Privacy SOS

“Our media consume us, and spit in the government’s cup.”

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Columbia law professor and free software advocate Eben Moglen makes some very provocative arguments in this May 2012 re:Publica talk in Berlin. He says that  those of us living today will decide how the integration of neurotechnology and our physical bodies will interact for generations to come, shaping not only the landscape of human innovation but also the possibility for freedom in a world wherein our computer networks and our bodies cease to exist independently of the other.

The fate of freedom of thought, indeed the fate of human freedom altogether, everything that we have fought for for a thousand years, will depend upon the neuroanatomy of that network. Ours are the last generation of human brains that will be formed without contact with the net. From here on out, every human brain, by two generations from now every single human brain, will be formed from early life in direct connection to the network. Humanity will become a superorganism in which each of us is but a neuron in the brain. And we are describing now, now, all of us, now, this generation, unique in the history of the human race, in this generation we will decide how that network is organized. Unfortunately we are beginning badly. 

Here's the problem: We grew up to be consumers of media, that's what they taught us, we're consumers of media. Now media is consuming us. The things we read watch us read them. The things we listen to listen to us listen to them. We are tracked, we are monitored, we are predicted by the media we use.

Listen to the talk. It raises a number of extremely relevant questions about our media, "freedom of thought and the fate of human freedom."

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.