Technology and its discontents
The role of technology is under attack
Today a “techlash” is under way. It comes in many forms, but two stand out. First, a belief that web titans such as Facebook, Amazon and Google have grown too dominant; and, second, a view that AI and algorithms are not transparent or accountable. Both concerns pit the individual against potentially overwhelming power — of the company, the platform, the algorithm.
Take the web giants. They collect a vast amount of data on their users. Much of this is sensitive, from medical matters to political views. So protecting privacy is vital — yet many people have been shocked at revelations about the extent of the information Facebook holds, and the company’s relaxed approach to safeguarding it. That has further fuelled fears about the platform’s growing influence on society and politics.
This article first appeared in the Open Future section of The Economist on April 16th 2018. Read more about Open Future, The Economist’s global conversation on markets, technology and freedom in the 21st century.