This article exposes two parallels related to big tech. One being, capitalism’s metamorphosis into techno-feudalism and the other being the failure to capture a share of our total economic value produced through our labor and or through our technological inputs. It must be re-emphasized that we create the value of a product, the masses have always been the creators of value, and consequently the destroyers as well.
“Wealth is still concentrated in the hands of a few powers whose wasteful economies are maintained by the exploitation of the labor…”
Fidel Castro, Former President of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1979
These words, enthusiastically emphasized by Fidel Castro during his speech in front of the United Nations in 1979, not only sum up inequality being attributed to the exploitation of powerful entities on their laboring class and their imperialist schematics, but also perhaps foreshadow, to a certain degree, capitalism’s evolution into techno-feudalism, as emphasized by former Finance Minister of Greece’s parliament, Yanis Varoufakis.
Yes, wealth is still concentrated in the hands of a few powers that be. Big tech, and consequently big banks whose means are to consolidate, further exploit the masses in a much larger and influential way and scale. Whom are the exploited? Simply anyone with a digital gadget or asset. Call it what you will, whether it be a cellular phone, laptop, and or television. Any device that connects to the internet that you own and utilize assumes you, the user, as simply data that can be extracted as information that big tech then utilizes to sell back to you. Thus, the free and voluntary input that we give to these devices, the postings, liking, and sharing of social media posts, the downloading of certain applications and abiding by their agreements, and the emergence of online shopping as well as artificial intelligence, further trains these cloud/data servers as it sells itself back to us, the creators of its increasingly growing economic value. Yet we, the creators of the economic value to these data sets, do not get a piece of the profit or “cake”, it ignores us and all goes to the profiteers and monopolists of big tech. This is mainly due to a majority of us lacking the knowledge of the extent of the economic value we actually create. One does not know of their limit until reached, and one does not know of their potential until met.
To dive into the concept of our failed capture or share of the extent of our total economic value that we produce, I offer you an example void of any technological jargon. I currently work for Nike Inc. as a Sales Associate. In our sales training meeting for the anticipation of our newly opened store front, it was emphasized to us that we should sign up as many non-Nike members as we can during each of our shifts. The signing up process entails prospects to create a Nike account with a legitimate email and then download the Nike app with the newly created account that was just made. It was lucidly emphasized to us that every new member “digitally” created was valued to be an additional $134 to the large American conglomerate. This provides the technology side of Nike many advantages. It was our job as sales associates to attempt to lure as many people in signing up. Now let’s say I succeeded in signing up 5 people for the day during my shift, which was nothing out of the ordinary. Apart from my hourly wage, I have created an additional $670 in value toward the conglomerate yet receive nothing from it. This highlights and demonstrates the core principle that this article asserts: the total economic value that we, the users of technology, produce are unrealized, fueling the cementation of big tech as monopolists, feudal lords and increases inequality.
Every time you search a query on Google, you train it. Google increases in value with every new search query. Despite searching for the query and essentially increasing Google’s value, you are not incentivized. Now, Google was founded in 1998, over the years it has transformed itself from just being a search engine application to selling its own Google Pixel phones. This exemplifies the monopolistic trend that the big players in big tech have taken. Their secret for growth? Simply put, the capitalization of the people’s ignorance on the extent of their total economic value.
X’s (formerly Twitter) newly implemented monetization plan is the path in the right direction in which more big tech companies should emulate.
Thus, this article exposes two parallels. One being, capitalism’s metamorphosis into techno-feudalism and the other being the failure to capture a share of our total economic value produced through our labor and or through our technological inputs. It must be re-emphasized that we create the value of a product, the masses have always been the creators of value, and consequently the destroyers as well.