Inside the digital society
David Souter writes a weekly column for APC, looking at different aspects of the information society, development and rights. David’s pieces take a fresh look at many of the issues that concern APC and its members, with the aim of provoking discussion and debate. Issues covered include internet governance and sustainable development, human rights and the environment, policy, practice and the use of ICTs by individuals and communities.
This story’s about many things: the power that data gives to data companies like Facebook; the potential that it gives those companies and others to influence opinion; the impact of new media on old, on politics and populism.
Instead of choosing between many different internet platforms, we’re dependent on a few. So what went wrong (or right, depending on your point of view)?
Last week I wrote about the relationship between innovation and regulation in communications. I identified six areas of that relationship which I said I’d write about over the next few months. First up, this week and next, is competition. This week some history and ‘points of principle’; next week, some implications for today/tomorrow.
This week: a fundamental question about the balance between innovation, commercial interests and the regulation of the Internet: between ‘permissionless innovation’, which has been the norm online, and the ‘precautionary principle’ which is the norm in other economic sectors.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of this year’s hottest topics. Governments and businesses are investing big-time (China’s said by some to be best placed). Wide-eyed consultancies spell out the wonders they foresee ahead (with predictions of big dollars). Androids and robots stalk the silver screen.
Last week I participated in / facilitated a workshop on Africa’s research priorities for the Information Society. What follows are some thoughts arising.
I’ve been attending the second Internet and Jurisdiction Conference in Ottawa. This post is not a comment on the conference but on the context for resolving issues that it raises.
I don’t have a Facebook profile. People ask me why I don’t. After all, it seems, this puts me in the minority among users of the Internet worldwide. Answering this question’s made me consider my relationship with social media, and social media’s relationship with our society.
Twenty years ago, in 1998, the UK Department for International Development asked me to help it ‘determine the value of involvement in information and communication technology in support of its objective of eliminating poverty in poorer countries.’ I’ve just re-read the paper and the presentation that I gave in response to that invitation. They’re a telling reminder of what’s changed a...