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Big Tech | Munk Debates

SEASON TWO - EPISODE #39

Big Tech

Be it resolved, don’t fear the dominance of Big Tech in society.

Guests
Robby Soave
Taylor Owen

About this episode

While partisan fighting and gridlock has come to characterize most Western governments, one issue has united liberals and conservatives against a common foe: the rise of Big Tech. Anti-trust experts warn that Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft have become too powerful, too fast. They control our data, our discourse, and our politics. Their unmatched power is a threat to innovation and market competition. For the sake of democracy and dynamism, their days of unlimited expansion, privacy violations, and corporate acquisitions must come to an end. It is past time to regulate these internet giants.

The CEOs of these tech companies, however, are fighting back. Zuckerberg, Bezos, Pichai, et al argue that they have become an easy scapegoat for the pitfalls of a digital revolution no one could have expected. Far from achieving a monopoly over the industry, these companies face stiff competition from big players in the space and emerging disruptors. Furthermore, the negative associations with these companies have overshadowed the very real benefits they have brought to the public; Google, Facebook, YouTube and Amazon have provided revolutionary and life-changing opportunities around the globe. These digital giants have transformed the world into a more inter-connected, transparent, and democratic space for all of its users, uplifting entire communities with just the push of a few buttons. We must embrace, not fear, the rise of big tech and its dominance in society.

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Guests

Robby Soave

“I don't fear the dominance of Big Tech in society. However, I do fear the dominance of government in society, particularly any effort it might undertake to fix some of big tech’s reported problems.”

Robby Soave

“I don't fear the dominance of Big Tech in society. However, I do fear the dominance of government in society, particularly any effort it might undertake to fix some of big tech’s reported problems.”

Robby Soave is a senior editor at Reason. He enjoys writing about culture, politics, education policy, criminal justice reform, television, and video games. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, U.S. News & World Report, The Orange County Register, and The Detroit News. In 2016, Forbes named him to the “30 Under 30” list in the category of law and policy. In 2017, he became a Novak Fellow at The Fund for American Studies. He also serves on the D.C. Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. 

Soave won widespread recognition for setting the record straight in two infamous cases of media malpractice: the 2014 Rolling Stone hoax article about sexual assault at the University of Virginia, and the 2019 incident involving Catholic high school students at the Lincoln Memorial. He won a Southern California Journalism Award for discrediting the former; his writings about the latter prompted several mainstream media outlets to apologize for having wrongly smeared the boys.. 

His first book, Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump, is currently available for purchase. 

Taylor Owen

“We have a set of social harms and economic harms that aren't being self-regulated because of market concentration. We have a failed market that's leading to social and economic harms.”

Taylor Owen

“We have a set of social harms and economic harms that aren't being self-regulated because of market concentration. We have a failed market that's leading to social and economic harms.”

Taylor Owen is the Beaverbrook Chair in Media, Ethics and Communications, the founding director of The Center for Media, Technology and Democracy, and an Associate Professor in the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University. He is the host of the Big Tech podcast, a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Governance Innovation, a Fellow at the Public Policy Forum, and sits on the Governing Council of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). He was previously an Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia and the Research Director of Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia School of Journalism. His Doctorate is from the University of Oxford and he has been a Trudeau and Banting scholar, an Action Canada Fellow and received the 2016 Public Policy Forum Emerging Leader award. He is the author of Disruptive Power: The Crisis of the State in the Digital Age and the co-editor of The World Won’t Wait: Why Canada Needs to Rethink its Foreign Policies and Journalism After Snowden: The Future of the Free Press in the Surveillance State. His forthcoming book with Emily Bell will be published by Yale University Press in 2021.

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