T Bone Burnett takes on big-tech companies in SXSW speech


Musician and producer T Bone Burnett has spoken out before on the relationship between technology companies and artists.

Last week at SXSW, he gave a speech outlining how he feels about all this in 2019. “It must be becoming obvious to most people by now: the fact that we are in a battle. A battle for the survival of our species. And our enemy is within,” he said, citing the recent behaviour of companies like Facebook, and legislators’ efforts to regulate it. Mark Zuckerberg’s ears will surely have been burning. “Having been exposed, he now claims to have grown and changed. But by now we have profound evidence that he has not. And in fact, his lesser power has made him worse. Has made him into a James Bond villain,” said Burnett.

His talk took in GDPR and data-privacy; the impact of artificial-intelligence technology on human jobs; and changing cultures of internet use. “No one’s even on the internet any more. We’re all just in applications,” said Burnett. “So they’re controlling the internet, which was supposed to be an open communications system…” There’s plenty more to parse in the 49-minute video.

Written by: Stuart Dredge