Mark Zuckerberg's Ring of Power
Learning to appreciate that control is an illusion is hard, especially when we are prepared to sacrifice almost everything, to pay any price, to control others. But if we are to stop others – Mark Zuckerberg, for example – from controlling us, it is a lesson we must learn.
ATHENS – Once upon a time, in the ancient kingdom of Lydia, a shepherd called Gyges found a magic ring, which, when rotated on his finger, made him invisible. So, Gyges walked unseen into the royal palace, seduced the queen, murdered the king, and installed himself as ruler. If you were to discover such a ring or another device that granted you exorbitant power, Socrates asked, would it be wise to use it to do or get whatever you want?
Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement of some fabulous digital metaverse awaiting humanity gives new pertinence to Socrates’ answer: People should renounce excessive power and, in particular, any device capable of granting too many of our wishes.
Was Socrates right? Would reasonable people renounce the ring? Should they?