How Chile (almost) democratised Big Tech | Audio Long Read

Fifty years after Salvador Allende was ousted, might his greatest legacy be his battle with the emerging tech giants?

On 1 August 1973, a seemingly mundane diplomatic summit took place in Lima, Peru. But there was nothing mundane about its revolutionary agenda. The attendees – diplomats from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru – aspired to create a more just technological world order, one that might have prevented the future dominance of Silicon Valley. As the Chilean foreign minister lamented even then: “500 multinational corporations control 90 per cent of the world’s productive technology”. Could a new international institution - a tech equivalent of the IMF - ensure that developing countries had access to all the benefits of technological progress? Six weeks later, Salvador Allende’s government was toppled, paving the way for General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship of Chile. 

In this week’s audio long read, the author and podcaster Evgeny Morozov considers Allende’s legacy. Often viewed as a tragic but hapless figure, his government in fact oversaw a number of radical and utopian initiatives - many of them to do with technology. Might Chile under Allende have evolved into the South Korea or Taiwan of South America?

Read by Catharine Hughes and written by Evgeny Morozov, who hosts The Santiago Boys: the Tech World that Might Have Been podcast series. This article was originally published on on 9 September 2023; you can read the text version here

If you enjoyed listening to this episode, you might also enjoy Would climate change have been worse without capitalism?

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