The People Vs. Democracy: How the Internet Is Killing Democracy (and How We Save It)

Jamie Bartlett. Dutton, $2.99 e-book (256p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4437-3
Tech journalist Bartlett’s latest (following The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld) is an expansive and palatable meditation on modern society and what he argues is an inherent conflict between digital technology and Western democracy. Bartlett lays out his concerns strategically, identifying six key pillars of a healthy democratic society (including active citizens and free elections). He goes on to show how each principle is threatened in an increasingly data-driven world, illustrating the ways artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies contribute to the “retribalization” of politics, exacerbate inequality, and force the public to relinquish their liberty to “a small number of rogue actors” and “progressive but authoritarian technocrats.” Bartlett offers some common-sense solutions at the end of the book for how government might intervene to protect the people from tech monopolies, including robot taxes and an overhaul of antitrust law. Bartlett’s concise book serves as a helpful primer for anyone looking to understand the societal implications of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal currently making headlines. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/07/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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