It’s not enough to break up Big Tech. We need to imagine a better alternative | Evgeny Morozov

Presenting tech companies as America’s greatest menace may appeal to voters, but it does little to chart an alternative futureAs Facebook all but pleads guilty to a severe form of data addiction, confessing its digital sins and promising to reinvent it…

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The digital hippies want to integrate life and work – but not in a good way

Data firms such as the rapidly expanding WeWork hope to blur the line between home and office. That won’t be any help to staff

The digital turn of contemporary capitalism, with its promise of instantaneous, constant communication, has done little to rid us of alienation. Our interlocutors are many, our entertainment is infinite, our pornography loads fast and arrives in high-definition – and yet our yearnings for authenticity and belonging, however misguided, do not seem to subside.

Beyond the easy fixes to our alienation – more Buddhism, mindfulness and internet detox camps – those in the digital avant-garde of capitalism have toyed with two solutions. Let’s call them the John Ruskin option and the De Tocqueville option. The former extended the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement, with its celebration of craftsmanship and romantic, artisanal labour by Ruskin, William Morris and their associates, into the realm of 3D printers, laser cutters and computerised milling machines.

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Silicon Valley has been humbled. But its schemes are as dangerous as ever

Sex scandals, rows over terrorism, fears for its impact on social policy: the backlash against Big Tech has begun. Where will it end?

Just a decade ago, Silicon Valley pitched itself as a savvy ambassador of a newer, cooler, more humane kind of capitalism. It quickly became the darling of the elite, of the international media, and of that mythical, omniscient tribe: the “digital natives”. While an occasional critic – always easy to dismiss as a neo-Luddite – did voice concerns about their disregard for privacy or their geeky, almost autistic aloofness, public opinion was firmly on the side of technology firms.

Silicon Valley was the best that America had to offer; tech companies frequently occupied – and still do – top spots on lists of the world’s most admired brands. And there was much to admire: a highly dynamic, innovative industry, Silicon Valley has found a way to convert scrolls, likes and clicks into lofty political ideals, helping to export freedom, democracy and human rights to the Middle East and north Africa. Who knew that the only thing thwarting the global democratic revolution was capitalism’s inability to capture and monetise the eyeballs of strangers?

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We all have the ‘right to disconnect’ – but only some of us can afford it | Evgeny Morozov

Laws protecting workers from employers’ out-of-hours emails ignore the fact that, for many, switching off is not an option

The global race to tame and civilise digital capitalism is on. In France, the “right to disconnect” – requiring companies of a certain size to negotiate how their employees handle out-of-hours work and availability – came into force on 1 January. In 2016 a similar bill was submitted to the South Korean parliament. Earlier this month a congressman in the Philippines introduced another such measure, receiving the support of an influential local trade union. Many companies – from Volkswagen to Daimler – have already made similar concessions, even in the absence of national legislation.

What should we make of this new right? Will it join “the right to be forgotten” to become yet another inventive measure that aspires to compensate ordinary users for the unpleasant excesses of digital capitalism? Or will it simply leave things as they stand, giving us false hopes without addressing the fundamentals of the global – and increasingly digital – economy?

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Silicon Valley was going to disrupt capitalism. Now it’s enhancing it

The tech giants thought they would beat old businesses but the health and finance industries are using data troves to become more, not less, resilient

The chances that, in a few years’ time, people will be able to receive basic healthcare without interacting with a technology company became considerably smaller after recent announcements of two intriguing but not entirely unpredictable partnerships.

One is between Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline. The two have agreed to form a $715m company to focus on the new field of bioelectronics, which involves developing miniature electrical implants capable of treating a number of chronic diseases.

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