Silicon Valley and the Future of Capitalism

Tuesday November 17, 2020
12:30 PM - 1:50 PM


Join the first session of the Liu Institute for Global Issues webinar series to learn about The Smartphone Society with author Nicole Aschoff.

The rapidly growing power of US tech companies to dominate digital markets has alarmed policymakers around the world. Google, Amazon, and Facebook are increasingly compared to the robber barons of the Gilded Age — a time of skyrocketing inequality and corporate overreach. Congressional investigators recently argued that “these firms have too much power, and that power must be reined in and subject to appropriate oversight and enforcement.” Observers are right to be worried. But reining in Big Tech will require us to look beyond digital markets to how capitalism itself has evolved over the past decade. Technology companies have used our smartphones to forge a new frontier of appropriation and exploitation with profound political, social, and ecological implications.

Presenter: Nicole Aschoff
Faculty Host: SPPGA Professor Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security; Director, Liu Institute for Global Issues, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, UBC
Student Host: Alexander Howes, Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs, UBC

Bio: Nicole Aschoff is the author of The Smartphone Society and The New Prophets of Capital, the managing editor of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and an editor-at-large at Jacobin magazine. She holds a PhD in sociology from Johns Hopkins University and previously taught at Boston University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Nicole’s new book is called The Smartphone Society: Technology, Power and Resistance in the New Gilded Age. (You can order the book from Beacon.) Using the smartphone as a lens, she examines the cultural, political, and economic shifts reshaping American society since the birth of the smartphone in 2007. In particular, she interrogates the defining tension of digital life: the stark disconnect between the ordinary smartphone user seeking entertainment, connection, information, and justice, and the tech companies looking to profit from our every tap and swipe.

You can reach her on Twitter: @NicoleAschoff

Co-hosted by: The Liu Institute for Global Issues, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, UBC

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