Episode

8/4 The Rise Of Digital Oligarchy w/ Jillian York

August 4, 2022

Emma hosts Jillian York, Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to discuss her recent book Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism. First, Emma dives into Pelosi’s return from Taiwan as tensions between the US and China heighten, alongside Krysten Sinema’s emergence once again as a central vote in the Senate. Then, Jillian York joins as she immediately dives into her perspective on the libertarian “free-speech” tech oligarchs after decades of studying them, exploring how they unite in their horrendous treatment of marginalized communities with Zuckerberg’s “Meta” at the very pinnacle. Next, Jillian walks Emma through the specific manner through which Meta’s marginalization blurs the boundaries of “free speech” for non-US nations, with the active endorsement of violent and neo-nazi posting from members of the Ukrainian army contrasted by the complete and violent crackdown on any documentation of human rights abuses in Syria. Expanding on this, they tackle the view of tech and algorithms as apolitical, diving into how tech censorship works with very specific biases around race, sexual orientation, nationality, and gender. Next, Jillian discusses the value-neutrality of content mediation, as something without any inherent political nature, the absurdity of the concept that “changing where we draw the line of acceptability” is authoritarian censorship, and why, particularly when it comes to nation-specific extremism, censorship is genuinely socially helpful. After a conversation on her experiences with the role of big tech censorship in the Arab Spring, how authoritarians take their censorship blueprints from the west, and how big tech interacts with imperial states, they wrap up the interview with the failures of de-platforming and what the future of content moderation can look like.

And in the Fun Half: Emma is joined by Brandon Sutton and Matt Binder as they watch a New York congressional debate in which Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler tackle the age-old question in New York politics, “is Biden going to run again?” before Dave from Jamaica discusses degrowth and the romanticization of an anarcho-primitivist mindset. They also parse through the first ad for Bari Weiss’ University of Austin, as they exalt the intellectual honesty, intellectual diversity, and intellectual intellectuality on display at this 2-week intensive school, take on the beautiful fiasco of the Alex Jones trial and his lawyers’ incredible fumble, and Jordan from Hawaii talks being black pilled and the importance of interpersonal communication. Plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out Jillian’s book: https://www.versobooks.com/books/4034-silicon-values

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