⚡ Causes Of Internet Censorship

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Causes Of Internet Censorship

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Internet Censorship Explained - Computerphile

It's a really odd way to summarise it, but I study every year the Barbie Career of The Year doll , which is always a fascinating moment for seeing what centrist feminism is doing. That's trying to be sort of neutral and pro-women, but stay out of all other politics that they can. In , when Hillary was running, they did a presidential candidate, and this was actually like the sixth president or presidential candidate Barbie that they'd done. They've been doing them from time to time for a long time, but this was the first one in the Career of The Year set.

With career of the year, they are sort of also about teamwork, things like architect, team leading. A movie director, not movie star, movie director. This year's was a music producer, not the rockstar, but the other member of the team. But in they did what was clearly a Hillary-ish, presidential candidate Barbie, and it was very clear that they were very shocked by the result of the election as many were. And in fact, they didn't do a Career of The Year doll the next year. I do not have official understanding of why, but I think they were sort of still sad.

But for , the Career of The Year Barbie was a box set of four: the political candidate, the candidate's campaign manager, the candidate's fundraising manager, and the voter. That's the message we need, right. It's teamwork. It's all of these people and it's not the one, it's everybody, but everybody has to be out there and doing it. And you know that election was a success. That kind of messaging and that realisation that teamwork, not sitting back until the special person solves it is the actual solution. But when we're tired, and surrounded by movies in which Tony Stark has solve global warming by himself, it sure is easier to sit back and say, either there will be a genius who fixes it or nobody can.

You are obviously a novelist, and your series Terra Ignota , what is that about? Ada: Yes. There are different ways to describe it. The quickest is it's old fashioned, big ideas, science fiction in, people will compare it to Neal Stephenson, or to the Foundation Series. But a lot of it is looking at social science stuff. So it takes place on the 25th Century, but it posits that in the 22nd Century, we develop a system of really fast flying, automated, self-driving flying cars.

So fast that you can get from anywhere on earth to anywhere else on earth in about two hours. And once that happens, the whole world is in commuting distance and it's perfectly reasonable to buy a house in the Bahamas, work in Tokyo, have a lunch meeting in Paris, and your spouse also lives in the Bahamas, but works in Buenos Aires, and has a lunch meeting in Antarctica, and an afternoon meeting in Seoul. Once that has been the case for several generations, really only for one and a half generations, people are living where there was a nice house for sale and they needed a house.

People are living near whoever they want to, with their friends. You know, there's nothing to stop you from all buying houses in one neighbourhood, no matter where you work. It rapidly, then in my prediction, if that occurred, it would mean that it no longer makes sense to people for your political allegiance to be to that place where you happened to be born. If the reason you were born there was that nice real estate was available when your parents bought a house. So it posits a transition from geographic nations to non-geographic nations, in which when people come of age, they sign up for being a citizen of the political group that they feel represents them.

It might be France, and it might be Japan and it doesn't matter where you were born. You feel that this is what you're connected to. And some of the political groups that exist in this imagined future are extensions of present day ones, France, Japan, the European union, others are new fully non-geographic nations that people sign up for, and you choose the one whose laws you respect and you think represent your values. And just as ex-pats, who are sort of under their country's laws and sort of under the laws of the town that they're living in, can live under a totally different law from the person living next door. There's no reason you can't live under a different law from the person living next door, when the law is about things that are personal to you, like taxation or whether you can smoke marijuana or not.

The things that are about living together in the area like traffic laws are set by the town, but everything else, five people living together in a house might all be under five different laws. And you just keep track of it by your phone and you choose the legal system you think reflects you, and it makes a buyer's market for citizenship. Because if you don't like what your country is doing, you pick a different one that you like better, and that would create accountability for governments. Right now, you can immigrate, but it's a huge, life ripping up, decade long, extremely difficult process that rips you out of where you've grown up and away from your work. If you can switch countries in 24 hours and the other one said, yes, we would love to have you as a citizen and paying taxes to us instead of to our competitor, please join our country.

You get a very different relationship between citizens. So this imagines a world where this has been the system for quite a while, everyone is used to there being no relation between politics and geography and everyone mixes everywhere. No one ever has the experience of being a majority, everyone is always a minority surrounded by other minorities. There's no such thing as majority in the lived experience of this civilisation.

And then the book looks at how does such a system have tension and competition, when all of the economies are mixed together, When there are no borders on which you can block people or have a border dispute, or fight a battle. So there have been years of world peace. But world peace really means competition through other ways that are not military competition, through economics competition, through sports competition, through propaganda. So it looks at what happens if we have a, a future, which is better than our present, but very much not perfect either. Not a utopia, not a dystopia, but a that is a better future, still needs some work, let's look at the work it needs.

