this week in the near future

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this week in the near future

October 12, 2020 | internet | No Comments

Hi, I’m Azeem Azhar. I convene Exponential View to help us understand how our societies and political economy will change under the force of rapidly accelerating technologies. 

This week, I asked members how we should think and act amidst the K-shaped economic recovery we’re seeing in the US, UK and even China. Join the discussion.

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The near future

🎡 The US House presented a report on the antitrust practices of Big Tech, calling for the most sweeping changes to antitrust laws in decades. Lawmakers say that the GAFA have turned from start-ups into monopolies à la oil tycoons whose “pattern of behaviour raises questions about whether these firms view themselves as above the law.” Matt Stoller points out that the subcommittee went through nearly 1.3 million documents and did hundreds of hours of interviews.

[T]he Cicilline Report is just a document with no intrinsic legal force on its own. It will require follow-on enforcement action at the agencies, or Congress to pass new laws. And cynics would argue, with what seems like a mountain of evidence, that the U.S. government is unable to do anything to constrain the powerful. In particular, Congress itself is nothing but a dysfunctional and corrupt mess.

I haven’t had a chance to digest the report, so I would recommend The Economist’s analysis of why it matters. EV reader, Christopher Mims, has a good round-up of the various views on the findings. To help clarify things for members, I’ll be speaking with Matt Stoller next week. 

In other platform news… Facebook has banned QAnon associated accounts from its Groups, Pages and Instagram. QAnon followers believe that a cabal of satanic elites rule the world, and that President Donald Trump is fighting against the ‘so-called deep state’. (For months, Facebook has been promoting QAnon groups to its userbase.) Facebook will also stop running political advertising after the 3 November – the date of the US election – and hasn’t announced a date for when it will resume running ads. Twitter has launched an enhanced civic integrity policy to protect the US elections

For young people, TikTok has only become more popular – 34 % of teenagers pick Snapchat as their favourite app, while 29 % select TikTok. Instagram is close behind. 

⏩ What will a quantum Internet look like? 

What kind of superpower will China be? Michael Schuman looks at previous iterations of Chinese foreign relations, and suggests that China won’t be pacifist and will push ‘its values’. See also – America wants to cut China out of the global tech supply chain,and is starting to ramp up its efforts to maintain dominance over growth markets (semiconductor chips, for example).

🎧💯 I spoke to Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, for the inaugural episode of the new season of the Exponential View podcast. We go under the hood of GPT-3, take a look at the future of artificial general intelligence, and discuss how Sam’s experience leading Y Combinator translates at OpenAI. I enjoyed this discussion—I wish I had had two more hours for it. Exponential View members will receive a transcript of our conversation next week.

Don’t forget to follow me on LinkedIn for more regular updates. 

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Azeem Azhar

Azeem Azhar

Exponential View (signup at


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