Editors have selected this summary that has been condensed and edited for clarity. No matter who you are in life nothing has influenced you personally and your community more than technology in the last ten years. From organizing protests to self-driving cars, from our rights to privacy to markets and businesses worldwide, from seemingly insignificant memes or shows to influencers and platforms that were tied to elections, technology of the last decade has been a major part of who we are today.
January 12, 2010 – Google pulls out of China
Prompted by a sophisticated Chinese cyber-attack, aimed at stealing trade secrets and computer codes, the search giant pulls out of the country. Google’s decision to withdraw from China reshapes the global internet, with China developing its own closed-off version of the web. The military was suspected of being behind the hacking of a civilian operation. It became the new international norm.
January 27, 2010 – Steve Jobs unveils the iPad
Following the iPhone’s success, Steve Jobs introduces Apple’s next mobile computing device, a touch-screen tablet. He returned to Apple in 1997, Refocusing on the Mac and saving Apple by rethinking the computer as a multi-touch gadget and a human interface design. In parallel to all this, iPod had taken off. Knowing that carrying one device for music and one for talking would not last long, the Apple team set out to solve the issue of creating a phone that could also replace iPod. One important item was the price, which also stun the competitors. It was $499.
June 10, 2010 – Social networks fuel the Arab Spring
The Arab Spring is a high point about the organizing power of technology. A Facebook page, “We Are All Khaled Said,” named for an Egyptian killed by the police, becomes an icon of the movement against the region’s autocratic governments.
On the first three days, the “We Are All Khaled Said” page had 100,000 likes. The resignation of Tunisia’s president was a turning point in the Arab Spring while in Egypt, there was a call for a revolution. The government closed Facebook for a couple of days but couldn’t afford to keep it closed, because of business. When you turn off the internet right now, you’re turning off the economy. There is no system that can survive anymore without the internet.
Oct. 6, 2010 – Instagram explodes onto the scene
Two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs start a photo-sharing app that quickly became a sensation, spawning thousands of subcultures and “Kardashian selfies”. It was intended to be a multiplayer game but it became a check-in app. “I’m here, and here’s a photo.” It sounds like a small detail, but actually it made the whole product way more interesting.
October 9, 2010 – Self-driving cars hit the road
Google announces that it is testing a fleet of autonomous vehicles. The very first self-driving route was from Google to the Shoreline Amphitheater parking lot. Police actually pulled them over in multiple occasions. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders, spent many hours scoping out what looked like the most difficult places to drive on the planet. It was Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles; it was Lombard Street; it was Market Street; it was all the bay bridges; it was through Tiburon and around Lake Tahoe. The very first course had probably every complication you could imagine. You are on a mountain road. You are driving very narrow lanes. You are driving in city traffic with stop signs and traffic lights and tunnels.
March 30, 2011 – Tech companies get off easy after privacy violations
Google agrees to settle federal charges that it used deceptive practices in the rollout of a social network called Buzz. Later that year, Facebook agrees to settle wider charges that it also deceived users. In 2010, in an effort to directly compete with Facebook, Google tried to roll out Buzz. They made some serious mistakes. Google users who had signed in were basically encouraged to go to Buzz. If they went to Buzz, information like their contacts would be disclosed. Google did a good job deflecting it by being contrite. A lot of people were seriously impacted. In some ways, what Facebook did was even worse.
Facebook was all about sharing information and allowing third-party apps to have access to its site, to make it more interesting and promote growth. And they were very successful. The problem was the user was told that the app would only be harvesting data needed for the functionality of the app, when in fact the apps took lots of personal information. Facebook was acutely aware of what was going on.
October 4, 2011 – Siri says Hello and a lot more
Apple introduces a new way to control iPhones with speech. Apple’s personal assistant, Siri, debuted with the iPhone 4S. Usage started going viral surpassing all marketing expectations. The usage spikes were overwhelming because speech recognition is a challenge. Ultimately, it showed the world two things it didn’t know before: First was that it was possible. The challenge of being able to understand speech – companies at the time, Google and others, did not think it could be done at that scale. The second thing was that users would like it, that this was an appealing interface concept.
