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Megacorps to replace governments?

22 October 2020

For as long as man has been on the face of the planet, there has always been an uneven division of work and wealth.

The utopia where all men are equal and everyone shares the burdens and the bounties of of life equally is just a dream, and always will be.

It is the nature of some to be competitive and work hard, whilst others prefer to take a more leisurely attitude and coast, doing only the bare minimum necessary to sustain themselves. Depending on how you weight the priorities in your life you'll fall somewhere between the two extremes and that leads to the situation where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Throw in the fact that there will always be a subset of the population who don't adhere to the morals, ethics and principles by which the rest live and this divide can grow at quite a significant rate.

Now we're seeing signs that not only wealth is being accumulated into fewer but far bigger piles but the same is happening with technology.

Crucial technologies are being increasingly scooped up by those who already have a high profile in their respective markets, thus consolidating their hold on certain market sectors.

In the social media world we've seen companies like Facebook go on spending sprees, snapping up other players by paying huge sums in cash and shares. This has the effect of preserving the effective monopolies behind such acquisitions and lessens the level of competition in the marketplace.

Now, with NVIDIA's acquisition of ARM we're seeing a consolidation that also threatens to bolster the GPU manufacturer's grip on the market for uber-fast silicon.

How strategic was NVIDIA's move, bearing in mind that Apple has announced its intention to move to ARM architecture?

For many years, Apple has relied heavily on NVIDIA's main rival (AMD) for GPUs so I wonder what that means for the next generation of Apple computers? Will they also switch to NVIDIA GPUs as a condition of any licensing with ARM/NVIDIA?

Given that Apple is a potent force in mobile and desktop computing, twisting their "arm" to switch back to NVIDIA graphics technology could be yet another boost to the bottom line whilst further disadvantaging AMD as a competitor.

Then, of course, there's Google; currently the subject of anti-trust investigations by the US government.

The allegations are that Google has leveraged its dominant position to restrict opportunities for competing companies in the advertising, search and other sectors of the online marketplace.

Google claims that customers are always free to choose which service provider they want for their advertising, search and other online activities but the US government isn't so sure that the choice is always a viable one.

The way things are headed, we could very easily see a future world were huge corporations such as Apple, Microsoft, Google et al are replaced by even larger "megacorporations" which have such total dominance of market sectors that their survival and ability to control markets is absolute. Such megacorps would be so large as to even be immune to the attempts of governments to reign in their scope, scale and power.

At that point, government itself becomes subservient to those megacorps and they effectively control everything, right down to the policies and laws of the land.

Does that sound outrageous?

Well I'm not so sure it is.

Given the way that modern society has proven itself willing to accept almost any restriction, regulation or change thrust upon them in the name of safety and security, I would not be surprised if people willingly accepted governance by megacorporation if it came with the offer of free internet, a new 8K TV set and a life-time's subscription to Netflix.

What do readers think?

Is this just the stuff of science fiction or do we risk the total commercialisation of our political system? Remember that we're already a long way down that road, with much of the decision-making in many democracies being driven by well-funded lobbyists. Maybe all I'm talking about is a formalisation of those practices that presently take place behind closed doors.

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