A special report from the utopian future.
Foreign Policy, May/June 2013
Even comparative moderates in the futurological sweepstakes tend to swoon when the subject is the pace of technology-led change. Ethan Zuckerman, director of MIT’s Center for Civic Media, argues in his new book, Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection, that it is an entirely realistic goal for humans to “take control of our technologies and use them to build the world we want rather than the world we fear.” The present moment, Zuckerman asserts in his book’s concluding sentence, offers “an opportunity to start the process of rewiring the world.”
In his own new book, To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism, cyber-utopianism’s severest and most eloquent critic, Evgeny Morozov, has dubbed such grand assertions about the mastery that we, with or without the help of intelligent machines, can exert over the future of the species the “Superhuman Condition.” (Full disclosure: I blurbed Morozov’s book.)
ROBERT STEELE: This is all lovely — and sophmoric. Until you come to grips with the FACT that governments are corrupt and banks are legalized crime — and take on the hard task of public mobilization to demand electoral reform and ethical evidence-based decision-making — all of this wonderful pontificating is no less and no more than a discourse on how many angels fit on the head of pin. The truth at any cost lowers all other costs. What I read here — all four screens — iS meta-pontifical waxing eloquent on other pontificators, all of whom ignore the fact that technology will never rise to its full potential as long as we allow governments and corporations to retard the future for the sake of their selfish legacy investments, and as long as we as a people lack both ethics and education.