Innovation economist and digital policy expert Francesca Bria joins us to talk about her experiences trying to counter the power of Big Tech and using technology for democratic decision making. Bria is the former CTO of the City of Barcelona and has been leading European Research and Innovation projects related to digital sovereignty, digital democracy and crypto platforms.
In 2015 local elections in Spain were spectacular and radical democratic local forums won in many places and in some of the largest cities (Barcelona, Madrid, and others). Most prominent was the victory in Barcelona under the umbrella of Barcelona en Comú, and with the urban activist Ada Colau as mayor Francesca Bria became Barcelona’s Chief Technology and Digital Innovation Officer and has developed programs to curb the power of the tech giants and to use technology for democratic decision making. One of the international organisations that Francesca helped to develop was the Decode Project (https://decodeproject.eu/) with the aim to provide tools that put individuals in control of whether they keep their personal information private or share it for the public good.
Francesca Bria is the President of the Italian National Innovation Fund. She is an Italian information technologist who lectures at various universities and is a consultant to the United Nations and the European Commission.
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?