October 5, 2011 – Tim Cook era starts at Apple
Steve Jobs, the company’s visionary co-founder, dies at age 56 of complications from pancreatic cancer. Tim Cook, his longtime no. 2, becomes the public face of the company. When one sat in a meeting with Steve, he dominated, and he would tell you to shut up and let someone he wanted to hear from talk. Tim was completely the opposite. He listened to everybody no matter what you had to say, and he would come back to challenge them. There was a lot more openness and freedom to bring new ideas to the surface.
May 22, 2012 – Lyft grows a mustache
Drivers for the ride-hailing start-up place pink, furry facial hair on their cars. In cities across the country, they become a conspicuous symbol of the arrival of the gig economy.
The moustache was retired, the color pink lived on – and it does today. The original tagline for Lyft was “Your friend with a car.” Ten years ago, no one believed this was going to happen.
May 18, 2012 – Facebook goes public
Eight years after its birth in a Harvard University dormitory, the social network raises $16 billion in an initial public offering. Mark Zuckerberg did want to wait to go public. Facebook didn’t really need the notoriety and the validation that going public adds. It was already a household name. Users certainly knew it. There wasn’t going to be a coming-out party in the way that other companies get when they go public. The adulation in the press and adulation from users fueled the expectation that Facebook could do everything right. A few days before the I.P.O., concern over the move to mobile came out. It was not clear that Facebook had yet figured out the optimal product to offer on mobile.
September 9, 2012 – Google Glass walks the runway
The designer Diane von Furstenberg’s spring-summer fashion show features models in a special accessory: futuristic spectacles that can record video and display data. The devices are a pet project of the Google co-founder Sergey Brin. The glasses made their debut at the fashion show of Diane von Furstenberg, who said “This is technology. You can’t look at them as glasses.”
June 5, 2013 – Edward Snowden blows the whistle on the N.S.A.
The Guardian newspaper begins to publish articles revealing secret government surveillance programs, based on classified documents stolen from the National Security Agency. The source was Edward J. Snowden, a former government contractor. He reported that in the course of his work, he discovered that the abuse of secrecy privileges was corrupting the incentives that were meant to ensure fair play by those who wielded the most power in society. Since he had sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution as a condition of his employment with the government, he said that he felt obligated to do what he could to reveal it. But because the problem was broader than one single particular surveillance program, this meant that he also had to blow the whistle on the larger system of secrecy. His hope was to help the public to understand what was going on, he said.
December 9, 2013 – Protesters block the Google bus
Frustrated with big tech companies’ domination of San Francisco’s economy and culture, activists obstruct the charter buses that shuttle workers from the city to Silicon Valley. The tactic worked. Most of the tech campuses are an hour, an hour and a half away, so the buses were the one thing that activists had access to that they can physically take action and block.
August 5, 2013 – Jeff Bezos buys The Washington Post
The founder and chief executive of Amazon, buys the newspaper for $250 million – giving one of the country’s richest people a powerful perch at the top of traditional media. The history of media is filled with billionaires and titans and industrialists who, at least with respect to newspapers in the 20th century, were in it for the business, in it for the buck, but also to curry favor too, to run an editorial page that would align with its business interest. When the internet came, it became a much less optimal business.
November 2, 2013 – Red-hot start-ups get a nickname: Unicorns
Aileen Lee, a tech investor at Cowboy Ventures, coins a term with a blog post titled “Welcome to the Unicorn Club: Learning from Billion-Dollar Startups.” “Unicorns” quickly caught on. The psychology of being a unicorn had power. It was easier to market the company to recruits, business partners and new investors. At the time there were only 40. Today, there are over 500, so the term seems less pertinent.
April 2, 2014 -TikTok plays its first notes
A lip-syncing app called Musical.ly debuts, quickly attracting a huge and youthful audience. The app is later bought by the Chinese social giant ByteDance and becomes known as TikTok. Initially, Musical.ly had nothing to do with music and entertainment. We built the company to do something revolutionary for education, such as an online course as short as possible, three to four minutes. Lesson from the failure was to build a community where users are generating the content, only a few seconds. The logic is very similar to Instagram, in several ways. For Musical.ly, it’s like making music as a filter. Everyone can create interesting enough content based on music, just like everyone can post interesting enough photos using filters. There is a chart that ranks the influencers. And I remember checking it and thinking, “Why am I not on the top? What do I have to do to get to the top?
