Peter Thiel and Jonathan Zittrain Discuss the Future of Digital Monopolies Today at 4:45 p.m. on Big Think

Big Think and the Berkman Center present a live stream debate on the future of digital monopolies.

Even before Facebook hit 200 million global users last week, making its population larger than that of Brazil and Japan, it became a global monopoly on par with Google. For centuries, monopolies have been perceived as antagonistic to functioning capitalist systems. But can monopolies actually be a good thing on the web?


That question—Is monopoly a good thing in most things digital?—is central to a debate today between PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel and Harvard Law School professor Jonathan Zittrain, who leads a seminar at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society this semester called "The Internet: Ideas at the Frontiers." It's a question that is fundamentally changing the way we approach technology and corporate regulation around the world.

If you type "Facebook is a monopoly" or "Facebook a monopoly" into that search engine monopoly, Google, you pull up two comments about how Facebook knows too much. In other words, although Facebook has emerged as the new digital phone book for the world—as well as the world's largest repository for personal data—nobody seems to be talking about what this means for the future of online anti-trust and capitalism in general. Could it be that a utility which works best when the most people use it, should be granted global monopoly status?

As part of a live stream event brought to you by the Berkman Center and Big Think, Thiel, a macro hedge fund manager and technology expert, and Zittrain, author of the book, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, will address other important questions such as, How will the internet-driven centralization and decentralization of information continue to impact the balance of power between state and non-state actors? As well, Thiel and Zittrain will discuss what role the internet will play in helping to fulfill the promise of creative destruction discussed by economists like Joseph Schumpeter?

Visit Big Think's special Berkman Center idea page here at 4:45 p.m. and tap into the most cutting-edge conversation happening on technology today.

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

This 5-minute neck scan can spot dementia 10 years before it emerges

The results come from a 15-year study that used ultrasound scans to track blood vessels in middle-aged adults starting in 2002.

Mikhail Kalinin via Wikipedia
Mind & Brain
  • The study measured the stiffness of blood vessels in middle-aged patients over time.
  • Stiff blood vessels can lead to the destruction of delicate blood vessels in the brain, which can contribute to cognitive decline.
  • The scans could someday become a widely used tool to identify people at high risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.
Keep reading Show less

Juul to stop selling most e-cigarettes in stores, leaves social media

Facing mounting pressure from the public and government agencies, the e-cigarette maker announced major changes to its business model on Tuesday.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Juul makes flavored e-cigarettes and currently dominates the vaping industry, with 70% of the market share.
  • The FDA is planning to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in gas stations and convenient stores this week.
  • Some have called teenage vaping an epidemic. Data from 2018 show that about 20% of high school students had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.
Keep reading Show less