From the Editor
The late Terry Pratchett is responsible for many ideas that have become key to online discourse. His Sam Vimes ‘Boots’ Theory of Economic Injustice is regularly referenced in discussions around inequality, while his book Going Postal contains one of the most cynically succinct, yet concerningly accurate portrayals of startup funding around.
However, the concept with the most powerful relevance to today is arguably the Trousers of Time. Go down one leg and the reality you end up with is very different to that at the end of the other.
In many ways, the last few years has been a succession of trouser legs, each time taking us towards a reality that looks less and less like the one we thought lay before us down a single tube – a pencil skirt, if you will – less than a decade ago. And in just a matter of weeks, the opening of another pair of trousers sits, promising very different realities depending on the leg society collectively decides upon.
I am, of course, talking about the US election, which on 3 November will see American voters decide between a second term of incumbent Donald Trump or former vice president Joe Biden. And for the interplay between politics and technology – as well as the wider world – the result will have powerful impacts on the future.
“In many ways, the last few years has been a succession of trouser legs, each time taking us towards a reality that looks less and less like the one we thought lay before us less than a decade ago.”
In this issue of Verdict Magazine, we explore the challenges at the intersection of technology and politics, both in the US and beyond, as well as a host of other issues that are springing up as we face a very different future at the end of this rather unusual trouser leg.
On the subject of US politics, we hear from both Federal Election Commission member Ellen Weintraub and ACLU president Susan Herman, exploring the challenges and benefits technology is bringing to politics and civil rights.
Looking more widely, we consider how recent accusations levelled against Russia are shining a light on state-sponsored cyberattacks and their role in international relations, as well as explore how Big Tech’s use of algorithms could and should be regulated, with help from Drupal founder Dries Buytaert.
Then there is the matter of Trump’s international target of choice: China. We explore how new companies are emerging as the battleground du jour, as well as consider how the country is using foreign direct investment to widen its reach.
Beyond politics, people around the world are currently working on ideas, businesses and projects that are set to become integral to the post-Covid reality. We explore some of the key issues in this space, from the subset of the tech industry that has sprung up around social distancing to the emerging passion economy – as well as the emergence of generation Z as a powerful driving force.