April 6, 2014 – ‘Silicon Valley’ premieres in Silicon Valley
A biting satire of the technology industry debuts on HBO. The tech companies after Season 1 said that they liked the show where everybody only says, ‘We’re making the world a better place.’
May 13, 2014 – The ‘right to be forgotten’ becomes law
Europe’s highest court rules that people in the region can demand that Google delete search results about them if those results are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.” Mr. Joaquín Muñoz, a lawyer who filed the original “right to be forgotten” case for a Spanish citizen, said that back then there was no certainty about what a citizen had to do if he or she found information on the internet about themselves that was harmful, or not true, or obsolete. It led him to write an article, “How to Delete Personal Data from Google.” When his client brought the case to the law firm, they went to both Google and the newspaper that had published an item that he wanted removed. Both replied that they didn’t consider themselves responsible. So they requested the protection of the Spanish Data Protection Agency, the A.E.P.D. They gave the ruling, then came the appeals, and then the final procedure before the European Court of Justice. It was on the front page of almost all the newspapers and in every TV channel. Thanks to the ruling, the right to be forgotten is included in the General Data Protection Regulation, with common rules for 747 million people all over Europe. It made people more aware of the value of their data and the benefit that large companies make of the information they generate on the internet or social media. The ruling was one of the first to set limits on large technology companies which seemed untouchable at the time.
September 19, 2014 – Alibaba goes public
The Chinese e-commerce giant lists its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in one of the biggest-ever initial public offerings, signaling the rise of China’s internet companies. The apartment where Alibaba was founded was in a new complex in Hangzhou. 2014 was a very good time for Alibaba to go public — it was two years before the election of the current president of the United States, and only two years into President Xi Jinping’s rule.
October 9, 2014 – Gamergate shows the internet’s dark side
An amorphous online movement called Gamergate, an ostensible protector of “the historic culture of video games,” takes a disturbing turn. After Brianna Wu, a developer, posts a series of mocking tweets, she is subjected to a terrifying harassment campaign. Brianna Wu wrote a piece in Polygon called “No Skin Thick Enough” about what it was like to be a woman in the video game industry and to get nonstop harassment. Gamergate eventually went after her for standing up for the women who work in games. She got death threats as did her family. The police and F.B.I. got involved. According to Ms. Wu “There is an entire generation of people who base their identity on games. People who wear T-shirts with a Nintendo or an Xbox or an NES controller. It’s like tribal markings. In the aftermath of Gamergate, there was no shortage of people and institutions swearing up and down that things were going to change.”
November 2, 2014 #Alexfromtarget shoots to stardom
Alex Lee, 16, is at work at the Eldorado Parkway SuperTarget in Frisco, Texas, when an admirer snaps his photo and posts it online. It immediately takes off and becomes a huge meme and a viral sensation.
Social media influencers were approached by people with business ideas to take advantage of the followers. One of the suggestions was a DigiTour.
November 24, 2014 North Korea hacks Sony Pictures
The movie studio’s system is penetrated by a group that American officials concluded was a front for Kim Jong-un’s regime. The country appeared to be retaliating for a Sony comedy about an assassination attempt against the dictator in the film “The Interview”.
Sony Pictures canceled the theatrical release of “The Interview,” a movie about a plot to kill North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, after a hacking attack. It brought to public light what a major cyber attack could look like. In a first, and very harsh, way, it also demonstrated the capabilities of the North Koreans while putting a spotlight on what should or should not be on a company’s network, whether it’s health care data or emails. No one really understood how damaging or difficult the situation was. The attack had eerie similarities to the hack of the Democratic National Committee in 2016.
