About this series:

Crash Course on
Big Tech, techno-feudalism and democracy

In this third Crash Course series we turn to one of the biggest winners of the Covid-19 Pandemic: Big Tech. These increasingly powerful and financialized firms routinely represent themselves as ‘innovators‘ and ‘problem solvers‘ and self-proclaimed forces for good by connecting ‘users’ worldwide. But are the solutions provided by Big Tech as good as they contend? What does the rise of Big Tech entail for the sovereignty of countries in the Global South? How can we organize democratic control as capitalism moves into an unknown socio-technological phase? And how might we embrace technology as a force for good?

Big Tech companies have spearheaded the digitization of economy and society, with their seemingly inescapable digital interfaces - from Google Maps to Facebook's WhatsApp to Zoom - increasingly overlaying the ‘real‘ world.

But the tide seems to be turning for these powerful corporations. Increasingly, Big Tech is being recognized as a powerful enemy to democracy and part of the rising post-truth society which is fueling xenophobic and illiberal ideologies. Big Tech has gained the reputation of an unchecked corporate power.

In the past year the seven largest Big Tech firms had financial assets (surplus profits) of US $631 billion. In October 2020, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet each single one represented a value over US $1 trillion. The financial firepower of Big Tech firms is unrivaled, and new or independent platforms often do not stand a chance against these monopolists.

These seven Big Techs increasingly dominate the tech universe, with thousands of smaller platforms orbiting around them. Millions of applications are built on top of them -- all relying on its core infrastructure, and paying rent for doing so. With each firm having cornered its own monopoly, Big Tech as a whole has effectively come to colonize key forms and means of social exchange, broadly defined, overlaying the ways in which people interact via digital interfaces.

This Crash Course series investigates the main threats and challenges that Big Tech monopolies confront us with and invites you to contribute to progressive answers to rogue techno-scientific capitalism.