Barcelona Initiative for Technological Sovereignty

The Barcelona Initiative for Technological Sovereignty (BITS) aims to stimulate a global debate on changes in the meanings of sovereignty, and to explore the ways in which the various types of sovereignty -of citizens, cities, nations and regions- match with global technologies. With a strong focus on the political effects of technological change. BITS will explore how the emergence of technology platforms and data extractivism is transforming governments, labor, ownership and access to basic concepts of life such as water, food, housing and energy.

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27 Apr
The State and Innovation: Socialising Both Risks and Rewards, by Mariana Mazzucato

Building on her book The Entrepreneurial State: debunking private vs. public sector myths, Mazzucato’s talk will focus on the public sector investments that led to the Silicon Valley growth model. She will argue that the limited narrative of the state’s role in innovation—in the media, in policy and in economic theory— as only ‘fixing markets’ rather than co-creating and shaping them, has justified risks to be socialised while profits are privatised. It is this, not the “robots", that are leading to the problematic relationship between innovation and inequality. The talk will end by considering the concrete implications of a more collective understanding of wealth creation, and new ways to rethink public private contracts that lead to more inclusive growth.

11 May
The Knowledge Economy Made Socially Inclusive, by Roberto Mangabeira Unger

A new practice of knowledge-intensive production has emerged in all the major economies of the world in the wake of the decline of traditional mass-production industry. It is characterized by permanent innovation and radical experimentalism as well as by high technology. Rather than being disseminated in the whole economy, however, the advanced form of production remains largely confined to insular productive vanguards from which the vast majority of the labor force remains excluded. This insularity has become a driving force of both economic stagnation and economic inequality. A fateful question is whether this new practice of production can be disseminated throughout the economy and developed in socially inclusive form. The aim of this lecture is to argue that it can and to show how it can.

25 May
Innovation Policy and National Security, by Linda Weiss

The talk is based on the argument of Linda Weiss’ book, America Inc? Innovation and Enterprise in the National Security State (Cornell University Press). Since WWII, the United States has created the most formidable innovation engine the world has ever seen and, although difficult to quantify, its benefits for the commercial economy have been enormous. America’s rise as the world’s high-tech hegemon is not a free market story, nor is it an industrial policy tale. Rather, it is the product of a national security state (NSS) that has pursued technological supremacy as a strategic imperative essential to sustaining U.S. power - increasingly by directly promoting commercial innovation in order to ensure collaboration from its most advanced suppliers. This NSS creation, however, is now threatened by financialisation of the U.S. economy, manifested in the growing disconnect between innovation and production and dwindling private investment in productive assets. To this extent, the main threat to U.S. preeminence would appear to come not from a rising power such as China, but from within.

08 Jun
Cities in the Hands of Global Finance, by Raquel Rolnik

Cities and territories of the world are increasingly colonized by the empire of global finance. The lecture will focus on the impacts and paths of the taken over of urban policy by finance, in which technologies, including big data and the concept of smart cities, have a central role. The effects are not only economic and cultural. Shaping new spaces and new ways of living in them define a post political era in each there is no room for dissention and heterogeneity.

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