Summary of The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity by Amy Webb

Amy Webb is an American futurist and author. She wrote the book “The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity”. In the book, she discusses AI and how Big Nine corporations are reshaping the human and machine relationship. The Big Nine are the six American companies, G-MAFIA, namely Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Apple. And there are three Chinese companies, known as BAT, namely Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent.

Wall street have influenced over the American G-MAFIA companies, which are Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Apple. And they also have a business-oriented relationship with the American Government. On the other hand, the Chinese BAT companies; Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, are under the control of Chinese Communist Party. All these corporations focus on mining and refining consumer data to shape the future of artificial intelligence. The consumers’ data holds the central position in this process.

Books written by Amy Webb  (Author)

AI revolution

The AI revolution has already arrived, but it has not made a grand entrance as many had anticipated. Rather, it operates as a silent backbone in various domains such as financial systems, power grids, and retail supply chains. It forms an invisible infrastructure that guides us through traffic and point out our typing errors. Furthermore it also influences our choices of behavior psychology like what to purchase, watch, listen, and read. As it intersects with nearly every aspect of our lives, including health, housing, agriculture, transportation, sports. And even matters of love, sex, and death, artificial intelligence has become the building block upon.

AI battle between US and China

In the US, the unyielding demands of the market and unrealistic expectations for innovation have rendered long-term planning unattainable. The public has come to anticipate that US G-MAFIA companies will unveil groundbreaking AI products at their annual conferences. As if research and development breakthroughs can schedule like clockwork. If these corporations do not present us with more impressive products in previous years, we often speak of them as if they have failed. We may question whether AI is no longer a viable option or criticize their leadership. Regrettably, we have not allowed these companies the time they need to focus on development.

American lawmakers perceive AI as a threat to employment and economic growth. But actually they should see it as an opportunity for development and job creation. Consequently, they tend to hold US tech giants accountable for this potential issue. However, instead of blaming these companies, policymakers could involve them in the highest levels of strategic planning within the government.

Strategy of China

China’s approach to AI development is the government’s ambitious goals. The country has set out to establish itself as the world’s leading AI superpower. A domestic industry worth over $150 billion by 2030. In July 2017, the Chinese government outlined the Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan. To achieve this goal, China is investing heavily in new labs, startups, and specialized schools.

In October 2017, President Xi Jinping reiterated AI and big data in his speech to thousands of party officials. This is the start that AI would begin in China’s economy. Although publicly traded giants such as Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba have a significant presence in China’s AI industry, they are still subject to the will of the government in Beijing, as is typical of all large Chinese companies.

America’s Tribes: The G-MAFIA

The Big Nine’s US-based segment, which comprises G-MEFIA, is highly innovative and has been responsible for driving significant advancements in the field of AI. These companies function like a mafia, not in a negative sense. But as a closed network of individuals with similar backgrounds and interests who wield considerable influence over the direction of our future.

Using the data collected through cloud services, the G-MAFIA could potentially learn personal information about us. Which we may not even be aware of, such as pregnancy, employee opinions, or terminal illness. Their AI technology could know these things well before we do. While this level of insight into our lives can seem daunting, it has the potential to result in improved health and happiness for everyone.

China’s Tribes: The BAT

The BAT, which comprises Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, is China’s counterpart to the Big Nine. The AI community in China operates under distinct regulations and procedures, which include significant government investment, regulation, and industrial policies aimed at driving the BAT’s development. Together, they represent a well-funded, meticulously organized state-level plan for the future of AI, with the government wielding considerable control. This is China’s race for technological supremacy, and we are its challenger in a mission that parallels the US-Soviet space race. Although we may have reached orbit first, China has committed its sovereign wealth fund, education system, citizens, and national pride to its pursuit of AI dominance.


The fundamental question of what happens when a small group of individuals design a system. The system that make decisions for everyone has been overlooked, leading to an existential crisis for humanity. The potential biases towards market forces or political ambitions in decision-making by such a system have far-reaching implications, affecting future opportunities, societal conventions, economic rules, and even human relationships. The actions we take now with regards to AI, no matter how small, can have significant consequences for human history. It is crucial for everyone to be involved in shaping the future of AI, as the wrong decisions could lead to catastrophic outcomes for humanity.

AI Bias

The development of AI is largely driven by a small group of like-minded individuals who work in insulated groups. Over time, the unconscious biases and myopia of these groups become new systems of belief and accepted behaviors, which are then programmed into our machines. These individuals belong to a tribe of affluent, highly educated people living and working in North America and China, who attend the same universities and adhere to a set of social rules. The tribes are overwhelmingly homogenous, with mostly male members and leaders. However, homogeneity is also an issue in China, where members are predominantly Chinese.

The power of tribes lies in their insularity, which magnifies and further entrenches cognitive biases that slip past awareness. Cognitive biases are a substitute for rational thought, which slows down our thinking and requires more energy. Therefore, the problem with tribes is that they can have a significant impact on the development of AI, and their biases and myopia can lead to unintended negative consequences.

The AI Systems

The AI tribes of the Big Nine are creating two types of artificial intelligence systems. The first is artificial narrow intelligence (ANI), which can perform a single task as well as or better than humans. ANI is already being used in various commercial applications and allowing the tribe to make decisions for us. Such as email, internet searches, photography, driving, and financial services.

The second type is artificial general intelligence (AGI), which can perform broader cognitive tasks by thinking like humans. However, the question arises as to whose values, ideals, and worldviews are being used to model these AI systems. The answer is that they prioritize the values, ideals, and worldviews of their creators, rather than ours. The AI systems are starting to develop a mind of their own, which may deviate from their creators’ values and ideals.

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a few dominant players, known as the Big Nine, comprising China’s BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent) and America’s G-MAFIA (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Apple) shape the future of artificial intelligence. Members of these AI tribes deeply ingrained in their shared values and goals, which further reinforced once they enter the workforce. As AI progresses from narrow to general intelligence, the Big Nine are developing new hardware systems and recruiting developers who subscribe to their frameworks.

Neither the consumerism-driven AI model in the United States nor China’s government-controlled approach are inherently good or bad, and AI itself is not necessarily harmful to society. However, the G-MAFIA are companies that must prioritize shareholder interests over their leaders’ and employees’ altruistic intentions. Meanwhile, the BAT are accountable to the Chinese government, which has already determined what’s in the country’s best interest.

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