decentralization   1821

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Yuval Noah Harari: Why fascism is so tempting -- and how your data could power it | TED Talk
"...usually, when we talk about the ills of fascism, we do so in an ineffective way, because we tend to depict fascism as a hideous monster, without really explaining what was so seductive about it. It's a bit like these Hollywood movies that depict the bad guys -- Voldemort or Sauron or Darth Vader -- as ugly and mean and cruel. They're cruel even to their own supporters. When I see these movies, I never understand -- why would anybody be tempted to follow a disgusting creep like Voldemort? The problem with evil is that in real life, evil doesn't necessarily look ugly. It can look very beautiful. This is something that Christianity knew very well, which is why in Christian art, as [opposed to] Hollywood, Satan is usually depicted as a gorgeous hunk. This is why it's so difficult to resist the temptations of Satan, and why it is also difficult to resist the temptations of fascism." 

"Fascism makes people see themselves as belonging to the most beautiful and most important thing in the world -- the nation. And then people think, "Well, they taught us that fascism is ugly. But when I look in the mirror, I see something very beautiful, so I can't be a fascist, right?" Wrong. That's the problem with fascism. When you look in the fascist mirror, you see yourself as far more beautiful than you really are. In the 1930s, when Germans looked in the fascist mirror, they saw Germany as the most beautiful thing in the world. If today, Russians look in the fascist mirror, they will see Russia as the most beautiful thing in the world. And if Israelis look in the fascist mirror, they will see Israel as the most beautiful thing in the world. This does not mean that we are now facing a rerun of the 1930s. 

Fascism and dictatorships might come back, but they will come back in a new form, a form which is much more relevant to the new technological realities of the 21st century. In ancient times, land was the most important asset in the world. Politics, therefore, was the struggle to control land. And dictatorship meant that all the land was owned by a single ruler or by a small oligarch. And in the modern age, machines became more important than land. Politics became the struggle to control the machines. And dictatorship meant that too many of the machines became concentrated in the hands of the government or of a small elite. Now data is replacing both land and machines as the most important asset. Politics becomes the struggle to control the flows of data. And dictatorship now means that too much data is being concentrated in the hands of the government or of a small elite. 

The greatest danger that now faces liberal democracy is that the revolution in information technology will make dictatorships more efficient than democracies." 

A dictator may not be able to provide me with good health care, but he will be able to make me love him and to make me hate the opposition. Democracy will find it difficult to survive such a development because, in the end, democracy is not based on human rationality; it's based on human feelings. During elections and referendums, you're not being asked, "What do you think?" You're actually being asked, "How do you feel?" And if somebody can manipulate your emotions effectively, democracy will become an emotional puppet show.

So what can we do to prevent the return of fascism and the rise of new dictatorships? The number one question that we face is: Who controls the data? If you are an engineer, then find ways to prevent too much data from being concentrated in too few hands. And find ways to make sure the distributed data processing is at least as efficient as centralized data processing. This will be the best safeguard for democracy. As for the rest of us who are not engineers, the number one question facing us is how not to allow ourselves to be manipulated by those who control the data.

The enemies of liberal democracy, they have a method. They hack our feelings. Not our emails, not our bank accounts -- they hack our feelings of fear and hate and vanity, and then use these feelings to polarize and destroy democracy from within. This is actually a method that Silicon Valley pioneered in order to sell us products. But now, the enemies of democracy are using this very method to sell us fear and hate and vanity. They cannot create these feelings out of nothing. So they get to know our own preexisting weaknesses. And then use them against us. And it is therefore the responsibility of all of us to get to know our weaknesses and make sure that they do not become a weapon in the hands of the enemies of democracy.

Getting to know our own weaknesses will also help us to avoid the trap of the fascist mirror. As we explained earlier, fascism exploits our vanity. It makes us see ourselves as far more beautiful than we really are. This is the seduction. But if you really know yourself, you will not fall for this kind of flattery. If somebody puts a mirror in front of your eyes that hides all your ugly bits and makes you see yourself as far more beautiful and far more important than you really are, just break that mirror.
authoritarianism  tech  blockchain  decentralization 
23 hours ago by corrales
Nutty Computer
An enjoyable node in the artisanal web.
web  weblogs  decentralization 
3 days ago by pb
Gab, Mastodon And The Challenges Of Content Moderation On A More Distributed Social Network | Techdirt
Mastodon is facing a test of its architecture and it sounds like it’s mostly passing.
decentralization  social  media 
4 days ago by pb
How to run a small social network site for your friends
Darius Kazemi describes running a modified Mastodon instance for 50 friends. This would be a good future for social media.
onfocus  social  community  mastodon  decentralization  software 
5 days ago by pb

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