We were reviewing Kevin Kelly’s “Predicting the next 5,000 days of the web” today in the office. He is the founding executive director of Wired magazine and he discussed at a TED conference the next wave of the Internet and how he sees this progressing.
My own version in terms of looking ahead was actually my very first blog post back in 2006 called “The evolution of the web?” when I first thought about the enhancements but potential pitfalls to modern day life which formed the discussion around this blog.
Interestingly I found Kelly’s talk more like a preacher’s sermon, and certainly the vision he was painting was more akin to a scientific-based religion. His call for progression was basically a call to submission – of all your rights to privacy and ultimately everything that is intrinsically human – in order to be plugged in.
Now as a digital evangelist myself I am not one to suggest we all go and live in a Hamish community and fear technology, far from it, but neither am I prepared to blindly walk into a new world where have relinquished all control to this technological beast and sold my soul to the highest bidder. I am first and foremost a human being. This ‘angel of light’ is a mere distraction from a potential evil that unfortunately permeates the very moral fibres of society and no amount of silicon-gloss veneer will answer a deeper call to protect society from our own worst enemy, i.e. ourselves.
When human kind is reduced to merely evolved DNA strands and a series of bits and bytes to serve a utopian technological goal, we reduce the essence of what it means to be human – to be allowed to be creative, to form free expressions and be socially interactive but complemented by personal moments of privacy – to mere slaves to a system which inevitably will have some fat controller at the helm. Every ship needs a captain and in this case, left unchecked, we will find ourselves with a completely excusable way of allowing certain individuals to play God and to get a little ahead of themselves.
What Mr. Kelly seems to forget in his vision of advantage, is that it is not the super-computer brain that will be in control, but the people who will utilise this technology for their own advantage and self-gain. History unfortunately does have a way of merely repeating itself. After all we are dealing with men, and power just can’t help but going to people’s heads. I am sure IBM never foresaw what would become the logical use of their computer invention… well, initially…
Without balance, decisions will be made in a seeking of this perfect utopia, and the cyber-crime that will ensue will spiral more and more control to the system, and ethics and morality come to be seen as some kind of historic notion with no relevance in the modern world. Just look around you right now and notice how this fear of the neighbour next-door pushes governments to adopt technology which basically assumes everyone is guilty until proven innocent. It is totally out of proportion to the level of crime committed and is just an excuse for a nanny-state which serves whose ego exactly?
If this is not monitored and controlled we will find ourselves whipped and hoodwinked by a media frenzy where all common-sense goes out the window, and those seen to challenge or bucking the trend will be sidelined or completely eradicated. This after all is what Hitler ultimately did, facilitated by technology, and it is against this logical conclusion where I passionately scream “I am not a number!” Whether tattooed by ink or a micro-chip, ultimately those numbers will equal slavery as I have discussed before.
The end can never justify the means.
As for me, I am off to buy Jonathon Zittrain‘s “The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It”.
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