March 27, 2015 – Ellen Pao loses her suit against Kleiner Perkins
A jury in San Francisco rejects gender discrimination claims made by Ellen Pao, a junior partner at Silicon Valley’s, most famous venture capital firm. Prefiguring the #MeToo movement, the case draws attention to the lack of gender diversity in tech. The story was always about how the venture capital was trying to change the world for the better, and about it being a meritocracy – that was the narrative in 2012 when the suit was filed. V.C. funding to woman-led companies increased in 2019 to a paltry 2.8 percent. Only 12 percent of V.C. investing partners are women. Less than 5 percent of V.C. investing partners are black or Latinx. At Kleiner, the publicity from the case damaged the facade of meritocracy and changed the perception of their contribution though the firm is still successful in raising money.
June 28, 2015 – Google tags black people as ‘gorillas’
Jacky Alciné, a software engineer in Brooklyn, uploads pictures of himself and a friend to Google’s new service for image-storing photos and videos. The software labels the images “gorillas”. In efforts to fix the issue, they just eliminated the tag “gorillas” entirely. It’s hard to undo data. There is input from a bunch of sources, and you don’t know how the bad data got in, so you’d have to do a lot of tracing and auditing and rolling back. For Google, it’s not cost efficient to do all that for one complain. Beyond a passive apology, they could have captured more photos. The labeling technology is ridiculously amazing, at the component level.
July 15, 2015 -Amazon invents a shopping holiday
Amazon begins Prime Day, a shopping holiday geared toward its members, during the summer sales lull, reshaping the retail calendar. “Project Piñata” as it was known was ‘a deal day’ and it timed with Amazon’s 20th birthday. The first concern was to source enough inventory and deals in July. Vendors and manufacturers are all keyed up to source terrific deals in November and December. It’s a different story to do a sale where there hasn’t been one before in July. The second concern was the technology behind the website. There is a lot of traffic in a successful sale, and it has to work. It was designed to have the largest selection of deals, more deals than Black Friday, which meant more than 10,000 deals. On the day itself, the events circled the globe starting with Japan and ending in the US. It is believed to have changed the course of retail.
October 15, 2015 – Theranos begins to unravel
The Wall Street Journal publishes an expose of the medical startup. Founded by Elizabeth Holmes, it claimed to have developed technology that could run more than 200 different diagnostic blood tests using a few drops of blood. One of the main modifications they had made is that they diluted the blood to create more volume so that the Siemens machine that was used would accept it. It was a medical fraud. This was a company that had gone out and put public health in jeopardy. The mechanical engineer had been trying to get information to the company’s leadership that the device embedded in University of Tennessee oncology blood trials was defective. After the article is published,Ms. Elizabeth Holmes denies wrongdoing. It took the actions of the two main health regulators to make people realize that whistleblower had gotten the facts right. The F.D.A. and C.M.S. – the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – both launched inspections of the company’s facilities.
February 8, 2016 – India bans Facebook’s free apps
Regulators block the social network’s Free Basics program, a suite of apps that Facebook had hoped would expand internet access in the country and establish the company as a dominant platform. A comedy troupe called All India Bakchod simplified the concepts with a video. Free Basics was positioned as one entity that was impacting the freedom of the internet, and most importantly, calling it the internet when it wasn’t the internet. One site SavetheInternet.in directed people to send comments to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The video went viral. This was the first pushback against a Facebook product anywhere in the world at this scale. This was also Facebook’s first global public policy loss, where they went up against citizens. In some countries, Facebook is the internet and its algorithms end up prioritizing content. That is not necessarily good for democracy.
February 16, 2016 – A court orders Apple to unlock an iPhone
The Justice Department asks a federal court to order Apple to help unlock the encrypted iPhone of the gunman in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., setting off a battle of privacy versus security. The U.S. attorney’s office filed to get the judge to order Apple to unlock the phone. The standoff leads to a court order. In its statement, Apple says the court order would set a dangerous precedent and put the public’s privacy at risk.
The brand was on the line. There were calls for boycott. On the eve of a March hearing in the case, things turn.
A company came with a solution. The encryption issue is much more nuanced and more complicated than it has been portrayed. With this particular case, people felt like they had to choose a side.
March 9, 2016 – A.I. beats a champion at Go
DeepMind, an artificial intelligence lab owned by Google, puts AlphaGo, a machine it developed to play the ancient and complex game of Go, up against Lee Se-dol, the best Go player of the decade, the world champion.The matches were played in South Korea. It almost brought the country to a standstill.
