In 2018, Steve Keen wrote a seminal book Can we avoid another financial crisis? The Australian economist argued that the main cause of the 2008 financial meltdown was excessive private debt and an economy that was too credit-based. He concluded that the impact of these crises could be greatly reduced if political leaders were willing to use the state’s ability to create money to reduce excessive post-crisis private debt. In substance, he rejected the fatalism that these were inevitable. In his opinion, financial crises are only inevitable if you want to maintain a monetary system based on private banking.
A very forceful approach against fatalism is the one adopted by Ricardo Ruiz de Querol in the face of the growing inequality generated by new technologies and their gigantic corporations. in his book It is not unavoidable. A plea for alternative digital futures (Economic Alternatives) supports a double proposal: “A deployment of new digital technologies outside all social control carries the risk of evolving towards a digitalocracy. But also that this future is not inevitable. A fundamental text to understand the development and impact of digital transformation. His thesis is that technological revolutions are not an inevitable consequence of the evolution of technologies, but are the result of social production. That is to say, they are social revolutions, in which objectives of wealth and power are determining factors.
Doctor in Physical Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and with extensive experience in information technology, Ruiz de Querol recognizes the virtues of digital, but advocates an alternative development. He recalls that initially the internet was sold as an egalitarian and democratic tool, but that it has evolved in the opposite direction, now dominated by private companies with centralized powers out of control. He censures that the technological world is not “a territory ordered according to the dictates of morality, progress and the common good. On the contrary, it has favored an enormous concentration of wealth in companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple”.
As Farhad Manjoo has explained in New York Times, “the era of big technology companies is just beginning.” Microsoft’s value now exceeds two trillion dollars and Apple’s almost three, while the possibilities of implementing antitrust policies are fading.
Faced with this unforgiving reality, it’s not unavoidable advocates “rethinking the new social, legal and ethical framework in which to encompass the future of digital technologies”. The possibility of implementing alternatives is not only a question of voluntarism, but the author bases it on the findings of mathematicians such as Alan Turing, Kürt Godel and Claude Shannon, which he explicitly details. It is a rigorous investigation with a clearly constructive message. Inspired by the American anthropologist Margaret Mead, Ruiz de Querol believes that “not only small groups of committed thoughtful people can change the world, but, in fact, this is the only way to change it.”
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
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