Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
The explosion of technology in every facet of life is a big reason that the rich are getting richer, and the big are getting bigger, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei writes.
How we got here: The idea of disruption is that technology enables small, nimble companies to supplant lumbering old giants.
Advocates for Big Tech argue that it democratizes — that code is a meritorious equalizer.
Be smart: Optimists point out that the tech pendulum has always swung from concentrations of centralized power to periods of decentralizing breakthroughs. But so far that’s mostly swinging wealth and power to the wealthy and powerful.
The harsh reality behind Big Tech's power consolidation is clear in these five trends, reported by Axios’ Sara Fischer, Ina Fried, Steve LeVine, Dan Primack, Scott Rosenberg and Felix Salmon:
1. Data begets data, and that begets power.
2. Size begets more heft and dollars.
3. Automation screws a lot of workers.
4. Algorithms favor the fortunate in big business.
5. Tech is also making big, bigger in media.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
First in Axios AM ... President Trump and his top telecom regulator will announce plans today to unleash the largest-ever swath of radio frequencies in the U.S. — plus a $20 billion fund to help wireless companies to keep pace with China in the 5G race, Axios managing editor Kim Hart reports.
Fears that China has the edge in the global 5G race sparked some (including Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich and Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale) to call for a government-directed national network, similar to China's own approach.
At a White House event today, Trump and Pai plan to make two announcements as part of the FCC's "5G Fast Plan" to position the U.S. ahead of global rivals:
1. Airwaves: The FCC will auction off three big slices of millimeter-wave airwaves that are crucial to connecting new devices at high speeds.
2. Funding: The agency will announce a Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to spend $20.4 billion over 10 years in rural broadband.
The bigger picture: Widespread deployment of 5G will happen over the course of a decade, requiring a steady pipeline of spectrum and fiber projects.
The World Press Photo Foundation, based in Amsterdam, yesterday awarded Photo of the Year to "Crying Girl on the Border," by John Moore, a senior staff photographer for Getty Images:
Hillary Clinton told an audience in New York last night that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange "has to answer for what he has done," quipping to the audience that she has some familiarity with his work, per CNN.
Assange was arrested in London yesterday on a charge, which carries a maximum of five years in prison, alleging that he conspired with Chelsea Manning in 2010 to crack a password on Defense Department computers.
9-9-9 looks bye-bye-bye.
Herman Cain's candidacy for the Federal Reserve Board is collapsing, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.
The bottom line: President Trump hasn't even formally nominated him, but a growing number Republicans are privately saying he’ll be confirmed over their dead bodies.
During a pen-and-pad session with reporters in his office yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had some blunt advice for Trump about possible nominees:
Yes, but: Despite Cain's poor prospects, Larry Kudlow told Fox News yesterday that the White House still wants him.
In the Situation Room, President Trump was meeting about the Mexican border with generals and other military leaders, the WashPost reports.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Amazon is mounting a vigorous defense against the charge that it stifles competition, with founder Jeff Bezos pushing back on critics in his annual shareholder letter, Axios' David McCabe reports.
In his annual letter to stockholders yesterday, the Amazon CEO countered two lines of criticism: that his company is strong-arming third-party sellers on its platform, and that it has monopolistic power over the market.
The context: Amazon’s critics have ramped up criticism of its market power in recent years, saying the company uses its scale to muscle out competitors in a growing array of businesses.
Rick Singer, who bribed colleges to recruit clients' kids as athletes, found that crew (rowing) was a soft target for his scam, the L.A. Times' Matthew Ormseth reports:
This 154-year-old telegram — now for sale — was written inside the home where President Lincoln was rushed after being shot at Ford's Theater, AP reports.
The telegram had been in the collection of a Civil War general's family for generations and is valued at $500,000.
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