Sunday, April 20, 2014

Net World

Esther Dyson

How has the Internet changed the nature of government? Does increased connectivity expand individual freedom, or merely expose us to greater official and commercial surveillance? How will intellectual property evolve in an age of costless copying and peer-to-peer file sharing? Can online social networking become anti-social?

Today’s information technologies deal with the essence of human society: communication between people. They are now as ubiquitous as electricity, driving social and economic change at a faster pace than at any time in history. But, as with all technology, how they are used – productively or wastefully, to tyrannize or to liberate, to enrich or to exploit – remains a matter of human choice. As we head toward a densely networked world in which people, companies, and governments everywhere can, for good or ill, interact and be acted upon instantly, it is not too soon to ask: what do we really want information technology to do?

Esther Dyson was one of the first people to confront and analyze the implications of our digital age – its impact on privacy, security, creativity, and politics – and remains one of its boldest and most prescient voices. As a writer, advocate, and investor in successful Internet start-ups, she has been called "the high priestess of high tech." Her firm EDventure analyzed the impact of emerging technologies and markets on economies and societies, and her monthly newsletter Release 1.0 and her PC Forum meetings shaped not only discussions about the rising power of the World Wide Web, but the Web itself.

The revolution is not over. Each month in Net World, written exclusively for Project Syndicate, Esther Dyson examines the cutting-edge technologies that we may soon take for granted, whether they are breakthroughs in computing, new opportunities for private aviation and commercial space travel, advances in health care, or the emergence of consumer genetics. More importantly, Esther Dyson also illuminates the difficult – and sometimes divisive – choices that we must inevitably make in using them.

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