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.

Ethnic chauvinism: Why the whole world shouldn’t look like America

We are constantly trying to force the world to look like us — we need to move on.

Videos
  • When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many Americans jumped for joy. At the time, some believed there weren't going to be any more political disagreements anywhere in the world. They thought American democracy had won the "war of ideas."
  • American exceptionalism has sought to create a world order that's really a mirror image of ourselves — a liberal world order founded on the DNA of American thinking. To many abroad this looks like ethnic chauvinism.
  • We need to move on from this way of thinking, and consider that sometimes "problem-solving," in global affairs, means the world makes us look like how it wants to be.
Keep reading Show less

Physicists find new state of matter that can supercharge technology

Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
  • The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
  • Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
Keep reading Show less

First solar roadway in France turned out to be a 'total disaster'

French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.

Image source: Charly Triballeau / AFP / Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • The French government initially invested in a rural solar roadway in 2016.
  • French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
  • Solar panel "paved" roadways are proving to be inefficient and too expensive.
Keep reading Show less