Introduction: What is “techlash”?
“Techlash” refers to the phenomenon that the number one of large technology companies is getting bigger and bigger, and the phenomenon of resistance or even opposition to popular modern technology. Not only are they disgusted with the innovative technologies driven by information technology, but they also actively support policies that explicitly suppress the innovative technologies driven by information technology. (Robert D. Atkinson, D. B., 2019).
Since the 2008 financial crisis, the technology industry has become the brightest company in the global economy. While occupying the market and selling services, these technology giants claim that they will use technology to solve many problems facing mankind. The people have long held a good impression of these companies, but they have ignored the monopoly of technology giants and the nature of their commercial companies. As the negative effects brought about by the digital economy become more apparent, the phenomenon of “technical backlash” is likely to become more serious, which has aroused public concerns about techlash.
Public concerns about unemployment caused by techlash and solutions
The public and economic concerns are that the intelligence and data drive advocated by technology giants have disrupted normal business competition, began to endanger the livelihoods of traditional industries, and made many workers the targets of technology giants squeeze. Due to the prevalence of technology, people are focusing on the Internet. In the past decade, American journalism has been declining. Between 2008 and 2018, the number of jobs in the U.S. newsroom was reduced by 25%, with the newspaper industry experiencing the largest reduction in jobs. These declines continue, with US journalism losing approximately 3,000 jobs in the first five months of 2019. (Robert D. Atkinson, D. B., 2019) In addition, the word “intelligence” has become a common word in our lives in recent years. Major technology companies have begun to devote themselves to the development of the artificial intelligence industry, using machines to replace humans. Silicon Valley Gadfly Vivek Wadhwa predicts that 80% to 90% of jobs will be eliminated by the end of the next decade. (Dvorsky, G., 2018)
A January 2019 column in the Houston Chronicle warned that “Automation could hollow out the American workforce.” (Robert D. Atkinson, D. B.，2019). In the past decade, most automation has taken over workers in the past Tasks performed. The advancement of science and technology is an important factor leading to the rise in unemployment. To solve this problem, first, the government can provide education and training courses, the purpose is to provide new skills for the long-term unemployed, so that they can find jobs in developing industries. Second, the government can increase the flexibility of the labor market and create other industries, thereby expanding the scope of employment and increasing jobs. Third, technology companies can try to develop more new jobs and provide more jobs for employees.
Public concerns about privacy leakage caused by techlash and solutions
The public’s concern at the social level is that the public’s concern about the abuse of information collection and information push by the technology giants is gradually becoming a reality, which is causing a crisis of trust among the public. In this age of advanced Internet, to a certain extent, the efficiency and scope of information dissemination have been greatly improved. People’s life trajectories have basically left their footprints on the Internet, and people’s personal privacy has also been unintentionally exposed on the uncovered platform of the Internet. In 2016, Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign team received personal data from 87 million Facebook users through online tests. (Flew, T., 2018) This virtual communication method also exposes the inability to be effectively supervised. The authenticity of the information cannot be verified. And these companies do not need to bear the social responsibility for the problems caused by these remarks. Although the development of the Internet has made the global economy positive, these issues have caused people to worry about data privacy, leading to the public’s aversion to the “digitalization” of all things. Generally speaking, these factors constitute part of the “global technological shock.
Since the birth of the Internet, people have been constantly calling to remind the government to strengthen Internet supervision. In a speech by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen described as “the greatest propaganda machine in history”. He argued that the company does not censor the authenticity of political advertisements and would allow Nazism to spread. Promote on its platform. (Guardian News and Media, 2019) Various signs indicate that enterprises lack self-regulation. From a corporate perspective, the most famous solution is the establishment of the Trust and Security Council by Twitter in 2016. This is an online issue of advice provided by 40 third-party NGOs. These recommendations involve Twitter’s balancing decision. (Flew, T.,2018) From the government’s point of view, there have been many suggestions on how to manage the network environment and use norms to make the network more in line with the needs of the public. Article 230 of the 1996 “Communications Act” in the United States protects the position that all technology companies are only disseminating this information. (Flew, T., 2018) But the government cannot effectively supervise these intermediary agencies. To some extent, it also depends on the system and culture of the nation-state. For example, in the United States, without the strong will of Congress, the Federal Communications Commission cannot be upgraded, so people are more inclined to the rigid requirements of the law itself. And the EU is just adopting interventionism.
