The Freedom Fighter’s Dilemma – The Economic Times
Musk has his fanboys and detractors, as you’d expect from a capitalist with libertarian characteristics who looks like something out of an Ayn Rand novel. In another era, he would have been considered a “professional futurist” trying to put his theories into practice. Colonizing alien real estate, ending climate damage, nurturing the will to choose a good fight against authoritarian figures – he recently challenged Vladimir Putin to a ‘single fight’ via his favorite medium: Twitter – Musk is making us all cynical at because of his good intentions. But like the Scarecrow in L Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. said: ‘…we were told that Oz is a good wizard.’ Musk, in this age of moral relativism and fluidity of values, wants to be seen as a good wizard. Good for him.
So now he’s acquired the contemporary tool best suited to cast kindness – and its kissing cousin, fairness. In his own words, uninterrupted by opinion, unimpeded by context: “Because Twitter serves as a de facto public square, failure to uphold the principles of free speech fundamentally undermines democracy,” “If our Twitter bid succeeds, we’ll defeat spambots or die trying! And authenticate all real humans.
Tech Such optimism Seriously?
And in the tweet announcing its acquisition: “Freedom of expression is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital public square where questions vital to the future of humanity are debated” and “I want also making Twitter better than ever improving the product with new features, making algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating spam bots and authenticating all humans What he seems to be saying is that under his watch and his pocket, the owner of Tesla-Space X will take the tech-focused megaphone by the horns and scrap his current “narrative enforcement” regime that is charged against “a type of free speech” that current gatekeepers of Twitter – also good wizards, in their own books – find it inconvenient, even dangerous, thereby short-circuiting the very notion of free speech. In other words, Musk is a free speech absolutist (self proclaimed) the kind that classic rock liberals will whitewash upon seeing his punk rock sensibilities.
In his 2002 book, The Winged Gospel, Joseph Corn describes the rapture that accompanied airplane and flight in the 1920s-1930s: ‘[Most people] expected the airplane to promote democracy, equality and freedom, to improve public taste and culture, to purge the world of war and violence; and even to give birth to a new type of human being. Similar expectations accompanied the advent of radio, with Gerald Swope, president of the General Electric Company, hailing the new technology in 1921 as “a means of general and perpetual peace on Earth” and others praising its ability to ” dispense with political intermediaries”. .
The same enthusiasm – and subsequent disappointment – has accompanied television, computers, the Internet and now Twitter. As technology historian David Noble writes in his 1984 book Forces of Production, “Technology leads a double life, one that conforms to the intentions of designers and the interests of power, and another that contradicts them. — acting behind the backs of their architects to cede unforeseen consequences and unforeseen possibilities. Musk, according to his expressed intentions, believes that the control of “power interests” only amplifies these interests, polarizing opinions and their shareholders in an open battle, as they do today under the influence of Twitter and para.
One man’s tweet, another man’s sour
He wants a highway of information and opinion, not only to level the field of speech, but – even if he is perhaps the only non-politician who does not hesitate to say so – to create a world better. This means Twitter’s Oz crosses various jurisdictions where Musk’s “de facto public square” could end up like places like Tiananmen and Tahrir, Wall Street, Maidan Nezalezhnosti and Shaheen Bagh.
Musk’s plans with Twitter are – there’s no escaping the word – radical. But as Evgeny Morozov, author of The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate the World, writes, “Despite all the rhetoric of a ‘free trade zone’ on the Internet, will the United States accept an Internet that includes Thai child pornography, Albanian Telemedicians, Cayman Island tax cheats, Monegasque gambling, Nigerian blue sky action plans, Cuban mail order catalogs?” – while gasping at, say, South Korean lawmakers wanting citizens be banned from visiting North Korean websites?” Such a cacophony is not lost on authoritarian governments, who take every opportunity to introduce their own internet controls and justify them based on a greater web regulation by their peers in the West.”
Like the airplane, television, computer and internet that preceded this device that will now ostensibly “unleash free speech,” Twitter’s 217 million growing users in the world understand the contradiction inherent in the proclamation “Forbidding is forbidden”. But more power to Musk for trying — or, in his words, “dying trying.”