Part History, Part Manifesto
Dushyant Arora
FREEDOM TO THINK: THE LONG STRUGGLE TO LIBERATE OUR MINDS  by Susie Alegre Atlantic Books, 2022, 400 pp., $ 29.95
April 2023, volume 47, No 4

In Freedom to Think, Susie Alegre paints a dire picture of the state of intellectual freedom and free expression in the digital age. As a journalist and former editor at The Economist, Alegre brings a wealth of experience and insight to the topic, as well as a deep concern for the consequences of our increasingly digital lives.

The book is divided into two main sections. The first explores the various ways in which Big Tech has come to dominate our online lives, from search engines and social media platforms to algorithmic curation and content moderation. Alegre argues that these companies have not only amassed immense power and wealth, but have also become the gatekeepers of information and ideas in our society, with the ability to shape public opinion and influence political outcomes.

However, it is not just the monopolistic power of Big Tech that Alegre is worried about. It is the insidious way that these companies have co-opted our very sense of self, turning us into data points to be harvested, analysed, and monetized. She shows how we have become addicted to the dopamine hits of social media and the endless stream of notifications that keep us glued to our screens, even as our attention spans shrink and our ability to think critically is eroded.

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