When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Brace Yourself For The Digital Counter-Revolution

The world has mostly embraced technological advances. But as fallout over the Facebook data-breach scandal suggests, the reaction could get nasty.

Testing virtual reality technology
Testing virtual reality technology
Jean-Marc Vittori


PARIS The revelations of data harvesting. The first fatal accident involving one of Uber's self-driving cars. European taxation of digital giants. Resistance against the digital revolution is growing, as evidenced most poignantly, perhaps, by reactions to the recent Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal.

The digital revolution is already changing tides. Initially, it had promised a better world, where knowledge and education would be free and accessible to all and the consumer would have an infinite range of choices. Businesses, for their part, would have the liberty to organize themselves as they see fit, and individuals would become better informed, better organized and better cared for. While this image is still true to a certain extent, the downsides of the revolution are looking increasingly grim.

Tomorrow, it could choose to kill you.

The circulation and processing of data at a historical scale is not only a sign of immense progress but also a source of major concern. As the digital revolution advances, we discover not only the progress it can make, but also the damage it can cause well beyond what the best science fiction writers had anticipated.

"Big brother is watching you," George Orwell wrote 70 years ago. Today, Big Brother creeps further into personal affairs and looms over your online purchases and votes. Tomorrow, it could choose to kill you, by deciding, for example, that you are too old to receive medical care, or that it would be better to direct your car into a ravine than into the school bus bearing down on you.

A big data warning from a pole in Lyon, France Photo: ev

This year at the World Economic Forum, which has long been passionate about information technology, the digital industry was compared to that of the... tobacco industry. The aversion is only made stronger by the vast breadth that digital technology covers and its impact on society as a whole on both an intimate and global scale.

Our personal data is manipulated to convince us to buy and even vote, putting our identities at stake. Algorithms make choices that are so opaque that they inevitably trigger suspicious discrimination, threatening principles of justice. Competition is jostled by the emergence of new players. Digital giants have designed their architecture to legally minimize their taxes, thus weakening the state. In the meantime, automation is advancing and will displace tens of millions of jobs. Ultimately, it is the social contract that risks being swept away.

The digital revolution goes much further than the automobile revolution.​

It remains to be seen how exactly a digital revolt will play out. Perhaps companies will be knocked off their pedestals or disappear in a storm. It's tempting to draw parallels to the way people oppose globalization. After all, both have had similar effects. Employment rates, for example, have been affected so much that economists often find it difficult to distinguish which revolution to blame.

Politically, though, they are two different beasts. A candidate can win an election by promising to close the borders, but she will struggle to do so by promising to ban the iPhone.

In many ways, the path of the digital industry seems to resemble that of the auto industry. At first, the auto industry's rise was a tremendous lever of progress and freedom, but gradually we discovered its negative effects. More than a million men, women and children die every year on the road and tens of millions more lives are shortened by vehicle emissions. In fact, the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is threatening the entire planet.

Although automobile manufacturers have worked to improve the safety of their vehicles, they haven't shown much interest in limiting the damage caused by their products. It was the government that imposed laws requiring seat belts, setting speed limits, creating standards for greenhouse gas emission, and limiting access to city centers.

In the end, the digital revolution goes much further than the automobile revolution. It is nothing less than the most powerful economic engine of the 21st century. And so it will be even more difficult to contain. Get ready to duck, because the fight is just getting started.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Profound And Simple Reason That Negotiations Are Not An Option For Ukraine

The escalation of war in the Middle East and the stagnation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive have left many leaders in the West, who once supported Ukraine unequivocally, to look toward ceasefire talks with Russia. For Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Piotr Andrusieczko argues that Ukraine simply cannot afford this.

Photo of Ukrainian soldiers in winter gear, marching behind a tank in a snowy landscape

Ukrainian soldiers ploughing through the snow on the frontlines

Volodymyr Zelensky's official Facebook account
Piotr Andrusieczko


KYIVUkraine is fighting for its very existence, and the war will not end soon. What should be done in the face of this reality? How can Kyiv regain its advantage on the front lines?

It's hard to deny that pessimism has been spreading among supporters of the Ukrainian cause, with some even predicting ultimate defeat for Kyiv. It's difficult to agree with this, considering how this war began and what was at stake. Yes, Ukraine has not won yet, but Ukrainians have no choice for now but to continue fighting.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

These assessments are the result of statements by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, and an interview with him in the British weekly The Economist, where the General analyzes the causes of failures on the front, notes the transition of the war to the positional phase, and, critically, evaluates the prospects and possibilities of breaking the deadlock.

Earlier, an article appeared in the American weekly TIME analyzing the challenges facing President Volodymyr Zelensky. His responses indicate that he is disappointed with the attitude of Western partners, and at the same time remains so determined that, somewhat lying to himself, he unequivocally believes in victory.

Combined, these two publications sparked discussions about the future course of the conflict and whether Ukraine can win at all.

Some people outright predict that what has been known from the beginning will happen: Russia will ultimately win, and Ukraine has already failed.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest