Today's Drudge Report linked a Washington Post article under the clickbait headline Anti-Tech Movement grows. The article itself has two names. When you visit the art directionally more robust version it's called Meet The Dissenters." But if you go to the straight forward version it goes by a more biased headline: Techno-skeptics’ objection growing louder. That headline is no less specious than link on the Drudge Report, although perhaps it's a bit more subdued. Still, adding the word "skeptic," to a group or cause or movement puts one in the frame of mind of tin-foil hat wearers. try some word association in the form of: Climate-Change Skeptic, Vaccine Skeptic, Evolution Skeptic and you'll see what I'm getting at.
So what is the content of this article all about and who are these skeptics? The first in the article is a musician, documentarian author and political activist named Astra Taylor, whose book “The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age,” sharply critiques the digital age as being a nightmare scenario run by robber barons who mine data for cash. (No argument there) The article helpfully informs us that Taylor, is "not paranoid, but she keeps duct tape over the camera lens on her laptop computer — because, as everyone knows, these gadgets can be taken over by nefarious agents of all kinds."
This definitely puts her in the majority. According to the Pew Research Center only 6% of those surveyed feel "very confidant," the government agencies can keep their records private. And when it comes to online services, the trustworthiness goes down.
76% of adults say they are “not too confident” or “not at all confident” that records of their activity maintained by the online advertisers who place ads on the websites they visit will remain private and secure.
69% of adults say they are not confident that records of their activity maintained by the social media sites they use will remain private and secure.
66% of adults say they are not confident that records of their activity maintained by search engine providers will remain private and secure.
66% say they are not confident that records of their activity collected by the online video sites they use will remain private and secure.
The Pew Survey shows the lengths people will go to ensure a modicum of privacy (clearing cookies, using temporary email addresses, giving inaccurate info about themselves, etc.) and are calling for statue of limitations on how long their information can be kept. They call it right to be forgotten in Europe, because privacy is something Europeans are still interested in. Just ask Google.
The article goes on to point out that for every economic critic of Big Tech there are moralists and privacy rights advocates, too. While still others are dismayed by the walk-and-text, text-and-drive, sex-and-text phenomenon that has altered our lives because the constant need for smart phone companionship has caused us to live in a world where we document everything, appreciate nothing, because we're always so distracted.
Again no argument there.
The Post article also profiles a few other "skeptics," including Jaron Lanier. In case you are unfamiliar with him, Lanier:
Lanier has been a founder or principal of four startups that were either directly or indirectly acquired by Oracle, Adobe, Google, and Pfizer. From 1997 to 2001, Lanier was the Chief Scientist of Advanced Network and Services, which contained the Engineering Office of Internet2, and served as the Lead Scientist of the National Tele-immersion Initiative, a coalition of research universities studying advanced applications for Internet2. The Initiative demonstrated the first prototypes of tele-immersion in 2000. From 2001 to 2004 he was Visiting Scientist at Silicon Graphics Inc., where he developed solutions to core problems in telepresence and tele-immersion. He was Scholar at Large for Microsoft from 2006 to 2009, and Interdisciplinary Scientist at Microsoft Research from 2009 forward.
And while they devoted more than enough time to his dreadlocks, Lanier a true thinker with a very measured concern. His "broadest argument is that technological change involves choices. Bad decisions will lock us into bad systems. We collectively decided, for example, to trade our privacy for free Internet service."
The article started getting interesting when its author, Joel Achenbach, started bringing in the other side of the argument. Enter Robert Atkinson from stage right. A top advocate of the tech world and President of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. The article mentions that the ITIF receives about "two-thirds of its funding from tech companies," but neglects to mention which ones. I don't suppose you'd be surprised to find out Google was one of them though, right? Atkinson, like most inside the beltway hacks who are owned by big business, resorts to name calling whenever a dissenting opinion appears to upset his cash flow. And so, anyone who disagrees with so-called Tech-Progressivism is called a Neo-Luddite.
The Post article describes Atkinson as being "worried that books by people such as Astra Taylor will create a thought contagion that will infect Washington policymaking. In his view, there are two types of Luddites: the old-fashioned hand-wringers who are spooked by anything new and innovative, and the “soft” Luddites — he would put Taylor in that category — who say they embrace technology but want to go slower, with more European-style regulations."
Because God forbid we put our faith in Big Tech Google-owned companies Youtube, who are busy monitoring their jihadi video problem to fix it. We should just accept Malvertising is just the collateral damage when you're busy innovating. Same with Silk Road or Grooveshark. There's certainly nothing nefarious about the NSA. And we should believe all tech innovators when they say they have our best interest at heart (which should include Monsanto, too, no?)
Atkinson is so pleased with the soundbite worthy Neo-Luddite phrase (word association of course being Neo-Con and Neo-Nazi) and his condescending attitude towards those who might not agree with his funders that his think tank comes up with a list of innovation killers every year. This annual fuck you to anyone with a dissenting opinion on the matter of technology is so arrogant just today even Gizmodo, wrote an article pointing out its simplistic flaws, at least when it comes to AI.
So on the one hand of the debate you have people who helped create the technology who are championing an ethical use of it, or activists who want us to spend less time with gadgets, who may not believe a centralized system is the best way to go with so many flaws, and are willing to admit that globalization isn't the utopian dream we were promised, much like our use of the internet. And other the other hand, you have yet another think tank funded by Big Tech who want to shut down all dissenting opinion from The People and want us to blindly put our faith in Progressive Tech no matter what because the word Progress is right there, sorry but I'll keep my tin foil hat.
The Washington Post is owned by none other than Amazon founded Jeff Bezos. If the Tech progressives keep buying up newspapers we can expect to see less dissent, except of course from independently owned and operated organizations, this one included.