“It’s axiomatic that advertising on the Internet is at best a necessary evil,” Christopher Mims reports for The Wall Street Journal. “But what if everyone is wrong about ads? What if ads, in a fairly direct way, are responsible for much of what is magical, automated and ‘smart’ about our gadgets and the Internet today?”

“As I researched, I discovered the alumni of ad tech platforms are everywhere, launching startups and leading projects within established companies,” Mims reports. “What they all have in common is an unusual and broadly powerful toolkit that is being applied to everything from agricultural drones and cybersecurity to food safety and the improvement of hiring practices.”

Mims writes, “I’m not saying all this excuses some seriously egregious practices of the ad tech industry, but the importance of ad tech in the history of the Internet illustrates a larger principle, one also seen in the history of military technology: Just as the nuclear bomb became nuclear power, ad tech is continually having a swords-to-plowshares moment.”

Read more in the full article here.

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