Can we use technology better? Should we be using it at all? Is there a way to control our tech, or will that limit us in the long run? Big Tech is a podcast dedicated to these questions, and more.
- Format: Podcast series
- Year: Since 2019
- Listen on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Pocket Casts
Made up of in-depth conversations with some fascinating guests from the tech world, Big Tech is a thought-provoking listen that encourages its audience to question and investigate the way we engage with technology every day.
Taylor Owen is an expert host and his knowledge and experience allow him to contribute meaningfully to each discussion. He boasts an impressive CV, as a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation, the Beaverbrook Chair of Media, Ethics and Communications, the director of the Centre for Media, Technology, and Democracy, and an associate professor at the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University.
He knows his stuff, but beyond that, the conversations are evidence that he is always looking to learn more and engage constructively.
Owen is not afraid to disagree with his guests. While he is always respectful of varying opinions and works through the topics deeply, he presents alternate points of view and experiences. In a world that is so deeply polarised, Owen’s attention to the nuance that exists in such complex discussions is a breath of fresh air. This approach also holds the attention of the listener and encourages them to engage with the topic, instead of passively listening, and the variety of guests and viewpoints means that even if you don’t agree with everything you hear, there is space for open discussion.
The podcast engages both directly and indirectly with the theme of free speech and what that means in a world of technology.
In an episode with Catherine McKenna, the Canadian former minister of environment and climate change shares how online trolls have threatened her own life and her ability to do her job. McKenna postulates that online hate is allowed to thrive on social media unchecked under the guise of freedom of speech, and yet its vicious nature inhibits the freedom of others who are trying to fight through misinformation.
And in McKenna’s line of work, where conversations about the climate crisis are vital to activate citizens and persuade policymakers to make meaningful change, the barrage of trolling makes these conversations extremely difficult to have. McKenna and Owen’s discussion takes listeners through how technology does not always show the full story or perspective and poses questions of how technology needs to be addressed before we can address topics like climate change (or any other area rampant in misinformation).
On the topic of misinformation and online hate, another episode worth listening to features Bishop Steven Croft on how society needs to develop ethical and moral codes when it comes to technology, instead of letting our technology define right and wrong for us. Because ultimately, society needs to be in control of technology, it should not control us.
While there is no doubt that Croft’s perspective is theological and stems from his Christianity, the episode digs deeper into the topic and will be interesting to a more secular audience; his views on how technology needs to be approached – and the importance of morals and ethics – are thought-provoking, to say the least.
“I don’t think morals and ethics can be manufactured out of nothing or rediscovered. And if we don’t have morality and ethics as the heart of the algorithms when they’re being crafted, then the unfairness will be even greater than they otherwise have been,” he says.
Ultimately, Croft believes that relationships are at the heart of humanity, and technology is a wonderful tool to foster connection, but it is also changing the way people relate to each other – which does not have to be a bad thing, it all depends on how we go forward.
Whether you are a tech-lover or prefer life off the social media grid, this podcast is a fascinating glimpse into what the world is thinking, saying, and doing about technology and is sure to be a thought-provoking listen. We’re not done listening yet either, and next up on our list is The Entrenched Colonialism of Tech. DM/ML