How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy (t3knomanser) wrote,
How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy

The Latest Fearmongering

As we all know, the Internet is evil. The bottom-up approach, the easy access, the quick transfer of information and ideas from place to place- it's unamerican. It supports terrorism!

I'm not going to get tinfoil here. I do not believe that there is an organized conspiracy that seeks to undermine the core working principles of the Internet and turn us into China. I do think, however, that the Old Guard power-brokers are concerned over the force it represents, and their confusion and fear leads to things like this.

Our brains haven't caught up with our powers of communication. In the environment in which our brains evolved, communication was entirely word-of-mouth. There were no recorded images of events. The only way to see a lion eating a villager was if a lion was actually eating one of your friends. Survival demands a response. Threats are immediate.

In a word-of-mouth society, if you know about a threat, it is probably immediate enough to require action. We spent most of our evolutionary history developing according to that premise. Writing is only about 5,000 years old. TV less than a century, and the Internet a bit more than a decade out of infancy.

When we watched the World Trade Center collapse in 2001, it had an incredible immediacy. The emotional content thwarted the most stoic of minds, and the scale boggled us. The threat seemed very, very immediate. Our brains have a very hard time dealing with the fact that it is extremely improbable, and will probably not be repeated on any useful time scale. Even if it were, it almost certainly wouldn't involve you or anyone you know.

But your brain actively tries to override it. You saw it happen. It doesn't matter that it was piped into your living room from hundreds or thousands of miles away. You saw it. That means it happened within the range of your vision, and that means it's a real, credible threat that needs an immediate response!

The same is true of so-called "Internet Predators". There is a minority of people trolling the Internet for under-age kids to have sex with. The odds of your minor encountering one are vanishingly small. But we see them on TV, in the newspaper- even through Internet news outlets, and our brains immediately react. This is a threat, and it is within our sensory range, that means DO SOMETHING NOW.

Now, no one ever died by overestimating the risks. But one has to wonder what kind of society we are going to develop by being enslaved to our instincts.
Tags: bad ideas, evolution, idiots, internet, politics, technology

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