April 8, 2016 – BuzzFeed blows up a watermelon
The website posts a Facebook Live video called “Watch us Explode this Watermelon one Rubber Band at a Time” The 45-minute video, featuring two BuzzFeed staff members in hazmat suits stretching 682 rubber bands around a watermelon until it bursts, is a viral sensation with nearly one million simultaneous viewers at its peak. After some initial experiment with one executives in a meeting, BuzzFeed developed a theory that people anticipating something and sharing something together was working. The watermelon was designed as a way of testing that theory. Facebook live had a hard time keeping the feed live because at that point it never had a live stream with that many concurrent. It was a more utopian time where people were more optimistic about the future and change, and the world transforming for the better. People coming together to share a moment that was completely nonpolitical, silly, fun, lighthearted, that was pretty typical of the time.
May 18, 2016 – Moore’s Law ends
The principle which refers to a prediction made in 1965 that engineers would pack twice as many transistors onto a computer chip every 18 months, slows. The end comes when Google starts building its own computer chip, called the TPU, because standard chips can no longer keep pace with the rise of artificial intelligence. The barriers that were tackled were coming to a fundamental limit since transistors are made of atoms.
That was a prediction that Stephen Hawking made during one of his visits to Silicon Valley. Somebody asked him what the fundamental limits would be. He said the velocity of light and the atomic nature of matter, both of which are fundamental. One complication is energy efficiency. That’s become a major limitation in our ability to build chips, particularly in the mobile space, because of battery life. Artificial intelligence is also speeding the end of Moore’s Law. The home speaker, whether it’s a Google Home or an Alexa or whatever, offers speech recognition. The best speech recognition in the world is based on machine learning. When Google adopted its “A.I. first” strategy, around eight years ago, we quickly did a computation that resulted in solutions to improve efficiency dramatically with TPU. The result is, you can get about a factor of 100 in terms of computational power per watt of power. That’s like giving you an extra seven years on Moore’s Law.
July 6, 2016 – Pokemon Go makes the real world a game
The app is an instant global hit. In an update of the old-fashioned scavenger hunt, players use augmented reality to capture creatures from the Pokemon video game franchise in the physical world. Rather than camping out in front of the TV, the creator turns to games that can be beneficial for the player, exploring the outsides and at the same time play a game. The full impact of the game’s popularity came to view quickly. Pokemon Go was the first digital game of any kind of scale that brought people together in the real world. It was self-propelling. It was a kind of real-world virality.
September 5, 2016 – A digital revolution through Mobiles
Reliance Jio, a mobile carrier created by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, begins offering free calls and 1.5 gigabytes of wireless data a day for $2 a month, opening the internet to hundreds of millions of Indians. The creators looked at the fundamental building block to the new economy. Reliance Jio offered free calls and huge amounts of wireless data for $2 a month in 2016. Jio spent six years building a 4G wireless network, including writing new apps, installing towers in rural areas and designing inexpensive new phones that worked with its technology. The device was priced at $10. In 171 days, the company had over 100 million subscribers, the fastest-growing company in any sector across any technology company anywhere in the world.
November 10, 2016 – Facebook helps sway the 2016 election
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, says the notion that the social network played a role in putting Donald J. Trump in the White House is “a pretty crazy idea”. “Russian agents are later found to have used Facebook to spread inflammatory posts. A dedicated threat intelligence team was tasked with tracking government activity on the platform that was meant to cause harm. In 2016 there was no team dedicated to disinformation. Neither the tech companies nor the American intelligence community had one. People saw his statement and saw that one of the richest people on earth was trying to wriggle out of his responsibility by making this claim that contradicted everything his company had previously said to politicians, advertisers and businesses about their ability to reach and sway people through Facebook.
