I remember the early Internet as a place of wonder and infinite possibilities. A place where hackers dethroned the old gatekeepers, where net neutrality meant equal access and equal opportunities, and where newly anointed geeks were set on democratising the world’s information.
It is time to take a long hard look at where we have ended up, and consider whether the Internet does more harm than good in terms of our quality of life. The rise of surveillance capitalism and the emergence of advertising as the predominant revenue model for the web threatens our privacy and basic freedom. An Internet increasingly dominated by self-interested, non-interrogable, and recently self-modifying algorithms means an ever more addictive user experience and a radically changing sense of identity. The dominance of algorithms means increased dependency on the digital, loss of basic human skills, and an inability to op-out.
Is the Internet a net-negative? Should we write this experiment off? Can we pivot our way out of this mess or have we passed a point-of no return?