Reijer Passchier: Alternatives need to be created for services of big tech companies
How can more people take ownership of technology? Underlying this question is the assumption that not enough people currently own technology. According to Reijer Passchier, Associate Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law in Leiden, and Professor of Digitisation and the Democratic Rule of Law at the Open University, this is certainly true.
'The kind of concentration of power we are currently witnessing in relation to technology is never wise,' Passchier stresses. 'We have seen that often enough throughout history. Look at today's most important technologies, such as artificial intelligence and big data. They are mainly owned by giant US companies. These companies determine what that technology looks like now and what it should look like in the future, by investing, or not investing, in something. The biggest decisions are taken by only a few people, and these people are not focused on public interests, but on private interests: they want to become rich and powerful.’
As a result, says Reijer Passchier, important democratic values are coming under pressure. ‘The big decisions are not taken in Brussels or The Hague, but in the boardrooms of Silicon Valley, or even in the minds of individual tech entrepreneurs.’