You’re already online, so maybe you want to read the news, check your email, surf your newsfeed, buy some food or any other number of things. Now for the trick, I’m going to tell you the companies that facilitated whatever choice you just made. It was almost certainly Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft or Facebook. Make a choice — any choice. Let me show you a magic trick. That online control has material ramifications. Ah, monopoly: It’s a tale as old as, well, the board game, at least.
Last week, in a House antitrust hearing, arguing that the tech giants exert unfair control over their respective markets — shutting out competitors, squashing startups and exploiting smaller companies to maintain their immense power and profit. Minshull Street Crown Court heard last week how the conman was paid more than £700,000 by his victims, spending their money on holidays abroad and online gambling, while only returning around £96,000. Ms Kelly, who is in her 50s and was described as a ‘successful businesswoman with substantial assets’ agreed to invest into five bonds and was then persuaded into investing in further bonds for her grandchildren.
Sam Whittingslow, 29, from Hyde, had known successful businesswoman Jill Kelly since he was a child – but managed to con her out of thousands by setting up online alter egos promising to ‘double your money returns’. These companies are actually training us — intentionally or not — for hours each day to act primarily on impulse, convenience and short-term economic self interest, even when our more deeply held values are at odds with that. The problem with Amazon and Google and all the other tech giants restricting our choices goes beyond the material.
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But each time we do that, we have to make a second choice: Do we care that we’re making decisions at odds with our values, or do we just refashion our values to align with our behavior? But when we’re consistently confronted with the choice between convenience and inconvenience, a lower price tag and a higher one, it’s natural to respond to our immediate, material concerns. A Crown Resorts director and former senior public servant says she regrets signing on to an ASX statement and full-page newspaper advertisement in which the casino business made false claims about its relationships with Chinese junket operators.
Ms Halton on Wednesday told the inquiry the Crown board had made inroads on addressing failures that contributed to the 2016 arrest of Crown staff in China, but denied on Thursday that Crown had failed to “heed warnings signs” for the arrests.