February 27, 2017 – YouTube has a 1-billion-hour day
YouTube announces a milestone: People watched more than one billion hours of YouTube videos in a single day. Up until then, the visible currency of YouTube was views. That’s how creators measured consumption of their videos. It’s how users understood the popularity of a video. So the shift from views to watch time was about moving away from something that could create incentives like clickbaity thumbnails to something that was about satisfying users. There was a previous algorithm, and a new algorithm was introduced. In the end, the metric that mattered was total watch time. The direction in which people were being pushed did not matter because YouTube was monitoring the watch times. The challenge is how to live up to the responsibility of having such an influence on the world. The problem is that the recommendation engine that handles 70 percent of views on YouTube is flawed by design, say experts. For example, if the recommendation engine is not even able to understand that the earth is not flat, it’s 2,000 years backward. So why would we want this algorithm to handle all of our political information?
August 8, 2017 – Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor calls out Facebook
Roger McNamee, a onetime mentor to Facebook’s chief executive, publicly denounces the social network in an opinion article in USA Today for hurting democracy and spreading misinformation. McNamee began his career as a technology investor in 1982 and spent 34 years as a true believer in what technology could do to make the world a better place. He came to the realization that the same advertising tools that make marketers so successful on Facebook can be used to affect the outcome of an election. In his essay he says that he believes that the algorithms and business model of Facebook, as well as the culture, are allowing bad actors to harm innocent people. He had helped Mark keep the company independent, and for three years had been the advisor. He never expected to become an activist, an experience that he describes as ‘extremely depressing”.
September 26, 2017 – Fortnite sweeps the world
Epic Games releases the free-to-play Fortnite Battle Royale, an online video game in which 100 players compete to be the last one standing. It becomes a global phenomenon. It encouraged a lot of athletes and other artists to admit and show their love for gaming. A lot of them started to stream and play with other streamers. Before Fortnite, gaming was a multibillion-dollar industry, operating as a subculture. Over the last 10 years, especially with Fortnite, it became acceptable to be a gamer.
December 11, 2017 – Deepfakes stun the internet
News breaks of a video circulating on the internet that shows the “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot being intimate with her stepbrother. The video is not real; someone had used artificial intelligence to superimpose Ms. Gadot’s face on the body of a pornographic actress. In 2011, 2012, deep learning started taking off. The big event was, deep nets could recognize animals in photos. It took a few years until people started to make systems that could do the opposite: not take an image and recognize that it was a cat, but take the label “cat” and synthesize an image that looks like a cat — the inverse problem, making photos of really low-resolution faces. Very rapidly after that, face-swapping and deepfakes followed. The sudden attention catches researchers by surprise and the technology advanced so quickly right around those years. It was the release of an easy-to-use piece of code that made it so that the internet went wild with it. It raised concerns over the ownership over a public image as well as the issue of what is real and what is not.
December 17, 2017 – Bitcoin’s spike sets off a frenzy
The price of the cryptocurrency skyrockets to more than $20,000 on some exchanges before coming down to earth a few months later. On the one hand, it’s a huge gift because every time it happens, it gets another order of magnitude of people into the crypto ecosystem. On the other hand, it’s a distraction from the overall potential of what this can really be. It’s much more than just trading some new asset class.
March 17, 2018 – Cambridge Analytica scandal breaks
The New York Times and The Guardian publish articles about how the political data firm with links to Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign had harvested personal information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million people. Aleksandr Kogan, an academic who used a personality quiz to harvest Facebook data for Cambridge Analytica, was collecting the data as part of a project to generate predictions about people’s personalities and politics based on their pages “likes”. It turned out the data was not useful as far as predictive accuracy. Facebook banned Kogan and Wylie, and released a press statement alleging they had engaged in fraud. It opened up the floodgates. Tech giants had been running rampant for a decade, two decades, and now for the first time really people cared. Although Cambridge Analytica couldn’t do anything useful with the data it collected, the connection with the Trump campaign captured people’s imagination.
April 10-11, 2018 – Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress
Facebook’s chief executive answered questions before the Senate Commerce, Judiciary Committees and the House Energy and Commerce Committee about revelations that Cambridge Analytica had improperly used personal data from users’ profiles. It foreshadows other questioning of tech executives. Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook takes responsibility for its mistakes and will fix its problems.
