ThoughtStorms Wiki

Context: TheUltimatePlatformWar

(ReadWith) MachineGatekeepers


It's true, AlwaysOnPanopticon means a level of surveillance beyond anything that any totalitarianism ever dreamed of.

We have this because the technology is available.

But it's worse than this. There are some people who always think government tends towards totalitarianism when the technology enables it.

And that's probably true.

But it's worst than that too.

The truth is that technology has made everything stark. Thrown everything into black-and-white. There are no grey areas even possible in an algorithmic world.

And while it's absolutely true that government is seeking totalitarian control over everything. It's also true that if the government CAN'T have control over everything, then it becomes nothing and loses all power. Because the same algorithmic technology that enables such total control, also enables total escape through the smallest cracks.

A currency which can't be fiscalized and taxed by the government will end up driving out a currency that can be. A space which can freely spread lies without restriction will drive out truth.

We're thrown into a battle which is existential for both sides : for freedom on one side, and 'the state' / 'civilization' on the other.

Only one can survive this. Either the technology empowers the state to survive and continue to manage the economy, and needs of life of the citizens. And the cost is freedom in any recognisable form.

Or the technology super-empowers netocratic 'free-agents' (from terrorist networks, to crime syndicates, to conspiracists and disinformation merchants) to drive society into chaos, strife and a civil war of all against all.

We see both tendencies today : governments desperately trying to cling on to and shore up their control with ever more draconian technological oppression. AND the tendency for every space that is free from control to deteriorate into unconstrained bullying and misinformation.

Twenty years ago we could be optimistic that on a free internet, the good would drive out the bad. The social media experiment we've just run demonstrates the opposite: EVERY platform without top-down control ends up with the bad driving out of the good. With more lies. More disinformation. And users who know and understand less, as their filter-bubbles get taken over by conspiracy theories.

And everyone feels more stressed, angry and in a mood to blame each other.

You are an idiot if you think that government can be trusted to run a totalitarian society without abusing its position.

And you are ALSO an idiot if you think that any space free from government / governance won't end up a toxic mental wasteland.

"Civilization" desperately NEEDS a way to find a balance between the two extremes. And that's exactly what technology has stolen from us.

Because that balance used to be mediated by the free discretion and decision-making of the humans in the loop. The secret policeman who was too lazy to chase something up. The politician whose anti-gay prejudice was tempered when his son came out. The bureaucrat who recognised an injustice and pushed back on her boss.

In the age of algorithms, all this goes away. There are no grey areas. Because there are no humans exercising discretion. There are just whatever rules are in code. Do we add a rule for this or not? Do we check if people are thinking or doing this, or not?