Before this era is over there will be a global demand to “eat the rich,” at which point the Kochs, the Mercers, the little Trumps and Peter Thiel expect this nation’s intellectuals to save them from the guillotine.
The rich do have their purpose. Wealthy people supply capital for opportunities that create jobs. They stand by the banks that provide liquidity to the system. But they were amply paid for these services before they launched all-out war on the poor (and middle class), starting with Nixon, accelerating with Reagan, becoming obvious under Bush and climaxing under Trump.
At Christmas 2017, the day of victory over these forces seems far off. The rich and their castles of money seem as impregnable as the castles of stone were for their 14th century forebears. Everywhere you look, it seems, fascism reigns supreme. Russia has taken down America, China is “communist” only in name, the Middle East is ruled by the Saud Kings, and throughout the developing world absolute rulers of all stripes know the great powers have their back.
The world is much like it was in 1942, except that democracy and capitalism are being squeezed from above, not from the sides.
But victory is in sight.
Finally, the battle lines become clear, even to Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Tim Cook. Trump means to take them down. They, and their fortunes, are now on the line.
Despite the bleating of some on the left, the cloud czars have always known that their best interests lie in a world where power is widely distributed, and where the pace of technology change is maximized. This is how clouds themselves developed, with business leaders taking full advantage of change, leaving carriers that insisted on guarantees of profit behind.
As this was written, Apple was worth $881 billion, Google $703 billion, Microsoft $641 billion, Amazon.Com $554 billion and Facebook $504 billion. That’s $3,283 Trillion in market cap. Against that line up AT&T at $229 billion, Verizon at $222 billion, and Comcast at $187 billion. Throw in T-Mobile at $51 billion, Sprint at $24 billion, and just for fun add Disney’s $167 billion, Fox’s $67 billion, CBS’ $23 billion and Viacom’s $12 billion.
The Internet is worth more than the telecommunications and content industries combined. Google hasn’t bought Netflix, worth $78 billion, because it’s not worth it. The content and networking industries are going down, and the Internet industries continue to rise. This is the economic reality of our time. Companies that are anywhere from 20-40 years old are, collectively, worth far more than those that are a century old.
That’s power. That’s global power. That’s money power. That’s power now threatened directly by fascists who laugh in its face and say, in effect, “kneel.”
The cloud czars won’t kneel. It’s not in their self-interest to share their wealth with other industries. And they also know both how they got rich, and how to beat back fascism.
Have you guessed it by now?
The word is change.
As I have been writing since the turn of the century, Moore’s Law means better and better goes faster and faster, for cheaper and cheaper. That phone in your hand is more powerful than supercomputers were at the time I wrote my book. That phone, in turn, has instant access to all the knowledge in the world, and all the computing power in the world, thanks to the cloud czars.
Clouds and devices are making revolutions routine. DNA is becoming the equivalent of a programming language, CRISPR its Microsoft Basic. Inventions that can remove carbon dioxide from the air and water are coming to market quickly. Electric, self-driving cars are about to revolutionize our cities. We are rapidly gaining the capacity to stop, even turn around, global warming. It’s a big ask, but as the pace of technological change accelerates, it’s within sight.
Fascism rejects this. Fascism leads directly to feudalism, a ruling class of billionaires who believe they can halt the march of history.
The first task for companies like Facebook is to invest some of their billions into programmers and algorithms that can separate truth from lies, bots from humans. This has already begun. The cloud industry is arming itself against the foe, but the battle hasn’t been joined yet.
Pai’s ego is the call to arms. Trump has activated a large majority of Americans against the fascist foe, but we’re going to need technology to win the victory. We’re going to need technology to get the truth in front of people, to have liars called liars, and to ensure fair elections over time.
This is not a big ask, but it must be done carefully, out of sight of those who now consider themselves our masters. But change is in the business interests of the cloud czars, to a greater degree than it was in the interests of any industry in our past, as a nation or as a planet. The cloud czars don’t want to lose it. They won’t toss it away.
The cloud is going to war.