Let's start a debate: The rise of modern dictatorships and the fall of liberal democracy


#1

Many of you know that I’m writing a book. I’ve been reaching out some of you through DMs, to test some ideas for the book.

One of the first things you do when you start a project (a book or whatever) is to answer the question of: What is it about?

I thought the book was about Privacy Inequality, a juicy term I started to use a while ago. But as I started to dive deep and see the whole picture of today’s landscape I noticed that what’s going on is that, we’re living a global transition towards modern dictatorships, where liberal democracy will have to reinvent itself–it’s not suitable for today’s standards.

Now, I’m talking with a lot of people about this, and I might be wrong. And that’s the price you pay–I could wait until I release the book to see people’s reactions. But I believe it’s more healthy to discuss these topics in the open and get early feedback.

I’ve put together an article with my thoughts. I could attempt to sum it up here but I think I’d miss some critical points.

Here’s the article.

The only thing you won’t find in that article is a related idea (I’m working on it now) about why privacy is the key to preserve our freedom. (Heads-up: I’m biased with my strong pro-privacy worldview)

I hope you find this conversation useful, and that you contribute with your thoughts here.


#2

Nice article, I followed you until the paragraph titled Who controls data? Who governs us?. Then I had the impression you rushed things and conclusions a little bit. Here are most of the implications you draw in the last two paragraphs:

  • having the power translates today in controlling and centralizing people’s personal data.

  • the core of what corporations and governments do is influencing public interests.

  • there isn’t such a big difference between governments and corporations.

  • governments are not that powerful.

  • it’s hard to influence big tech corporations guidelines because a corporation knows us better than we know ourselves and it’s able to manipulate us at an emotional level.

  • these global systems operate in just one location in the world — California, Beijing. So it means that a few people from one part of the world are forcing the rest of it to adopt a unique identity.

  • they are telling us what’s right and what’s wrong based on their beliefs.

  • The 21st century require governments to rule AI.

  • Who will rule AI will rule the world.

I think you should put some extra padding (reasoning / evidence / references) between each couple of these sentences, in order to justify the latter from the former, like in any logic demonstration.


#3

Thanks Michele, I’ll work on that.

What are your thoughts on the topic? I believe it’s going to be more fruitful if we can start a conversation around this.


#4

I think big tech corporations aren’t telling us what’s right and what’s wrong, they simply don’t care about content. They only care about our attention and keeping us using their platforms, leveraging any sort of AI and algorithm that would help them to do so.
I don’t think the real problem is that someone else is trying to make us believe or support some specific thing or value we don’t really have, but that we are turning into not-thinking beings, not able to use our brains to think anymore. We will have to do more and more effort to shape and keep our own thoughts in the future and to focus on something in general. So basically now and in the next years any entity could rule the world, no one would notice because too dumb (like in the movie Idiocracy).


#5

Thank you @borja. You make many excellent points and I enjoyed your article. To me it all made decent sense, except for the part about modern dictatorships and the fall of democracy. I don’t really see that explained in the article at all, nor do I think the fall of democracy and replacement with democracy is likely in the places where democracy currently exists. That is because I don’t think democracies would allow a dictator to come into power in the first place. However I’m more worried about one party states which are already dictatorships such as Russia and China using the power of tech to become even stronger and more repressive.

And to make a correction in your article, it was totalitarian Russian Communism that defeated fascism (not to mention conquered many, many democratic Central European nations) in WW2 Europe, with the help of democratic nations. We are all propagandised by our Western states, in schools, the media and museums so that we don’t see the Russian/Ukrainian effort to defeat fascism and instead take credit for what was mostly their effort. Their great sacrifice was a fight for survival against the Holocaust which was already well on its way to achieving its #2 racist goal of eliminating most Slavic people, and also an expansion of Moscow’s Empire through invasion-conquest.

I believe most of Big Bad Tech today is working on creating surveillance states. Countries want our devices to be insecure, and our online services to be insecure, so that they can listen in to stop criminals and help fight wars though better spying. This is already going on, but it’s all very secret.


#6

Thank you both for your comments.

@micheleminno, I believe that they’re telling what’s right and wrong, even if that’s not their main intention. I always talk about the illusion of free will in my articles, and the thing is, they’re content curators. And what happens with that is that algorithms can’t tell what’s right or what’s wrong–the only thing algorithms know is “this content gets clicks.” I wrote an article about information warfare, and how the problem of curation with social media platform, is much bigger than a media problem.

The tricky thing about shaping societies through social media is that, people are not aware of filter bubbles and deny that they might be manipulated in one way or another. No one’s immune to this (I’m not either), because these influences work at an emotional level–it’s not so easy to spot.

Thank you @Free! I covered some of your questions in my other articles (I recommend you to check them out). To your point on democracies, I thought the same until I started to dive deep into it. There’s a book called How Democracies Die, where the authors make a great job at explaining how democracies die in today’s landscape. They start as democracies, but then they use a crisis or any other event that allows them to establish their regime. Hugo Chávez’s regime started this way. And the authors of the book warn us that Trump’s actions suggest this kind of take over.

And to your other point of the defeat of fascism I can’t tell yet, I’m not that savvy in the subject. You might be right :slight_smile: Thanks for pointing it out.


#7

Hi Borja, thank you for the article, I am also finishing a short book “Collapse of Winners Take All Democracy Charade” and “Hacking Human Behaviour” Hopefully I will publish in a couple of week and we can share sources and analysis.
I would recommend for the time being the most recent book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of
by Professor Shoshana Zuboff.


Google and Facebook have become “antithetical to democracy,” says The Age of Surveillance Capitalism author Shoshana Zuboff
#8

I’d love to read your short book. Where will we be able to find it?

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is a great book–a little bit long but it’s worth it.


#9

I wrote a follow-up article if anyone is interested. It’s titled: Why Democracies Die: The Reason Privacy Is the Source of Power in the 21st Century

Here’s the link.