May 25, 2018 – Europe shields personal data through GDPR
The European Union enacts the General Data Protection Regulations, which provides sweeping new rights to keep companies from collecting and sharing personal data without an individual’s consent. A European wide data protection law was in place since 1995, before the internet took off, pre smartphone and pre major apps and platforms that were to come in the ten to twenty years that followed. It did not include social media platforms. The law required upgrading to better regulate Big Tech. People moved their lives to the digital sphere, but they didn’t bring their rights with them. GDPR allows every individual to have the possibility to be the master of his or her privacy. In March 2018, when the Cambridge Analytica story broke, it really opened up the minds of the public, politicians and others to the clear dangers of the misuse of personal data. It was a real turning point. GDPR is an exercise of rebalancing power not only in terms of data protection, but also the harmful content of the digital industry — distributing terrorist content or child pornography or hate speech or disinformation that has the potential to distract societies and do public harm. GDPR is to be expanded abroad to Japan, Korea, in Latin America etc.
November 1, 2018 – Google employees walk out
About 20,000 Google workers stage protests over how the company has given multimillion-dollar payouts to a former top executive, Andy Rubin, and other senior employees accused of sexual harassment. A huge conversation erupted at Google. A weak management response causes the protesters to organize walkouts to make a statement. The idea of the walkout goes global. Each office had their own rally.
December 1, 2018 –Huawei Chief Financial Officer arrested
Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei and daughter of its founder, is arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia, while in transit at the airport. Her arrest by the Canadian authorities at the behest of the United States kicks off a tech Cold War with China. Few principals are willing to discuss so sensitive a topic on the record, but the event was reconstructed from court documents from Canadian immigration officials and law enforcement.
May 10, 2019 – Uber goes public
The ride-hailing giant’s initial public offering goes awry when its shares plunge on its first day of trading. It was an important financing point, providing cash for Uber to fund the future plans. Uber’s I.P.O. affected other unicorn I.P.O.s this year. It was a reminder to all: Public market investors care about good unit economics and a path to profitability.
May 31, 2019 – Antitrust regulators target Big Tech
News breaks that the Department of Justice is scrutinizing Google and whether it has used its power in anticompetitive ways, foreshadowing antitrust investigations against Big Tech companies by the Federal Trade Commission, dozens of states and Congress. It is views as the end of the long antitrust winter. After years of discussing whether Big Tech has gotten too powerful, things reached a breaking point this year. The first official action by federal and state agencies and the beginning of a national conversation, which is what antitrust does at its best, as to whether Big Tech is too powerful. There are many historical analogies. Antitrust is one way in which America has conversations about economic power and the size of individual companies. The original conversation on this topic surrounded Standard Oil in the 1870s through the 1890s, and that led to the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The first great trust-busting exercise, which was roughly the first 15 years of the 20th century, was much more extensive than what is on the table now. The Gilded Age concern was that nearly every industry had been monopolized. They went after almost every monopoly in the country, and they broke up many of them. Just like Standard Oil, there’s a sense they have a power beyond our imagination and tolerance. It comes not just from market power, but a power over the distribution of information. And from that, some apparent power over elections and how elections are contested. They have a particularly personal kind of power since they know more about you than anyone, including the federal government. It is almost unprecedented other than in totalitarian societies. Facebook’s acquisitions of its main competitors were exceptionally vulnerable to an antitrust challenge. Standard Oil was broken up because of its campaign to acquire its competitors. To revitalize the law, one place to start was Facebook.
June 13, 2019 – Google reaches ‘quantum supremacy’
The company achieves a technological feat that could allow new kinds of computers to do calculations at speeds that are inconceivable with conventional equipment. A quantum computer means that there is a possibility that there existed a more efficient way to do computations than what humanity had been doing for more than 2,000 years, since the invention of the abacus. At the time, it was only a theoretical possibility. To see it in our lifetime is revolutionary.
October 17, 2019 – Facebook won’t fact-check political ads
In a speech at Georgetown University, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, says his social network stands for free expression and that he will not fact-check for truth in political ads. As part of a series of conversations on democracy in the digital age, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gives a speech to an interested audience of students who wanted to know, from an ethical perspective, the company’s responsibility when bad actors used Facebook for acts of war, or genocide.
Note: The edited summary highlights the groundbreaking scale of innovations in technology and the social impact and outcome on humanity.
Source NYT https://nyti.ms/2Pqfkaf