SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Gary Arora, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

Blog Feed Post

From Democracy to Technocracy

During the recent congressional hearings, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the Senate intelligence committee’s vice chairman, said, “The era of the wild west in social media is coming to an end.” Congress, he said, will have to take action. “Where we go from here is an open question.” More hearings are clearly in the offing, and some kind of regulation is likely to follow. That’s the probable future, but what would happen if the government lost its ability to control the tech industry? What if tech fought back? What if our democracy transformed into a technocracy?

Facebook, Twitter, and Google (FTG)

I’ll use FTG as a proxy for content you can find on the public Internet. During 2018 at three different congressional hearings, FTG was variously accused of “allowing” bad actors to use, and abuse, their platforms.

The proper use of FTG should not have been called into question, because FTG’s business model is putting the right message in front of the right person at the right time.

The abuse by bad actors who created fake accounts and deployed bots and trolls is a legitimate area of concern, and everyone knows it must be dealt with.

Then there is the concept of Fake News and the tactical reality of censorship. Like pornography, you might know Fake News when you see it, but well-crafted propaganda rarely identifies itself. Whether human, machine, or a hybrid of both, someone or something has to determine what is acceptable and what is not. Whom would you anoint with that level of power?

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

At least some government legislators believe that FTG has the power to accurately predict voter behavior and, more importantly, has the power to alter the course of elections. This is not an unreasonable thought. FTG is capable of high-level predictive modeling and has the ability to test messaging hypotheses quickly and efficiently. Which raises the question, “Could Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey or Larry Page have swung the outcome of the 2016 presidential election to the candidate of his choice?”

I believe that Facebook or Google could have easily put its candidate of choice in the White House. But I also believe that the company’s CEO would currently be in jail if either had done so.

But FTG took a different path: it followed the existing laws, which state that because Facebook, Twitter, and Google are “neutral platforms,” FTG is not required to monitor illegal activity. In other words, it was business as usual, and FTG’s reward was … congressional hearings.

Follow the law and get a subpoena or fix the elections and go to jail – decisions, decisions.

Oddly, when asked by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) whether Facebook was a tech company or a publisher, Zuckerberg answered, “When people ask us if we’re a media company — or a publisher — my understanding of what the heart of what they’re really getting at is, ‘Do we feel responsibility for the content on our platform?’ The answer to that, I think, is clearly yes.” But what does he mean by “we?” Does he mean a set of policies crafted by a diverse group of democratically elected representatives? Or does he mean the royal we, in other words, him?

The Transformation

Just for fun, let’s imagine a world where the US government decides it is going to take big tech out to the woodshed. Congress has a bunch of hearings. Committees and subcommittees are formed and regulations are crafted. In this hypothetical world, FTG is really unhappy with the government getting in its face and the CEOs decide it’s time to fight back.

Playing this out, FTG sets out to replace the regulators with elected officials who are sympathetic (or subservient) to FTG’s cause. It works because FTG is that powerful.

Then the CEOs in traditional 1930s Gangland-style start divvying up the territory. They invite the other bosses (Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, etc.). And poof! In three election cycles, America is transformed from a democracy into a technocracy – and no one (except those on the inside) would even know.

The Evolution

It’s possible that a technocratic republic would provide a better quality of life than the current constitutional republic. Turning data into action is what big tech does, and for our country to sustain its position as a world leader, it needs technological mastery as a core competence. A technocracy would be run far more efficiently than our current system, and it would be impossible for politicians to do anything other than what they were told to do for the good of the technocracy. However, this vision of a benevolent dictatorial technocracy is naïve in the extreme.

Everything might be great for a while, but then the CEOs would start to disagree or get into turf wars or some other conflict, and they would start fighting with each other with weaponized technology. In the end, some working-class hero would raise up an army and reclaim America for Americans – and in the process probably set the clock back to the Stone Age. Fodder for a B-movie script? Nope. It’s not good enough.

What’s Next

Congress is looking for a fight. Big Tech is not. The process may end with some mild, uninformed regulations that can be easily dealt with, or it may yield draconian regulations that inhibit innovation and growth, or we might end up with some amped-up privacy laws and some regulations around omni-platform advertising and messaging. Whatever the regulations turn out to be, they will apply to everyone, and every business is capable of adapting to a level playing field. In reality, I am not too worried about government tech regulation.

But what if Big Tech decides to fight back? What would that America look like? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m @shellypalmer on Twitter. That seems like the perfect place for this discussion.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

Google: I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

Cloud Wars: The Battle for Your Cloud Storage Dollars

Apple Is Getting into Original Content, Where Does That Leave Advertisers?

