The geopolitics of Big Tech and the Covid crisis

This was a succinct summary by Laurie Macfarlane of the emerging interface between a US national security apparatus seeking to ward off the growing power of China and a Big Tech apparatus in Silicon Valley seeking to ward off the threat of regulation. His excellent essay shows how this will become more significant in the coming months and years because of the real time US decline we’re seeing in a botched response to the Covid crisis and the likely reliance of the American state upon Big Tech to get the situation under control:

In a speech in December last year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos warned American military leaders that the US risks losing its superiority in key technologies to China – an advantage which has long been the bedrock of the country’s military might.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum, the world’s wealthiest individual said: “Do you really want to plan for a future where you have to fight with someone who is as good as you are? This is not a sporting competition. You don’t want to fight fair.”

To a delighted audience, Bezos said that America’s data giants had a duty to make their technology available to the Pentagon to ensure that “freedom and democracy” are preserved. While the kingpins of Silicon Valley once viewed China as the next big market to be exploited, they now increasingly view it as a systemic threat to be contained.