About

Power-Switch is the blog of the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy (MCTD) in the University of Cambridge. The Centre is part of the Frontier Tech Impact Initiative — a new global initiative committed to bringing accountability to the tech ecosystem, rebalancing power between democracies and tech corporations, and reimagining technology in the public interest. Our Centre forms part a network that includes centres in the University of Western Australia, New York University and UCLA, with more to follow.

Our Aim

To create a common space for debating internet policy and regulation that goes beyond Silicon Valley exceptionalism and the Brussels bubble. To enable this the Blog will…

… have an international perspective

The debate about democracy and technology is dominated by the US and Europe, with the rest of the world relegated to the side-lines. Now more than ever it matters to understand shared challenges posed by power, technology, and democracy, and to wrestle with how political regimes matter for the governance of technology, and how different ways of building technology matter for politics, government, and states. We strive to expand horizons, to explore what Washington and Brussels can learn from Delhi, Bejing, Seoul, analyse shared themes and notable points of divergence, and provide a platform for voices that are current ignored or under-appreciated in the public discourse about tech.

…assert the primacy of basic democratic principles

The meaning of democracy has never been stable. We believe that debates about technology and regulation are often debates about how to understand, interpret, and apply the ideal of democracy and what it means — in complex, modern states, which rely on technologies that most people have neither the interest nor expertise to understand — for citizens to govern themselves and forge their collective state. We aim to provide a forum for voices from across the world wrestling with that challenge, to share their own reflections on power, technology, and the changing meaning and experience of democracy.

… challenge the implicit determinism in traditional approaches to tech power

This blog starts from the presumption that technology is not an agent – people are. Instead of approaching technology as the agent of creative destruction, we invite contributions that question and probe the possibilities of human control, rather than assume its limits. Our contributors will explore: how the interaction between law, regulation, the administrative state, and the institutions of representative democracy affects what it means for a society to exert control over technology; and what we can learn about the underlying health of democracy in the present and its possibilities in the future. Rather than adding one more online bubble, we want to see our blog as a hammer, as a pen that changes hands, as a page of a story that might not be perfect but keeps us interested in what will happen next.