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Tech Giants, Once Seen as Saviors, Are Now Viewed as Threats (via NYT)

In Europe, however, the ground is already shifting. Google’s share of the search engine market there is 92 percent, according to StatCounter. But that did not stop the European Union from fining it $2.7 billion in June for putting its products above those of its rivals.

A new German law that fines social networks huge sums for not taking down hate speech went into effect this month. On Tuesday, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain said the government was looking carefully at the roles, responsibility and legal status of Google and Facebook, with an eye to regulating them as news publishers rather than platforms.

This war, like so many wars, is going to start in Europe,  said Mr. Galloway, the New York University professor.

Tech Giants, Once Seen as Saviors, Are Now Viewed as Threats
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/technology/tech-giants-threats.html


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Opportunity for everyone – great post by google CEO Sundar Pinchai

“These are tough gaps. For instance, the nature of work is fundamentally changing. And that is shifting the link between education, training and opportunity. Young people already feel this. An Economist survey found that less than half of 18- to 25-year-olds believe their education gives them the skills they need to enter today’s workforce. That’s a significant gap that’s only going to become more urgent. One-third of jobs in 2020 will require skills that aren’t common today.�

Opportunity for everyone
https://blog.google/topics/causes-community/opportunity-for-everyone/?utm_source=MIT+Technology+Review&utm_campaign=f406b201c7-The_Download&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_997ed6f472-f406b201c7-154803941
via Instapaper



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I invested early in Google and Facebook. Now they terrify me (great piece by Roger McNamee)



"The people at Facebook and Google believe that giving consumers more of what they want and like is worthy of praise, not criticism. What they fail to recognize is that their products are not making consumers happier or more successful. Like gambling, nicotine, alcohol or heroin, Facebook and Google — most importantly through its YouTube subsidiary — produce short-term happiness with serious negative consequences in the long term. Users fail to recognize the warning signs of addiction until it is too late. There are only 24 hours in a day, and technology companies are making a play for all them. The CEO of Netflix recently noted that his company’s primary competitor is sleep.  How does this work? A 2013 study found that average consumers check their smartphones 150 times a day. And that number has probably grown. People spend 50 minutes a day on Facebook. Other social apps such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter combine to take up still more time. Those companies maintain a profile on every user, which grows every time you like, share, search, shop or post a photo. Google also is analyzing credit card records of millions of people. As a result, the big Internet companies know more about you than you know about yourself, which gives them huge power to influence you, to persuade you to do things that serve their economic interests. Facebook, Google and others compete for each consumer’s attention, reinforcing biases and reducing the diversity of ideas to which each is exposed. The degree of harm grows over time."

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/08/08/my-google-and-facebook-investments-made-fortune-but-now-they-menace/543755001/

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Ends, Means, and Antitrust (nice Stretchery post on the Google fine)

“This is perhaps the most consequential aspect of this case, and I think the European Commission got it exactly right. Last year in Antitrust and Aggregation I explained why the unique dynamics of the Internet push towards dominant players that look very different from the monopolies of the past:

Aggregation Theory is about how business works in a world with zero distribution costs and zero transaction costs; consumers are attracted to an aggregator through the delivery of a superior experience, which attracts modular suppliers, which improves the experience and thus attracts more consumers, and thus more suppliers in the aforementioned virtuous cycle. It is a phenomenon seen across industries including search (Google and web pages), feeds (Facebook and content), shopping (Amazon and retail goods), video (Netflix/YouTube and content creators), transportation (Uber/Didi and drivers), and lodging (Airbnb and rooms, Booking/Expedia and hotels).

The first key antitrust implication of Aggregation Theory is that, thanks to these virtuous cycles, the big get bigger; indeed, all things being equal the equilibrium state in a market covered by Aggregation Theory is monopoly: one aggregator that has captured all of the consumers and all of the suppliers. This monopoly, though, is a lot different than the monopolies of yesteryear: aggregators aren’t limiting consumer choice by controlling supply (like oil) or distribution (like railroads) or infrastructure (like telephone wires); rather, consumers are self-selecting onto the Aggregator’s platform because it’s a better experience.”

Ends, Means, and Antitrust
https://stratechery.com/2017/ends-means-and-antitrust/
via Instapaper




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The Guardian view on the EU’s Google judgement (part 1)

“The breathtaking fine of €2.4bn that the European commission has imposed on Google for exploiting its virtual monopoly of search is shocking and welcome. It shows that there is at least one polity that is prepared to stand up to the giant tech companies and try to bring them under the rule of the law. The individual countries of Europe are not large enough: Denmark, which has just announced the rather gimmicky appointment of an “ambassador to Silicon Valley”, has a GDP only about two-thirds the size of Facebook’s business. But the EU is big enough and strong enough to act. Further judgments and no doubt further fines are expected in two other cases where Google is accused of steering the market towards its own advertising businesses rather than those of its competitors.

The technology of the mobile internet has been a huge blessing for the world. But where it is not in the hands of undemocratic governments, it is controlled today by multinational advertising companies, which is the business that makes both Google and Facebook their almost incredible profits. However benign their intentions, the sheer size and reach of these companies makes them dangerous. This judgment represents one of the few serious attempts to manage these monopolies. It’s a welcome start.”

The Guardian view on the EU’s Google judgment: firm and fair | Editorial
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/27/guardian-view-eu-google-judgment-fair-fine
via Instapaper





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“Google, not GCHQ, is the truly chilling spy network” says John Naughton (The Guardian)

“one of the spooks with whom I discussed Snowden’s revelations waxed indignant about our coverage of the story. What bugged him (pardon the pun) was the unfairness of having state agencies pilloried, while firms such as Google and Facebook, which, in his opinion, conducted much more intensive surveillance than the NSA or GCHQ, got off scot free. His argument was that he and his colleagues were at least subject to some degree of democratic oversight, but the companies, whose business model is essentially “surveillance capitalism”, were entirely unregulated.

He was right. “Surveillance”, as the security expert Bruce Schneier has observed, is the business model of the internet and that is true of both the public and private sectors. Given how central the network has become to our lives, that means our societies have embarked on the greatest uncontrolled experiment in history. Without really thinking about it, we have subjected ourselves to relentless, intrusive, comprehensive surveillance of all our activities and much of our most intimate actions and thoughts. And we have no idea what the long-term implications of this will be for our societies – or for us"

Google, not GCHQ, is the truly chilling spy network | John Naughton
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/18/google-not-gchq--truly-chilling-spy-network
via Instapaper



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