For all their size and power, platforms are curiously hard to define. So what makes Facebook and Uber different to other businesses? To answer this question, we’re joined by Nick Srnicek, author of Platform Capitalism, one of the best recent books on this puzzling question.
Srnicek, Lecturer in Digital Economy at King’s College London, defines platforms using a Marxist economic framework: it’s not about what they do, he says, but how they make money. From this perspective, he says, we can see how little they add to the economy.
Srnicek’s mission is to challenge the neo-liberal economic consensus that has prevailed since the early 1980s. Instead of paying workers less and forcing the unemployed into work, he argues, we should nationalise Google and Facebook, pay a Universal Basic Income, and make the working week as short as possible. How? On that, he’s less clear – but it definitely involves robots…
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