Ada: And then to make it sound insane, it's written in the style of an 18th century philosophical novel based on the works of Diderot and Voltaire, and it has a boy who has the magic power to bring toys to life and all of this sounds like it has nothing to do with the rest of what I described, but the threads weave together. Baiqu: Oh, that's very tantalising. I think a lot of people are going to go and pick up a copy right now. Ada: Books one and two were written as one thing and cut in half. So book one is all set up and all the payoff is in book two. So, you know, read them close together and don't expect a satisfying ending to book one. There's a satisfying ending to books two and three, and the last one. Baiqu: Okay. So we're going to stick with it.

Stick with book one and then yeah build up to book two. I guess next question is, having been someone who studies our past and who has collected a lot of knowledge about our societies over time. What would you recommend as a tip for sounding smart or being smart in a conversation? Ada: I think the best tip for sounding smart is not worrying about sounding smart. That relaxing in and being yourself and saying the things that you're thinking and feeling are going to make more of a difference. Because I think often when you're worrying about sounding smart, that's a warning sign of nervousness, which is then going to make you less able to show who you really are.

So that's the first tip. But the second, read interesting nonfiction because the more different histories you read anywhere and any-when, it doesn't matter. This can be Asia Mesopotamia, it can be modern Vietnam, read any history, you get other ways that the world has worked. Other ways societies have been set up, other challenges that they've met, which will sometimes be similar to what you're looking at. So you can compare them. Or totally different, so you can say, oh, this seems like a very new problem, in past situations it would have been this other way. It gives you a huge pallet of how these things actually worked.

I'm involved in a collaboration with a number of other scholars and also activists looking at censorship. Because right now we have Big Tech companies who are realising that there has to be some censorship on their social media, because otherwise it turns into nothing but troll photos of penises being put there. So what do you do? They're trying to sort of improvise this. This is not the first time human beings have realised that they need to design a censorship system, or believed that they needed to design a censorship system. It's not even the first time we've lived in an information revolution.

The exact same sequence of crises happened when we invented radio, when we invented the printing press. Every time information can move faster, it has the same sequence of effects, the key one being what my colleague Kathleen Belew calls the early adopter effect. Whenever there's a new info technology, being one of the first users of it takes work. You have to buy the new thing, you have to learn how to use it, you have to put effort into getting your audience used to it. So you only do it if you have to, which means you only do it if you weren't getting successful communication in the earlier system.

Which means amongst the first adopters are always whoever was being censored by the earlier system. They won't be the only first adopters, but they will always be right in there: whoever was being censored, which means every new information technology is immediately filled with whoever that society is scared of. Because that's the group that that society has been silencing. And it'll be a mix: it'll be people who are speaking a language that's not the dominant language, it'll be like minorities, it might be LGBT groups, and it might be the KKK.

All of these voices that make the culture uncomfortable are suddenly louder, and when they're suddenly louder, the culture feels scared and feels like it needs to censor this, and then develops methods to do so. This was exactly the same in , and , and and these different stages of information revolution as it is today. But almost nobody at these tech groups are looking at earlier information revolutions. You can read Adrian John's brilliant book Piracy , which has a history of copyright and the idea of owning information and information moving.

It talks about printing presses and radio, then you have things to compare stuff to. I think another way to put it is that people are often saying, oh, "blah is the first time ever that X has happened. What's new about the censorship that's being set up on the internet right now is that it's the first time ever anyone has tried to set up a large systematic censorship regime without hiring expert literature people to do it. They're trying to do minimum wage, minimum education, cheap labour, to be the people whose job it is to go through and remove stuff.

Every previous version of this has been different from that. In World War Two, censoring people's letters to keep seditious material and information about troop movements out, who did they hire? They hired college educated journalists and lit majors. Who did the Inquisition hire? They hired college grads. Who did the King of France before the French Revolution hire, he hired literature people. They always hired educated class people who had well paid jobs to sit down in a serious systematic way and think about it.

What the tech world is trying to do is, let's do this as cheaply as possible. We see this as sort of a burden on our costs, that we have to do a minimum amount of this in order to get people to stop yelling at us and make our system minimally usable. But we want to cut corners. That's what is different. The part that's new is not that it's an information revolution, the part that's new is that it's an information revolution that's trying to outsource censorship to very average people instead of to educated people, which has both bad and good effects.

So a historian will always say, X is the same but Y is what's different. And when you've read some history as well, you can do that kind of thing. And I think that makes you not only seem smart, but also be helpful. Baiqu: I was just going to ask, do we want to have successful censorship, but I think that's a whole other conversation. Ada: The brief answer to that is I think we want to have the censorship which minimally limits art, creativity, and expression, and which interferes with those things as little as possible.

We think of it as the natural state of things is no censorship, and then we add censorship and censorship is bad, and the ideal is no censorship. But there are no cases of no censorship, as far back as our written records go. Plato wanted to censor Homer; our ancient records from China are about different rival Confucian factions destroying each other's work and censoring each other; even what we would think of as innocent primitive tribes have taboos about what can be said and who can say it and where.

