Is the public mood turning against the tech giants?

October 26, 2017


We were joined by Nigel Cameron for this week’s podcast. Nigel, normally based in the US, is our tech editor and we discussed the key arguments contained in three of his columns for UnHerd:

  • The tech and other news that isn’t getting reported because of the overwhelming attention that Donald Trump is getting from the news media (Trump trumps the tech news).
  • Mind the jobs gap! While, over time, new tech might create as many jobs as are automated by robots, the transition period from now until that unknowable future might throw up very serious social dislocations. Moreover, argues Nigel, it’s women who are most likely to thrive in the new economy (Robots will take many of today’s jobs and tomorrow’s jobs? They’ll be dominated by women) – aggravating the economic problems that are facing so many less-skilled men (the subject of Charlotte Pickles’ most recent piece).
  • Thirdly, is the popularity of the big tech firms coming to an end? During our very first week we published YouGov polling of both UK and (especially) US citizens which found that more people were favourable to the giant internet firms that were unfavourable (by two-to-one in America). As firms like Apple potentially compromise their clean reputations by “kow-towing” to China… Uber upsets London’s regulators… Google gets fined by the EU for unfair treatment of advertisers… AirBNB suffers protests from tenant groups affected by their service’s impact on rents… Facebook and Twitter are accused of enabling Vladimir Putin to subvert the democratic process… and so on and so on… there’s evidence that elite opinion (in the press, among politicians, in academia) might be changing.

Huge topics and only thirty minutes in which to discuss them – but topics we will be returning to again and again in the future. Not least, because of Nigel’s open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, published today and which raises many of the accountability issues on tax, censorship, local welfare and child protection that all the tech firms are entangled with…

and another podcast!

In last week’s podcast we talked to Peter Franklin about his UnPacked column. It went down so well that we’re experimenting with an additional weekly podcast in which we’ll talk with Peter about the latest gems of knowledge he’s found as part of his deep diving into the world wide web. The first version of that podcast will be posted tomorrow – with Peter, Tim and starring our new Deputy Editor, Amanda Whiting.


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