Elon Musk demonstrates an almost anarchic disregard for tough rules and rules that bind other business leaders of his level. Tesla’s boss, who has previously faced regulators, has come under close scrutiny due to recent tweets about his proposed acquisition of Twitter. This has led to markets shifting in his favor, destroying billions of social media company value.
Legal experts are now debating whether it is possible to consider Mask’s tweets, which, according to the unusual scheme of disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission, rigged the deal in his favor (“Twitter”, anyone?). For Karen Jung, an interdisciplinary professor at the University of Birmingham, the SEC’s current easy approach, ostensibly to protect Tesla shareholders, is just one aspect of a disturbing phenomenon she calls “digital fascination”.
Companies like Uber, Meta and Twitter may turn the screws of our data-driven digital age, but Jung, who has advised the EU and other government bodies on digital governance, says many governments and regulators are too obsessed with them. In this way, they give these companies and their innovators regulatory rights that are not given to other sectors. “We have rules for disclosing information about the market, and I can’t come up with a fundamental objection to excluding Mask from those rules,” she says, referring to it as a form of digital exclusivity that goes hand in hand with digital fascination. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long proven himself able to bypass regulators, although he has softened his stance recently.
She adds: “If the head of a large pharmaceutical company was an outcast player, you would know that investing in this company could bring you a very high return, but also that it will be volatile and you may have to suffer. Why do these considerations not apply to the technical space? Why is Tesla too big or important to fail? ”
Jung coined the phrase “digital charm” to describe the fairy tale that is commonly associated with digital innovation: that technological advances solve all of society’s problems while creating innumerable wealth without infringing on personal rights and privacy.
The spell, she said, is supported by three illusory principles: a digital solution or a belief that digital networking technologies can immediately meet any societal need and solve any problem even in the absence of evidence; the doctrine of the absence of bad consequences, which emphasizes the advantages and diminishes or ignores the disadvantages; and unlimited innovation as a fundamental right. This last point encourages society to cultivate an almost romantic devotion to the idea of ingenious eccentrics, not restrained by annoying books of rules.
This is the third principle, reminiscent of Mask, with the characterization of Jung (usually a male) hero of a private entrepreneur who “despite accidental shortcomings, courageously risks his work, capital and energy in a noble quest to solve problems. . . [but] must fight the many villains who seek to stand in his way, from politicians, academics and civil society activists, all of whom are enemies of progress. ”
Violation of the norms is valued in this free digital format, dissenting votes are condemned as mad, and the market becomes the main arbiter of success. Public institutions are on the sidelines, despite the fact that they nominally protect the public interest. The image of the arrogant digital innovator struggling to spring out without archaic regulation is now reflected in discussions of cryptocurrencies that minimize or eliminate the role of central banks and legal courts.
The Internet security bill, which the UK government introduced in parliament in March, is one attempt to counter the doctrine of no harmful effects. The bill would make technology companies responsible for illegal content, such as child pornography, and for harmful (but legal) material that contradicts moderation policies, such as cyberbullying.
Whether the legislation will work in practice without compromising freedom of speech is debatable, but, in any case, it only rips the low-hanging fruit in the garden of digital harm. Other adverse outcomes, such as biased algorithmic decision making, are much less noticeable. It may also be harder to challenge Jung’s other principles, such as digitalism and the right to unrestricted innovation, as Britain paves its way outside the EU in hopes of becoming a thriving technology state.
The roadmap is, in essence, a deregulation with a focus on democracy, privacy and data protection. A critical balance needs to be struck between allowing future Masks the freedom to push the boundaries, realizing that these boundaries and many other rules exist for a reason.