The Good Robot

Michael Kwet on Big Tech's Colonial Takeover

February 21, 2023 Dr Kerry Mackereth and Dr Eleanor Drage
The Good Robot
Michael Kwet on Big Tech's Colonial Takeover
Show Notes

We all know about Microsoft Excel and Outlook, but did you know about the kinds of tech they develop in and sell to the Global South? These include escape management system for jails, police cars inbuilt with sensor data, and software that supports facial recognition systems. To tell us more about this, we talk to Dr Michael Kwet, a visiting fellow of the Information Society project at Yale Law School and a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Social Change at the University of Johannesburg. His extensive investigation of how Global South economies are increasingly dependent on Big Tech companies like Microsoft shows that they get bad deals when they hand over valuable raw materials and labour. They end up seeing little of the vast wealth that Big Tech amasses through this unfair exchange. His work has focuses on South Africa, where economies, schools and prisons rely on Microsoft software and services.