Is Big Tech the New Big Oil? Notes

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This article takes a general look at the last revolutions we have had – from industrial revolution to tech revolution. We are now in an IT revolution in which we mine ourselves, our data for resources.

  • The industrial revolution = energy revolution
  • Current tech revolution is comparable to the industrial revolution in its scope, impact and effects
  • We learned to capture increasing amounts of energy and then build things called machines
    • Machines manipulate the energy to do something we want it to do
  • We have extracted energy trapped in concentrated biomass (fossil fuels)
    • This was the start of oil
  • The tech revolution is about capturing and processing data
  • Similarities and dissimilarities in the positives and negatives of the two revolutions

The Flow of Money

  • Wealth created during the Industrial Revolution → made for “industrialized countries” 
    • Increased the gap between well-off and not so well-off countries
  • The tech revolution also played a huge role in globalization + level of connectivity 
    • Led to the concentration of global wealth
    • Plays a major role in reducing inequality across countries but increasing it within and at the level of humanity
  • Tech revolution → playing a major role in reducing inequality across countries but increasing it within and at the level of humanity
  • Just 9 of the world’s richest people own more wealth than the poorest 4 bilion
    • 6 out of 9 are from tech industry

The Collateral Damage

  • Our current global ecological footprint is 1.7 Earth’s
  • Mass extinction of species, pollution of air/water, and destruction of natural systems
  • We hacked and exploited the natural ecosystem 
  • IT revolution is doing something similar → but 
  • We are mining ourselves 

The curse of short-sightedness…

  • Long term consequence of pumping large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere
  • Moved from being farmers to factory workers, lawyers, programmers
  • Humans have a.) physical labor, b.) mental labor → physical labor taken away from us in the industrial revolution and mental labor taken away by the tech revolution. 
  • Short-sightedness or ignore the problems for the sake of financial gains
  • “Move fast, break things” in silicon valley→ but what if the thing that is broken is unrepairable?
  • Not undervaluing the contribution of tech → but we need to have these discussions to shine light fro our last revolution to the current one so we can learn from the mistakes

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