There's no situation in the history of humanity where there's ever not been any censorship. So it's not helpful to think of it as the world is without censorship and then bad censorship is introduced. What I think is much more useful is to think of it as, censorship is an element of the social periodic table, it's there, it's a thing people impulsively do, and create over and over. But, it can have more and less toxic forms, and it can be there in more and less intense concentrations, right? There's arsenic in your body right now, but there isn't a toxic level of arsenic in your body right now. And that's the key. Can we make the inescapable impulses to want to silence things people think are bad — this is an impulse that every culture has always had, to want to censor things you perceive are bad — can we shape them in the way that is the minimum concentration of that destructive force?

That takes a form that is not hurting art and expression. Can we put that arsenic into non-toxic forms? Baiqu: Yeah. I have to say I'm loving your analogies through this conversation. Very helpful way of framing a complicated topic. Ada, we are gonna move on to our last question. Can I ask you to recommend a piece of music, an article that's left an impression, and a daily habit that you practice, which you think other people I might want to pick up. Ada: I really love complex, layered a cappella music. I compose as well, and my own music is polyphonic a cappella music, mine has Viking themes. There's a lot of gorgeous Renaissance music out there, it sort of moves therapeutically through your body and makes your muscles relax.

There's this one a cappella piece called One by One , in the soundtrack to the Lion King musical, and it's based on one of the instrumental background music pieces that the original lion king film had. And boy, when I'm in a meeting and it's a horrible issue and I'm getting overwhelmed and I say, excuse me, I'm going to go to the bathroom. And this song is a minute and a half, and I feel so refreshed and regenerated afterwards. So it's an odd ball song to recommend, but do not underestimate the lion king musical soundtrack. What was the second Um, it's not an article so much as a particular journalist.

There's a journalist called David M. He's also a historian, late medieval Venice, but he does a lot of wonderfully deep and reflective writing about a mixture of issues. Sort of centring around disability on the one hand and battling alt-right and white supremacist co-option of power on the other. He writes with wonderful reflection. He writes from personal experience, he writes about his family, about his experience with his son who has down syndrome, but also with his daughter who does not, and the effect on families of policy of COVID.

And he really has a historian's method of, of analysing and zooming out and looking at big picture. But also a great journalist's ability to go human interests story. He tweets a lot under Lollardfish is, his Twitter handle. Then for a daily habit, I would recommend a daily habit organising systems. Also known as habit RPG, is a gamified daily habit tracking app. And it's free and you can have it on your phone, also on desktop. And you do it with your friends and you have a little adorable, eight bit character. You could be a wizard or a thief or a fighter, and you make your daily habits, and when you check them off, you do damage to the boss that you're fighting along with your friends as a party.

So like right now, my friends and I are fighting an undead dragon, and I do damage to it every time I remember to take my meds and check off one of my deadlines. And so do my friends, and it's friends who don't interact with me frequently, but I just sort of get a smile every time I see yeah my friend sure hit that dragons today. Baiqu: Okay, thank you. That's very smart. And I like that you go to the bathroom to listen to a piece of music when you're frustrated just to calm down, because music is very therapeutic, but I never thought of doing it in the moment and then coming back feeling a little bit more together and less frustrated. Thank you Ada, it was such a pleasure talking to you. I really, really enjoyed it. And thanks for joining us.

On Progress and Historical Change. Barbie career of the year doll. Terra Ignota Series by Ada Palmer. Not yet a subscriber? Every day, The Browser Newsletters sends you five fascinating pieces of writing to subscribe and delight you, each one hand-picked and beautifully capsuled by our editors Caroline Crampton and Robert Cottrell. In a world consumed by bots, noise and breaking-news, The Browser gives you carefully-curated writing of lasting value.

Ada: Thank you. It's a lot of fun. What history and science fiction have in common Baiqu: So you focus specifically on the Renaissance and the history of books and censorship, and you also write science fiction and fantasy. And I'm not the only one. Why we keep telling the myth of a good Renaissance and bad Middle Ages Baiqu: So maybe we should encourage all historians to start writing science fiction and hopefully give us a guide to what the future might hold.

Key elements of that fight include everything from abortion to guns to faith. Those are areas with a wide range of opinions just in the U. But global attitudes can also influence the tech companies on issues like these. One of the powerful tools deployed by Big Tech to squelch free speech is the relatively new idea of fact-checkers. In theory, these organizations target misstatements of fact. In practice, fact-checkers have become narrative police — targeting conservative content far more than liberal.

The internet and social media were made possible by government regulation. Now, the reach of social media companies crosses into pretty much every field of endeavor from finance and speech to news and entertainment. These policies, regulations and laws will determine the future of the internet for users in the U. October 7, October 6, October 5, October 4, CensorTrack Tech Company Bias. Fact-Checker Spin. Censorship By Issue. Key Players. Policy Remedies. Key Players View More Cases.

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