How do we avoid a Brave New World, reverse dystopic trends?

If you have read some of the Examples of what is coming to us in the near future and watched the Disturbing must-see Documentary on our Ongoing AI Revolution then you understand that we are at a turning point in history!

Our current and future technologies are neutral, and they have the potential to create true Utopia, or they may lead us into Dystopia. While I - and I think you with me - hope for the former to occur, our current reality and trends in society make the latter option ever more likely to determine our future!

So that leads to the question what we can do to avoid this?

What can we do about it?

I would like to share this interesting and intelligent read with you, containing a review, and some very accurate quotes of the book Brave New World Revisited by Michael Krieger, which contains some serious warnings as well as some points of light:

Let me copy the positive quotes in Huxley’s excellent analysis from the article here:

"Take the right to vote. In principle, it is a great privilege. In practice, as recent history has repeatedly shown, the right to vote, by itself, is no guarantee of liberty. Therefore, if you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum, break up modern society’s merely func­tional collectives into self-governing, voluntarily cooperating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Govern­ment."

So we should vote, and organize into self-governing that cooperate with others and can co-exist with existing systems…

"Therefore, if you wish to avoid the spiritual impoverishment of individuals and whole societies, leave the metropolis and revive the small country community, or alternately humanize the me­tropolis by creating within its network of mechanical organization the urban equivalents of small country communities, in which individuals can meet and co­operate as complete persons, not as the mere embodi­ments of specialized functions."

So we should return to real human values and emotions, which we have come to forget in our hectic lives, and actively love and help our fellow human beings…

There are more great works by Michael Krieger, such as the 4-part series Decentralize or Die:

Also see our ongoing discussions:

3 Likes

It’s not hopelesness, it’s about to realize who we actually are. After it will be easier to fix the problems. Because a lot of people now wearing a rose colored glasses. I remember when Facebook started, Zuckerberg and a lot of other People, dreamed how Facebook will change the world for better and makes everybody’s happy.
Who ruined the “Facebook dream”, users or Zuckerberg and his team?

1 Like

“The urban equivalents of small country communities” is a lovely way to put it! The best cities do empower their residents and catalyze them into neighborhoods, overlapping community groups, artistic and regional and business and charitable networks. And there is something here we can more rapidly experiment with in online spaces, should we care to.

Also, rather than asking “how do we avoid?” we might ask “how do we recover from, locally and decentrally?” since these sorts of dystopias occur all the time at different scales. If we become depressed at that point and feel we have failed, nothing good comes of it. But if this leads to practicing methods of recovery, all the better for robust civilization.

Any new tool, like AI or universal social networks or universal personal phones, do allow some things to become much better, and others worse. It’s not the fault of any part of the system: we need to be able to visualize the eqiulibria we want to head towards, and ways to get there; not just a few narrow dimensions of change to push as far and fast as possible.

2 Likes

Yes we need to visualize and analyze. It’s very possible that we could not have both, “big” private life and happy future Society where everybody is equal. Maybe one has to be sacrificed?

2 posts were split to a new topic: Closing account

The first thing that is needed to revert dystopic trends is Awareness! Only awareness leads to Action and chances to turn the tide.

To repeat the urgent message of the CHT: It is Democracy that is at stake!
And not ‘just’ democracy in some countries, but democracy as a whole!! Democracy as a working model to govern our society.

The strategies outlined in the following article - while applying mostly to Russia - can be seen worldwide. Though they are adapted to individual countries, regions and belief systems… and technology is the power tool to make these strategies very effective and successful.

Wherever you are, avoid that The Road to Unfreedom, will be your road as well! Active democracy needs active participation.

I’ve just found and joined this community and I’m so glad to see that you’ve posted about Tim Snyder’s work. It’s through him, and the insights and analysis he offers, that I came to understand what happened in the presidential election and what is continuing to happen every day. I’ve now started reading about propaganda bots and reading work at the Alliance for Security Democracy of the German Marshall Fund. Their Hamilton 68 project provides a disinformation dashboard that shows how Russian associated bots are driving the trending of Twitter hashtags. Tim Snyder’s Youtube series of 9 short talks is remarkable and well worth watching. Tim’s is a very important voice in this work.

3 Likes

Ah, @khkey, I found them on the Tim Snyder channel on YouTube, and also apparently The Road to Unfreedom book presentation speech by him is online. Thanks :+1:

In a number of topics the Netflix hit-series Black Mirror has been mentioned. The series depicts some realistic scenario’s of possible dystopic futures.

Interestingly there this has been taken as a good opportunity to design solutions that go against these scenario’s:

“I think we need optimists, because just critiquing where technology is taking us is not going to make things change,” Maes said. “We need people who design new systems that are more aligned with people’s real, true interests and goals. We need people who will be changing the future for the better.”

And it has been addressed in a workshop part of the WWW’18 proceedings, Re-coding Black Mirror, that has led to publication of a number of scientific papers, and The morning paper is now dedicating a multi-part series of articles to these papers:

This reviewer seems to have a different perspective.

Some (very popular) TED talks to share, that should be part of this topic (thank you, Hans Haakman).

One by Zeynep Tufekci · Techno-sociologist (already mentioned as link by @khkey and the other by Cathy O’Neil · Mathematician, data scientist…

“We’re building an artificial intelligence-powered dystopia, one click at a time, says techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. In an eye-opening talk, she details how the same algorithms companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon use to get you to click on ads are also used to organize your access to political and social information. And the machines aren’t even the real threat. What we need to understand is how the powerful might use AI to control us – and what we can do in response.”

And some interesting discussions on Hacker News about this TED Talk.


“Algorithms decide who gets a loan, who gets a job interview, who gets insurance and much more – but they don’t automatically make things fair. Mathematician and data scientist Cathy O’Neil coined a term for algorithms that are secret, important and harmful: “weapons of math destruction.” Learn more about the hidden agendas behind the formulas.”

Cathy was interviewed on her popular book "Weapons of Math Destruction" in this podcast by EconTalk and discussed on HN too: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12642432