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TechnoKings rule, but at what cost?

By Mal Fletcher - posted Friday, 19 March 2021

"Crowns do queer things to the heads beneath them," wrote George R.R. Martin.

This is as true of crowns claimed in the worlds of BigTech and new media as it is in traditional monarchies.

Tesla has this week added the title "TechnoKing" to its list of official titles for its flamboyant founder, Elon Musk. The electric car-maker didn't share its reasons for doing so, nor did it say what it means by the term.


Knowing the often mischievous Musk, the whole thing may be a stunt, designed only to get people chattering. If that's true, it worked on me!

Let's assume for a moment, though, that the company has some serious intent here. Perhaps it is trying to highlight Musk's role as a prominent facilitator of innovation, in and beyond his group of companies.

Or, it may hope to intimidate rivals operating in the space-travel arena, another of Musk's key enterprises.

Whatever the motive, this coronation allows us to look again at the impact BigTech has on our lives and societies.

So often, we seem to accept new applications of technology without reflecting on who owns the tools we use and what their ultimate motivations might be. Or what social impact our reliance on technology might bring.

BigTech companies, for all their talk about promoting equality of opportunity and outcome, produce more than their fair share of inequality.


Calling a technology chief a king is both instructive and appropriate. After all, what is a monarch but the ultimate embodiment of social stratification? It's no stretch to say that BigTech is creating its own social strata.

In the wake of Oprah Winfrey's interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, an important discussion erupted about potential racism in Britain's royal household. Amidst the outcry, some people questioned whether a royal tier, sitting atop layers of social inequality, should even exist any more.

Interestingly, some of the loudest cries against the royals came from very wealthy and privileged Americans, who live like royalty themselves. Oprah Winfrey has herself been dubbed the Queen of TV. To my knowledge, she has not come out against the title, so presumably quite enjoys it.

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About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

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