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Big Tech Won’t Remake the Global Order

In the article from Foreign Policy https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/11/08/big-tech-wont-remake-the-global-order/, Stephen M. Walt, a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University, highlighted:

If you had to bet on which will shape the future, the smart money would be on states over technology.

Why states will win

For all their shortcomings, states remain the dominant political form in the world today. The number of independent states has grown steadily since 1945 because different ethnic or national groups continue to crave the security and autonomy that only self-government can provide. (If you don’t understand why groups want their own state, just ask Kurds or Palestinians what life is like without one.) Some states do not protect their own populations very well, but most states do a fair job of providing basic security most of the time. And when emergencies arise—9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, a catastrophic weather event—people don’t call Tim Cook or Sergey Brin to fix the problem; they turn to the government.

Even today, corporations, banks, NGOs, and Big Tech are all ultimately backstopped by rules enacted and enforced by governments. If corporations enjoy certain privileges (such as limited liability, legal personhood, or the protection of Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act), it is because governments have given these to them. When Huawei suddenly couldn’t get the chips it needed, it was because a government decided to block these sales. States also control the ultimate weapon: the legitimate use of force. It is states that decides when and whom to fight, and when they do, citizens in nearly every country willingly march into harm’s way.

Professor Alex Sandy Pentland, MIT, co-author of Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment, commented:

“It’s a false dichotomy, both states and tech are reshaping world order…just as happened with guns, banking, etc.   tech is changing wealth and ability to sense and act; some states are seizing that for their purposes…but so are non-state actors Including terrorists, trade companies, and financial institutions.

China would not be nearly so important on world stage without dominance in tech, and could not govern so completely without it”


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