Space-Cowboys: What Internet history tells us about the inevitable shortcomings of a tech-bro led Space Race

The new space race is now occurring among individual billionaires who have, to varying degrees, made their fortunes from internet technologies. And now they’re using the same language of hope, progress, and equal opportunity and applying it back to actual outer space. As scholars who research technology and society, we’ve heard these arguments before. This is the rhetoric that guided the development of another crucial technology that opened new possibilities to humanity: the internet. Yet, this overly utopian and naive view of technology’s ability to act as a great equalizer has left us with an unregulated communication infrastructure that perpetuates extractive data practices, rewards white supremacy through algorithmic amplification, and frequently exploits and harms the most vulnerable people in society. We should expect no different from technologies in space.

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Europe cannot afford to “shelter-in-place” on digital regulation

The EU should go beyond patching existing frameworks and bolstering effective enforcement. The increased use of AI systems in particular suggests that the EU’s regulatory vision must expand to include tech’s impact on discrimination and socioeconomic inequities. Rather than retreating or “sheltering in place,” now is the moment for the EU to translate “the new possible” of a post-pandemic world to its digital ambitions.

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