Evgeny Morozov

In: "To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism"

If “the Net” does have a voice when it speaks to us, it’s that of a schizophrenic.

It’s this propensity to view “the Internet” as a source of wisdom and policy advice that transforms it from a fairly uninteresting set of cables and network routers into a seductive and exciting ideology—perhaps today’s über-ideology.

The best explanation of Wikipedia is what its own insiders like to say: Wikipedia works in practice but not in theory.

Internet-centrism has rendered many of us oblivious to the fact that a number of these efforts are driven by old and rather sinister logics that have nothing to do with digital technologies.

It’s time we abandon the chief tenet of Internet-centrism and stop conflating physical networks with the ideologies that run through them. We should not be presenting those ideologies as inevitable and natural products of these physical networks when we know that these ideologies are contingent and perishable and probably influenced by the deep coffers of Silicon Valley.

democracy is a complex affair in which, in the absence of disappointments, there would never be any accomplishments.

We must resist the temptation to accept “the Internet’s” gift, which might be little more than a curse in disguise.

it’s never been cheaper to act on one’s stupidity.

The problem is this: since innovation is seen as having only positive effects, few are prepared to examine its unintended consequences; as such, most innovations are presumed to be self-evidently good.

There are few empirically rigorous studies of Moore’s law, but Finnish innovation scholar Ilkka Tuomi has done perhaps the most impressive work, digging up industry data, calculating actual growth rates, and tracking various expressions and references to Moore’s law in the media. Tuomi’s conclusion? “Strictly speaking there is no such Law. Most discussions that quote Moore’s Law are historically inaccurate and extend its scope far beyond available empirical evidence,” he writes. Furthermore, notes Tuomi, “sociologically Moore’s Law is a fascinating case of how myths are manufactured in the modern society and how such myths rapidly propagate into scientific articles, speeches of leading industrialists, and government policy reports around the world.”

That this “what technology wants” kind of discourse allows technology companies to present their business strategies as a natural unfolding of history is not something we should treat lightly. Technology wants nothing—and neither does “the Internet.”

food becomes just another way of minimizing the risks of getting sick rather than a way of enjoying our limited time on this planet.

notes Todorov, “it is baffling that the ability computers have to save information is termed memory, since they lack a basic feature of memory, the ability to select.” In other words, retention or storage of information without selection is not memory—at least not as we use the term when we speak of the human condition.

Solutionism cannot replace moral reasoning; we should not let it dictate solutions presumed to be right only by virtue of being easy.

almost every new invention is met with great expectations that it will promote human understanding.

the authenticity rhetoric of Facebook is strikingly similar to the public debates in 1950s America over uniformity (everyone living in mass society is essentially the same) was a greater sin than conformity (some people adopt ideas, habits, and beliefs only to get along)

Left unchecked, technology ushers in what Neil Postman called “technopoly”—a society in which “the culture seeks its authorisation in technology, finds its satisfactions in technology, and takes its orders from technology.”

To quote Bernard Crick once again, “Boredom with established truths is a great enemy of free men.”

(...) for the last hundred years or so virtually every generation has felt like it was on the edge of a technological revolution—be it the telegraph age, the radio age, the plastic age, the nuclear age, or the television age—maintaining the myth that our own period is unique and exceptional will hopefully become much harder.