'Most of my far-out ideas will be the norm before long' - Steve Hilton

AUTHOR Q&A: Break up big supermarkets and ban smartphones for kids, says Steve Hilton

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 02 Jul 2015

What do you think is wrong with big business?

I'm in favour of entrepreneurial, risk-taking businesses that create great products and services. Increasingly though, some big businesses have turned into private sector bureaucracies that try to bend the rules and keep competitors out. They've lost sight of people. We need to look at breaking up firms that exercise such unaccountable market power, like the big supermarkets. The whole sector has become too distant, and passes on the social and environmental costs to the taxpayer.

Is technology pushing us inexorably towards a faceless, impersonal world?

Not necessarily. For example, Airbnb is a big global business whose technology has helped bring people together and made travel dramatically more human. But technology can dehumanise – just look at the terrible impact on employee morale of data-enabled management systems that are designed to be ‘efficient’ but leave people feeling like an afterthought.

You refer to the EU as a 'vast, stinking cesspit of corporate corruption gussied up in the garb of idealistic internationalism'. Should we leave then?

I'm certainly open to it; just as the Prime Minister has to be. You don't have much of a negotiating position unless people can see you're serious about leaving if the right terms aren't agreed. But there is a choice, though. We can imagine a prosperous future whether we're in or out; we'll have to judge which is better given the deal on the table.

How do you think Steve Hilton of 2010 would have reacted to some of your more 'far-out' ideas?

If some strike people as radical, that just shows how far we've come from a sensible, human perspective. People have described my proposal to ban smartphones for kids as mad, but why would we want children to have unsupervised access to the internet? I predict most of my 'far-out' ideas will be the norm before long.

More Human: Designing a World Where People Come First, WH Allen, £18.99 (hardback)

Steve Hilton is co-founder and CEO of Crowdpac, a Silicon Valley political tech start-up, and a visiting professor at Stanford University. He was formerly senior adviser to David Cameron. Follow him on Twitter at @SteveHiltonx

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