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Six ways that big technology may be turning our reality into a version of Black Mirror

Acclaimed tech reporter, Alex Kantrowitz, gives a fascinating insight into the inner workings of the Tech Titans —Amazon, Google and Facebook, playing with the Amazon mantra of ‘Day One’— code for inventing like a startup, with little regard for legacy and prioritizing reinvention over tradition and collaboration over ownership.

Through 130 interviews with insiders, from Mark Zuckerberg to hourly workers, Always Day One reveals the tech giants’ blueprint for success but also posits how the dystopian alternate reality of the popular series Black Mirror actually anticipates modern technology’s dark consequences.

Here are six quotes from Always Day One that illustrate how the Black Mirror is not far off – being slowly but surely shaped by Big Tech.

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The pervasiveness of technology is slowly ‘eroding meaning’ in our lives by altering our personal, financial and faith based equations.

 

In November 2018, Pew released a study looking at where Americans find meaning in their lives. The top three boil down to: (1) friends and family, (2) religion, and (3) work and money. Modern technology is weakening all three. The screen is warping our relationships with friends and family. We have more virtual friends than ever and fewer real ones, and a growing number of us have no friends at all.

 

The dystopian fantasy of a handful of AI- powered firms dominating the competition and controlling the economy is scarily similar to how big technological firms are operating even now.

 

“The dystopia is now,” Barry Lynn, director of the Open Markets Institute, told me. “The dystopia is not in the future.” To Lynn and the growing number of big- tech critics, the tech giants have already grown too big and powerful, and are causing real harm. While making this case in 2017, Lynn got himself, and his institute, ousted from the New America Foundation, which counts Google among its donors.

Always Day One || Alex Kantrowitz
Big Tech is shaping our worldview through their management of information enabled by their monopoly over the advertising revenue which funds news.

 

Advertising revenue declines have hit small and midsize papers especially hard, hollowing out local accountability reporting across the United States, a boon to local officials who would rather not be watched. Facebook and Google earned 60 percent of all dollars spent in US digital advertising in 2018, according to eMarketer, for a total of $65 billion.

 

Global dominance is empowering firms to shape the very nature of our reality with their monopoly over the products that are integral part of our lived experience.

 

Amazon has similarly used its platform power to hamper businesses that sell products through its systems, Lynn said. The company has built scores of its own “private label” brands that compete with its independent sellers, placing these sellers in a rough position: If they don’t work with Amazon, they’ll reach far fewer customers. If they do work with Amazon, the company might eventually displace their businesses.

 

Scientific research that shapes our future is controlled and shaped by big-tech, meaning that the futuristic dystopia of Black Mirror may be nearer than we think.

 

Tech companies are buying out not only entrepreneurs, but academics with artificial intelligence expertise as well. This practice is depleting the knowledge students will learn from before they head into the broader workforce. Over the past fifteen years, 153 artificial intelligence professors have left academia for private companies, according to a University of Rochester study.

 

If AI, which is the chief thrust of Big Tech wipes out a considerable number of jobs, the devastation could be destabilizing—and dystopian

 

Cowie, who’s spent his career studying how a changing economy is impacting workers, said that when people lose the ability to work and the hope to regain it, their lives are devastated. “If you look at these guys in the rust belt, where the jobs have left, nothing’s replaced them, they really have lost the narrative of their lives,” he said.

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Always Day One gives you a lot to learn about the Tech Titans and what makes them tick!

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