The much anticipated Congressional appearance by tech execs got underway at a moment when their companies are more powerful and valuable than ever, and when it feels like, as individuals, we need them the most. I assumed Jeff Bezos would show up in a cardboard box, Tim Cook would argue that his appearance meant Apple could take a 30% cut of all American tax revenue, Sundar Pichai would claim that Google had plenty of competition from Alta Vista and Lycos (just Ask Jeeves), and that Mark Zuckerberg would finally get it over with and annex America. Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, who for some reason wasn’t invited, delivered his remarks via a Word Doc, guaranteeing no one will open it or read them. It didn’t quite go the way I anticipated. “Representative David Cicilline, the chairman of the antitrust subcommittee, grilled Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, about how Google steers traffic to its own search pages and products. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York asked Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s top executive, about emails he wrote describing Instagram as a potentially disruptive competitor before the company acquired the firm. And Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia pushed Tim Cook of Apple on whether his company exerts unfair dominance over app developers in its app store.” Here’s the latest from the NYT. If I were on the House committee, I’d only have one question: We set out to build something great. We ended up ruining the world. What happened? (Maybe we should just unplug everything and wait thirty seconds.)

+ The Atlantic’s Ross Anderson with a great look at the broader threat technology poses. China Is What Orwell Feared. “Xi wants to use artificial intelligence to build a digital system of social control, patrolled by precog algorithms that identify dissenters in real time.” And then he wants to export that tech to other countries.

+ Reuters: Rite Aid deployed facial recognition systems in hundreds of U.S. stores.