World Inequality vs. Techno-Liberation

With the important role that technology has played in making better dissidents, it is time for revolutionaries to stop looking at technology as a momentary convenience. Rather, everyone must be on the lookout for liberation technologies, and a brand new perspective is needed for this. Not just communication media empower us all at the individual level. We are also set to be empowered by several potent new technologies that will outgrow the designs of their own creators. Such is the case argued in much greater depth in my recent futurist title, Catalyst: a Techno-Liberation Thesis.

As revealed through several increasing controversies, the internet has given rise to new forms of protest. It has given voices to the voiceless. It has been described as a new frontier by Nicolas Sarkozy, and “Neuland” by Angela Merkel. Social media have been blasted as a “menace” by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. We know this communication menace has aided revolutions that discredited and brought down tyrannical regimes, and has given a platform of global reach and anonymity to pave the way for a new uninhibited global body politic. All these things were unintended by the creators of the internet, yet also they were not accidents. There is a will at work in history, a will to liberation.

The fascination with compacting technology and making it accessible to ever more individuals is incumbent in just about every industry. Far from being the exclusive domain of a few giant corporations, the biotechnology revolution has definite potential to empower everyone, including the weakest element of the global population. Productive capabilities are being shrunken down rapidly with the advancements in 3D printing and biotech, and it is realistic to anticipate further strides. This demonstrates that the internet is not an isolated democratic technology in an ocean of authoritarian technologies. In fact, the self-governed long-term trend of emerging technologies will not move towards monopoly or increased power-concentration, but towards the level world order demanded by the masses of humanity since the French Revolution.

The division of the world into the politically informed and the ignorant is not the only division set to collapse as a result of greater access and circulation of technology and data. The division of labor that accounts for the disparity between the industrialized and impoverished worlds cannot survive the eventual spread of liberation technologies. The rationale for the injustices in the world system cannot survive the explosion of technology in the long term, because eventually the absurd security arguments in defense of monopoly will simply collapse as people pursue what is in their own best interests.

Consider that perhaps the battle is not between peasants and industry, the battle is not between the environment and man, and the battle is also not between Luddites and machines. Perhaps, as many are increasingly realizing, the battle will unfold between liberation technologies and the personages foolish enough to think they can contain them.

Harry J. Bentham is a British futurist blogger who has been a contributor at a number of think tanks including the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies since 2013. His work at Press TV and the multi-faith Beliefnet website has gained increasing attention and praise, including in the international media. Commentaries on political and ethical controversies by Bentham have been published at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, H+ Magazine, Dissident Voice and numerous other publications. He edits The Blog. Read other articles by Harry.