Thursday, July 22, 2010

Philosophy, Political Science, Digital Revolutionaries, and Holocaust Denial

“A new history of Face Book portrays the company's founder as an idealist devoted to the cause of total transparency. But the digital revolutionaries may not understand their own rhetoric,” writes Evgeny Morozov

Morozov argues that political science and public intellectuals are losing ground among the young, and not so young, to digital revolutionaries who hold that transparency is everything. Our society has become innovation-obsessed, more interested in business than in politics. Web sites such as Face Book are used for “all kinds of dubious purposes, from killing time with the numerous games that have sprung up on its platform to joining Holocaust denial groups.”

“… . Zuckerberg (Face Book’s founder) and his colleagues believe that neither human behavior nor the manner in which technology unfolds can be altered. It’s not surprising that there is no place for politics in the digital revolution: for its leaders, the state exists, if at all, merely to provide cheap broadband.”

“… . But even if the likes of Face book do believe in the social usefulness of what they are doing, societies need more than their blind faith to assess such claims. The promises and perils of innovation need to be assessed through a value-laden prism of ethics. As it happens, this has been the bread and butter of philosophy and political science, the two disciplines that digital revolutionaries were quick to discard in favour of computer science.”

What has proven more useless for human life than philosophy and political science? Thousands of years of both and we remain today what we were then. Violent, brutal, and selfish. Maybe it is precisely our philosophies and our politics that we should discard. Maybe transparency is the way to go. Particularly when we look in the mirror. Keeping in mind that the mirror is not transparent.

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