The People vs Tech by Jamie Bartlett review – once more into the digital apocalypse

The latest treatise on technology taking over our lives suggests democratic systems are incompatible with the digital age, but the theory lacks coherence

There is a clear, algorithmic formula for writing books about technology and society in 2018. Authors are generally required to be male, their documented personal journey must have been from that of techno-optimist to techno-sceptic to techno-panicker. There must be an urgent existential threat to either democracy or humanity lurking in the code base of Silicon Valley companies. The intractable crisis is not so profound, however, that it cannot be solved by a hail of partially thought-through remedies tacked on in the appendix.

This recipe is producing a growing body of what might be termed “techlash” literature: the backlash against Silicon Valley and its seemingly unstoppable accretion of wealth, data and cultural and political capital. Where once we might have read expansive works of science fiction creating ...