Will technology make things worse?

technology not the answerIn an impressively long article UK Guardian reporter Evgeny Morozov argues that a new form of technology “algorithmic regulation” would destroy the welfare state and end any possibility of the progressive ideal.

Algorithmic regulation, a term being tossed about by luminaries such as “visionary” Tim O’Reilly, means a method of using sets of instructions (algorithms) to run civilization rather than traditional government. If this sounds like an apt description of Copiosis, you’d be right.

Algorithms are used all over the place. They have recently been made famous by Google, as the company’s success is largely based on secret sets of computer instructions which make their search (and now their advertising) so powerful.

Morozov argues in this piece that extreme hubris is required to think you’re going to go from running the internet to running society with technology that replaces politics. He points to decades-old examples of failed, quaint attempts to offer such solutions. Then argues that given the state of politics and markets today algorithmic regulation can do nothing more than reinforce current inequalities.

Or make them worse.

We must acknowledge, all things being as they are today, there could be little hope for thinking such a solution could cause the global transformation most people want to see. What Morozov doesn’t acknowledge is a shift has occurred wherein people aren’t going to stand for more of the same or worse. “People” includes innovative private citizens working at this very moment on ways to make the world we all know is possible, possible.

Could you have predicted Twitter?

Cisco once posted statistics showing that most – like 85 percent – innovations are complete surprises. Even more so those that are completely disruptive. Yes, algorithmic regulation is exactly the means we believe Copiosis can use to transform the planet. But our innovation also includes something Morozov doesn’t acknowledge: that current governments and markets will be made irrelevant with algorithmic regulation. Instead of layering this technology solution on top of a failed and failing system, we intend to replace these systems with a better one, where all basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter, education and healthcare) are provided to all at no cost to them, where innovation is rewarded highly, where the new system is open-sourced and self-correcting. Where there is no incentive for insurance companies to use algorithmic regulation to crush people with more and more responsibility for their own health, security and safety as Morozov writes. Yes, we envision the welfare state becoming a thing of the past, because we’ve replaced it with something better and making everyone rich in the process.

Granted, Morozov offers progressives reading his piece minor suggestions to prevent the outcome he envisions. His suggestions are lacking creativity and imagination though. We don’t blame him though because it’s hard to come up with better alternatives when you’re focused only on the problems.

That’s not a problem for us.

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