‘This book could not have come at a better moment... The People Vs Tech makes clear that there is still time – just – for us to take back control.’ - Camilla Cavendish, Sunday Times
The internet was meant to set us free.
Tech has radically changed the way we live our lives. But have we unwittingly handed too much away to shadowy powers behind a wall of code, all manipulated by a handful of Silicon Valley utopians, ad men, and venture capitalists? And, in light of recent data breach scandals around companies like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, what does that mean for democracy, our delicately balanced system of government that was created long before big data, total information and artificial intelligence? In this urgent polemic, Jamie Bartlett argues that through our unquestioning embrace of big tech, the building blocks of democracy are slowly being removed. The middle class is being eroded, sovereign authority and civil society is weakened, and we citizens are losing our critical faculties, maybe even our free will.
The People Vs Tech is an enthralling account of how our fragile political system is being threatened by the digital revolution. Bartlett explains that by upholding six key pillars of democracy, we can save it before it is too late. We need to become active citizens; uphold a shared democratic culture; protect free elections; promote equality; safeguard competitive and civic freedoms; and trust in a sovereign authority. This essential book shows that the stakes couldn’t be higher and that, unless we radically alter our course, democracy will join feudalism, supreme monarchies and communism as just another political experiment that quietly disappeared.
"Highly readable... [Bartlett] is surely right to argue that our futures will be shaped by how the winners and losers respond to the changes unleashed by technology, as much as by the technology itself" (John Thornhill Financial Times)
"A timely new book by Jamie Bartlett of Demos, The People Vs Tech, spells out why it's vital that politicians seize this moment to reform our attitudes to technology" (Helen Lewis New Statesman)
"A fascinating, though sometimes sobering and even frightening, journey" (The Quint)
"Fascinating" (Amber Rudd MP)
"Remarkable" (David Anderson QC)
"This book could not have come at a better moment, when we are all in the grip of the endlessly unfolding story of Cambridge Analytica... when it comes to the workings of Big Tech, the blogger Jamie Bartlett clearly knows his stuff... He brings home, chillingly, the menacing passivity of algorithms... I enjoyed this book. It made me think... And The People Vs Tech makes clear that there is still time – just – for us to take back control." (Camilla Cavendish Sunday Times)
"A provocative report on the “looming dystopia” of the digital revolution and its effects on democracy... [Bartlett] meticulously scrutinizes the social and political consequences of our increasingly digitized world and how its control compromises societal frameworks and individual freedoms… His renunciation of tech’s tightening stronghold is consistently cogent, as is the viable, counterbalancing arsenal of pragmatic solutions that he provides at the end of the book. Relevant, cautionary, prognosticative insights on the enduring digitization vs. democracy turf war." (Kirkus)