Global elite opinion has settled on the view that the large technology corporations owning and running the large digital platforms have to be reined in before the reach and depth of their power get out of hand.

Regulatory agencies in various guises and with different mandates – competition, welfare, preventive, security, etc. – have been tasked with the undertaking to tame the tech giants and their overbearing platforms.

In this short essay, we examine one way in which the nature of digital platforms has transformed fundamentally, through a phenomenon we have termed, hyperintegration, and how the shape-shifting effects of this transformation confuse and distract even highly informed observers, and undermine most of the interventions of regulators.

Hyperintegration refers to a process in which emphasis on the source of digital power has shifted from software code and design, or “algorithms” (moment 1), to data (moment 2) and, presently, to “integrations” (moment 3). The term “integrations” represents the logics dictating the fluid connections among data sources and algorithm stores, regardless of their nominal creators, owners and controllers.

We home in on one particular company, Microsoft, which has mastered the art of shape-shifting to an unmatched degree, and thereby amassed far more power than its often more spotlighted rivals, even whilst evading serious scrutiny because its world-dominating platform is mostly “underground” and undercover.

(Read the full essay here.)