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Democracy and ICT

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David Koepsell

on 20 May 2016

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Transcript of Democracy and ICT

Democracy and ICT
To what extent is ICT an inherently
democratic medium?

How is ICT a democratizing influence
on society?

&
ICT's Architecture of Freedom
The Open Source Society
(and its enemies)

1. From Jacquard Loom to Nanotech: a spectrum
2. Metaphysics and the positive law: what's the matter with ICT?
3. The future of ICT and the future of expression
4. Types, tokens, and change in expression
5. Markets and morals: our expressive future
The nature of the medium of ICT
Is inherently linked to maximal freedom
How do songs, spears, and Jacquard looms relate to expressions?
What relations between ideas and artifacts?
Which is an "expression" and in what manner?
How about the Babbage Engine?
It is a spectrum that links tools like spears, books and printing presses, Jacquard Looms, and the first electronic computers to iPads. It is the same spectrum that will include converging technologies like nanotechnology and synthetic biology. Each of these expressions instantiates more than just the idea of itself, but also numerous other possible ideas. Our modern tools just happen to be very good at allowing us to express new ideas more easily
The parts of electronic digital computers that do the work of storing and conveying information, processing and calculating, happen to be just as physical as the mechanisms of looms, just as real as spear tips and manuscripts. Why should we treat them any differently? Yet this is exactly what happened. Next I will consider the strange consequences of the positive law in our current treatment of ICT, and ask whether and to what extent this has stifled it as a medium of expression, and finally, how this might in turn stifle emerging technologies.
Copyright vs. Patent
A major issue faced by jurists was whether the punched rolls were “made to be addressed to the eye as sheet music” or “form a part of a machine.”
BUT:
The software of a single-purpose digital computer is simply part of the mechanism that makes it function just as it does. The pattern of switches and gates, the firing of electronic signals through a single-purpose digital computer is physically no different than the gears, cranks, levers, and switches of a steam-powered Jacquard Loom with a programmed pattern feeding into it.
The emergence of open source as a development framework for code, and crowd-sourced methods for creative production, are clear examples of how creators are exploiting the material architecture of ICT for its inherently liberating potential. These new techno-social infrastructures engender creative activity beyond the restrictive bounds of the positive law's institutions.
The major trends in the development of technology in general, and ICT technologies in particular are clear enough: smaller, cheaper, more flexible and more energy-efficient devices coupled with decentralization, delocalization and modularization of their constituent components
Current institutional constraints will no longer suffice, and will be worked around.
The key to keep on evolving away from constraining the freedom of expressions in certain novel kinds of media, is to recognize that expressions are all of one kind: the making manifest of some idea into the world. Limits on expression in certain media must be justified by some overwhelming concern.
The question is: will the logic of jailbreaking's legality, alternative app markets, and others like it be applied consistently? Will the efficiency advantage of free innovation trump the incumbency provided by IP on the market? We argue that not only is it ontologically justified, it is also necessary if we want to retain freedom of both markets and expression.
If I sing a song, and you hear it, you can reproduce it without depriving me of anything. This is the distinction between type and token.
Before the positive law created institutions that limit rights to free expression by limiting our abilities to reproduce tokens of certain types at will, other institutions, like guilds, attempted to do so with secrecy and force. The difference in effect on free expression between the threatened violence of a guild and that of the state is a matter only of legal legitimacy. Is the use of force to limit free expression morally justified? Is it necessary? Can it co-exist with further technological innovation on the track laid by ICT? The answer to all of these is: no
As the bridge between type and token grows smaller, the demand for quasi-unlimited freedom of expression continues to grow
Just as alternative approaches to the creation and dissemination of ICT expressions has undermined prior expectations and institutional prejudices, so too will emerging technologies undermine the remnants of the past two hundred years
ICT has paved the way for the total undoing of copyright, and both nanotech and synthetic biology will do likewise for patent.
Freedom of expression has never required originality, nor is there any right to be compensated for expressing one's ideas. We take a chance, and see whether the market values our expressions.
The “hacker” ethos created the ICT age. The desire to liberate expression, to grow a body of communal knowledge, encourage individual entrepreneurship, and respect property rights even while ignoring the myth of rights over types, helped develop the networks and machines that are undoing the past age of media monopolies.
The ethos of ICT is an architecture of freedom, built into its networks and circuits, and demanding that we respond appropriately. The response must be to welcome it, to notice that each new advance in our expression has improved our lives and expanded our freedom.
Based on a co-authored forthcoming chapter
David Koepsell and Philip Seracino Inglott
A view of e-democracy, Based on a co-authored paper by David Koepsell and Floris Kreiken
Popper on The Open Society
Plato makes an argument in favor of "closed
societies" which value stability over freedom
Popper criticizes Plato's view and
embraces in all fields the ideals of
democracy supported by Socrates
Popper argues that Plato's view is
based upon erroneous assumption that history is deterministic - Historicism. He claims this view is unfalsifiable and thus unscientific.
Society moves forward no through historical forces
but through actions of numerous individuals acting in unpredictable ways, and thus is unpredictable
Society must work like science, must be "falsifiable"
individuals must have 1) access to information and
2) a voice
Open Societies:
Fallibilism and "open-source-i-ness"
Monopolies are privileged market positions and are anathema to democracy, especially when
"granted" rather than "earned."
The open society demands less monopoly, and like science it must be collective, communal, and open to change
Society is always a "work in beta"
The "code" of society must be open to both examination and change
so: 1) We should trust the "mob" instead of fearing it
2) Closed systems are anti-democratic
3) Truth is never final
Tools of ICT can be directly applied to solve societal issues, embracing their inherently democratic features, and create even more open societies. Monopolistic tendencies in the technologies, the institutions that govern them, and broader social institutions must be avoided as antithetical to open societies.
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