Blockchain: 6 Great Non-Cryptocurrency Use Cases

5 AI Clouds You Can Use Today

5 Popular Non-Bitcoin Cryptocurrencies You Might Find Interesting

5 AI Clouds You Can Use Today

The Current Reality of Augmented Reality

What is a Smart Contract?

What Is Blockchain?

5 Things 5G Should Make You Think About

The Case for Responsible Innovation

I’d Pay You $500,000 a Year, but You Can’t Do the Work

The 5 Jobs Robots Will Take First

The post From Democracy to Technocracy originally appeared here on Shelly Palmer

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.

Latest Stories
While a hybrid cloud can ease that transition, designing and deploy that hybrid cloud still offers challenges for organizations concerned about lack of available cloud skillsets within their organization. Managed service providers offer a unique opportunity to fill those gaps and get organizations of all sizes on a hybrid cloud that meets their comfort level, while delivering enhanced benefits for cost, efficiency, agility, mobility, and elasticity.
Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simplicity and reach of the open web. With staff in 10 timezones, Isomorphic provides a global network of services related to our technology, with offerings ranging from turnkey application development to SLA-backed enterprise support. Leadin...
DevOps has long focused on reinventing the SDLC (e.g. with CI/CD, ARA, pipeline automation etc.), while reinvention of IT Ops has lagged. However, new approaches like Site Reliability Engineering, Observability, Containerization, Operations Analytics, and ML/AI are driving a resurgence of IT Ops. In this session our expert panel will focus on how these new ideas are [putting the Ops back in DevOps orbringing modern IT Ops to DevOps].
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Enterprises are striving to become digital businesses for differentiated innovation and customer-centricity. Traditionally, they focused on digitizing processes and paper workflow. To be a disruptor and compete against new players, they need to gain insight into business data and innovate at scale. Cloud and cognitive technologies can help them leverage hidden data in SAP/ERP systems to fuel their businesses to accelerate digital transformation success.
Concerns about security, downtime and latency, budgets, and general unfamiliarity with cloud technologies continue to create hesitation for many organizations that truly need to be developing a cloud strategy. Hybrid cloud solutions are helping to elevate those concerns by enabling the combination or orchestration of two or more platforms, including on-premise infrastructure, private clouds and/or third-party, public cloud services. This gives organizations more comfort to begin their digital tr...
Most organizations are awash today in data and IT systems, yet they're still struggling mightily to use these invaluable assets to meet the rising demand for new digital solutions and customer experiences that drive innovation and growth. What's lacking are potent and effective ways to rapidly combine together on-premises IT and the numerous commercial clouds that the average organization has in place today into effective new business solutions.
Keeping an application running at scale can be a daunting task. When do you need to add more capacity? Larger databases? Additional servers? These questions get harder as the complexity of your application grows. Microservice based architectures and cloud-based dynamic infrastructures are technologies that help you keep your application running with high availability, even during times of extreme scaling. But real cloud success, at scale, requires much more than a basic lift-and-shift migrati...
David Friend is the co-founder and CEO of Wasabi, the hot cloud storage company that delivers fast, low-cost, and reliable cloud storage. Prior to Wasabi, David co-founded Carbonite, one of the world's leading cloud backup companies. A successful tech entrepreneur for more than 30 years, David got his start at ARP Instruments, a manufacturer of synthesizers for rock bands, where he worked with leading musicians of the day like Stevie Wonder, Pete Townsend of The Who, and Led Zeppelin. David has ...
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Addteq is a leader in providing business solutions to Enterprise clients. Addteq has been in the business for more than 10 years. Through the use of DevOps automation, Addteq strives on creating innovative solutions to solve business processes. Clients depend on Addteq to modernize the software delivery process by providing Atlassian solutions, create custom add-ons, conduct training, offer hosting, perform DevOps services, and provide overall support services.
Contino is a global technical consultancy that helps highly-regulated enterprises transform faster, modernizing their way of working through DevOps and cloud computing. They focus on building capability and assisting our clients to in-source strategic technology capability so they get to market quickly and build their own innovation engine.
When applications are hosted on servers, they produce immense quantities of logging data. Quality engineers should verify that apps are producing log data that is existent, correct, consumable, and complete. Otherwise, apps in production are not easily monitored, have issues that are difficult to detect, and cannot be corrected quickly. Tom Chavez presents the four steps that quality engineers should include in every test plan for apps that produce log output or other machine data. Learn the ste...
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...