention. Basically, liberty is great – but look around you. If this carries on, will we be able to trust that our elections are free and fair? Bartlett argues that there are six key pillars of democracy, including alert, independent-minded citizens who are Technology is moving fast and democracy needs to keep up. Bartlett spells out – with considerable urgency – exactly what big data, smart machines and tech monopolies are doing with our personal data and why we should all be paying a lot more attention. Basically, liberty is great – but look around you. If this carries on, will we be able to trust that our elections are free and fair? Bartlett argues that there are six key pillars of democracy, including alert, independent-minded citizens who are capable of making important moral judgements (what if we lose the ability to think for ourselves?), and a commonly-agreed reality (so we can debate the issues of the day and trust in a democratic system where things get done). This book is a spirited war cry in defence of democracy in the digital age, and although a bit frantic at times, it’s only a bit about pointing the finger at Facebook or big tech and more about ideas for being better. Read it! These last words are Bartlett’s: ‘Democracy won’t save itself.’

  26. 4 out of 5

    Remko

    An eyeopener on what tech can find out about you by processing just the everyday facts you share in social media (see Cambridge Analytics). And how the profile that is thus created of you gives third parties the chance to target your opinions with biased information. One of the advises Bartlett gives is to avoid the 'free when you share it all with us' companies and instead use the smaller providers, the ones you'll probably have to pay for. Considering how much we like free/cheap it will take a An eyeopener on what tech can find out about you by processing just the everyday facts you share in social media (see Cambridge Analytics). And how the profile that is thus created of you gives third parties the chance to target your opinions with biased information. One of the advises Bartlett gives is to avoid the 'free when you share it all with us' companies and instead use the smaller providers, the ones you'll probably have to pay for. Considering how much we like free/cheap it will take a while till we follow that advise, I'm afraid (I just logged on here by using my Twitter account)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    Bartlett contends that three specific aspects of modern technology — social media platforms, artificial intelligence, and large-scale data collection — threaten the six pillars of democracy and left unchecked could destroy governments as we know them. He also explains how these factors manipulate our thinking and our daily lives and what individuals and governments can and should do to prevent a dystopian future. He stresses the importance of critical thinking skills, listening to perspectives a Bartlett contends that three specific aspects of modern technology — social media platforms, artificial intelligence, and large-scale data collection — threaten the six pillars of democracy and left unchecked could destroy governments as we know them. He also explains how these factors manipulate our thinking and our daily lives and what individuals and governments can and should do to prevent a dystopian future. He stresses the importance of critical thinking skills, listening to perspectives and ideas that differ from our own, and the need to crackdown on developing monopolies. Interesting — and frightening — read!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kent Winward

    I read this just after AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, which is a better book on the issue of technology and democracy. The book has a UK slant which is fine and may feel more applicable to our Brexit brethren. I read this just after AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, which is a better book on the issue of technology and democracy. The book has a UK slant which is fine and may feel more applicable to our Brexit brethren.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hidde

    There's a lot of recent publications about how technology (and especially technology from Silicon Valley) impacts society. I liked ‘People vs Tech’, because it is very to the point and compact. It looks at tech from a political sciences point of view and is full of sharp observations. It paints a gloomy picture of what may lie ahead of us, but also provides ideas to help avoid catastrophe (some more original than others). There's a lot of recent publications about how technology (and especially technology from Silicon Valley) impacts society. I liked ‘People vs Tech’, because it is very to the point and compact. It looks at tech from a political sciences point of view and is full of sharp observations. It paints a gloomy picture of what may lie ahead of us, but also provides ideas to help avoid catastrophe (some more original than others).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nadine

    I feel like I should reread this immediately. Short overview of what tech does or can do to our societal structures; possible utopias and dystopias, how close we are and what we can do do steer away from them. This is a very well structured and heavily researched essay, that challenged my beliefs and understanding of the world.

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