From the bestselling author of The Dark Net comes a book that explains all the dangers of the digital revolution and offers concrete solutions on how we can protect our personal privacy, and democracy itself.
The internet was meant to set us free. 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.
Tech journalist Bartlett's latest (following The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld) is an expansive and palatable meditation on modern society and what he argues is an inherent conflict between digital technology and Western democracy. Bartlett lays out his concerns strategically, identifying six key pillars of a healthy democratic society (including active citizens and free elections). He goes on to show how each principle is threatened in an increasingly data-driven world, illustrating the ways artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies contribute to the "retribalization" of politics, exacerbate inequality, and force the public to relinquish their liberty to "a small number of rogue actors" and "progressive but authoritarian technocrats." Bartlett offers some common-sense solutions at the end of the book for how government might intervene to protect the people from tech monopolies, including robot taxes and an overhaul of antitrust law. Bartlett's concise book serves as a helpful primer for anyone looking to understand the societal implications of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal currently making headlines.