Public concerns about monopoly caused by techlash and solutions
The public’s concern on the political level is that Western governments have discovered that technology giants have long lacked supervision and ethical standards for their own businesses, causing these companies to become “fake news” and even platforms for other countries to launch “information warfare”, which has an impact on national security. In addition, perhaps the most frequently cited technology shock complaint is that technology companies are monopolies, which are harming the economy. Tim Wu wrote that Facebook is a typical representative of the great curse, Google destroyed all competitors, and Amazon will be the only company that sells online. (Solman, P., 2019) The harm of monopoly is that due to the lack of competitive pressure and development motivation, coupled with the lack of a strong external control and supervision mechanism, the service quality of monopolistic industries is often unsatisfactory and often goes against the market. Laws, infringement of consumers’ right to fair transaction and choice. The overall efficiency of the technology monopoly industry is directly related to the ability of other industries to participate in international competition. In addition, monopoly can lead to a huge gap between rich and poor and can cause market failure. Therefore, free competition is the most ideal market structure for maximizing social welfare and harmonious development.
To prevent the emergence of monopoly issues, the government, regulatory agencies, and enterprises themselves should jointly resolve them. First of all, the government can pass laws to prevent this from happening. Many countries/regions have enacted anti-monopoly laws to protect consumers and regulate the way companies do business. Antitrust laws are regulations formulated by the government to protect consumers from predatory business practices and ensure fair competition. Second, regulators can supervise companies through data analysis and market investigations. Once relevant monopolistic behaviors are discovered, they can take guidance and warnings. Third, in addition to external supervision, companies also need to strengthen self-regulation to avoid such bad behaviors and create a good market environment. In general, only the cooperation and supervision of various departments can create a good market environment and eliminate monopolistic behavior.
In general, as the negative effects brought about by the digital economy become more apparent, the phenomenon of “technical backlash” is likely to become more serious. The current public concern is that technology “automatically” replaces labor, causing the unemployment rate to rise. As well as the cycle of fake news and the leakage of personal privacy by technology companies. In addition, there is also the potential monopolistic behavior of technology companies. If these problems are not controlled and resolved, this will not only affect the social credibility of the entire technology industry and slow down the development of the industry, but it may also turn into technological skepticism and technological conspiracy theories. In order to solve the problem, this requires not only government supervision, but the self-discipline of enterprises also needs social supervision, which can alleviate people’s worries to a large extent and avoid problems caused by the technological backlash.
Dvorsky, G. (2018). Emerging tech will create more jobs than it kills by 2022, World Economic Forum predicts. Gizmodo. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://gizmodo.com/emerging-tech-will-create-more-jobs-than-it-kills-by-20-1829111519.
Flew, T. (2018). Platforms on Trial. Journal Of Digital Media & Policy, 46(1), 16-21. doi: 10.1386/jdmp.10.1.33_1
Guardian News and Media. (2019). Read Sacha Baron Cohen’s scathing attack on Facebook in full: ‘greatest propaganda machine in history’. The Guardian. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/nov/22/sacha-baron-cohen-facebook-propaganda.
Robert D. Atkinson, D. B. (2019). A policymaker’s guide to the “Techlash”-what it is and why it’s a threat to growth and progress. A Policymaker’s Guide to the “Techlash”-What It Is and Why It’s a Threat to Growth and Progress. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://itif.org/publications/2019/10/28/policymakers-guide-techlash.
Solman, P. (2019). Why tech industry monopolies could be a ‘curse’ for Society. PBS. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-tech-industry-monopolies-could-be-a-curse-for-society.