AI Weekly: Big Tech’s antitrust reckoning is a cautionary tale for the AI industry

By Seth Colaner, July 31, 2020 3:19 PM

This week, as the heads of four of the largest and most powerful tech companies in the world were called before a virtual congressional antitrust hearing to answer inquiries into how they built and run their respective behemoths, you could see that the bloom on the rose of Big Tech has faded.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, once the rascally college dropout boy genius you loved to hate, still doesn’t seem to grasp the magnitude of the problem of globally destructive misinformation and hate speech on his platform. Tim Cook struggles to defend how Apple takes a 30% cut from some of its app store developers’ revenue — a policy he didn’t even establish that is a vestige of Apple’s mid-2000s vise grip on the mobile app market. The plucky young upstarts who founded Google are both middle-aged and have stepped down from executive roles, quietly fading away while Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai runs the show. And Jeff Bezos wears the untroubled visage of the world’s richest man.

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google all created tech products and services that have undeniably changed the world, some in ways that are undeniably good. But as these tech titans moved fast and broke things, they also largely excused themselves from asking difficult ethical questions, from how they built their business empires to the impacts their products and services have on the people who use them.

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