Often described as a many-headed Leviathan, Big Tech consists of Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft with other smaller personal data guzzling platforms operating as its arms, legs, eyes, and ears. Together, they form an ever-evolving giant that’s taking control of people’s lives with steady access to their data.
Some 30 years ago, people were not even interested in the internet. Mostly because they thought that it would bear the same fate as the fax machine. So, the world largely left this sector to its own devices, allowing it to grow unfettered. No one really fathomed that in just two decades this formless being would grow into a full-fledged giant, powerful enough to rule our minds and predict our behavior.
What Makes Big Tech, Big?
In the U.S. itself, Big Tech companies generate over $900 billion in revenue simply by targeting ads and tapping into user data. In addition to this baffling amount of money, Big Tech employs the bulk of the most innovative and brightest minds in the country. So, the big question about Big Tech is, what exactly are they doing with all these resources. On the surface level, their main focus is selling ads that appear on every screen and generating user data.
While nothing is wrong with targeting ads, but with the amount of money generated from this activity, Big Tech can do much more. Especially when it comes to helping society.
Across the last decade, global tech companies have proven that they are the ones that bring connectivity and innovative technological solutions to the unserved and underserved populations across the globe. But, it is not enough for an enterprise to focus solely on improving efficiency or customer satisfaction. There needs to be a shift in their efforts to have a positive impact on society.
We’ve all come to the realization that digital technologies are not just software products, but in the wrong hands can cause civil breakdowns in our society. According to a 2020 story from the Wall Street Journal, 64 percent of all extremist groups use Facebook recommendation tools to recruit allies. Instead of flagging such accounts and activities, Big Tech platforms continue to monetize user data regardless of the political and societal repercussions.
What Does The Future Hold For Big Tech?
Without a doubt, technology has been a boon for most of us. But in the wrong hands, it can quickly turn into a bane that takes down societies. What we need is a future with equal distribution of Big Tech companies across the globe. Just by sitting in Silicon Valley, Big Tech lacks the understanding of its societal implications. By creating alternative hubs and dispersing power from Silicon Vallery to different locations across the globe, we can give equal opportunities to all regions.
The technology created under such circumstances will come from different points of view and experiences, making it more diverse and reflecting the needs of the local communities.
As we have seen in the last few years, Big Tech has the power to change our lives overnight. But they have also shown gross negligence in monitoring the negative impact their platforms have on society. Many governments are now pushing for compliance policies that Big Tech companies need to adhere to if they want to build a sustainable platform in that country or region.
Meaningful change will only happen when governments commit to understanding the technicalities of how Big Tech platforms operate so that lawmakers can better understand how to regulate the sector without killing innovation.