What Big Tech does to discourse, and the forgotten tech tool that can make tech less big with Cory Doctorow
It’s uncontroversial to say that our discourse is polarized, angry and unproductive – and to say that Big Tech is to blame. But what is Big Tech’s role in distorting discourse? Is it the use of machine learning and surveillance data to manipulate people at scale? Or is it just plain old monopolism, dressed up in a bunch of AI snakeoil repurposed from the ad-tech industry’s self-serving brags about how good it is at convincing people?
The answer matters, because machine-learning mind-control rays are an existential threat to human agency, while monopolies can be dismantled using competition law — and what’s more, there’s a tried-and-true competition tactics that is uniquely suited to dismantling tech monopolies. Adversarial interoperability turns tech’s market power on its head, allowing new market entrants to use incumbents’ own scale against them.