The People vs Tech: How the internet is killing democracy and how we save it (22nd May 2018)

The internet was meant to set us free; it seems to have done the opposite.

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.

Jamie will present his (essential) book and show 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.

Join the discussion and debate with our speaker as he describes how our fragile political system is being threatened by the digital revolution. The ticket price includes a copy of the book – this will be signed on the evening by Jamie.

Jamie Bartlett

Jamie Bartlett is the author of The People Vs Tech, which examines the tensions between technology and democracy. He is also author of Radicals (2017) about political outsiders and The Dark Net (2014) about internet subcultures. He is director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the think-tank Demos, where and is also a regular commentator on national and international media outlets. He presented the two-part BBC documentary series ‘The Secrets of Silicon Valley’.