by Richard Fernandez
Governance by algorithm is what
Parag Khanna meant
when he wrote,
"We are building the global society without a
Global order is no longer something that can be
dictated or controlled from the top down.
Globalization itself is the order."
Glenn Reynolds has
deactivated his Twitter account,
citing the banning
of Jesse Kelly for no apparent reason as the immediate
cause of his disillusionment with the platform.
Explaining his decision,
Why should I provide
free content to people I don't like, who hate me?
I'm currently working
on a book on social media, and I keep coming back to the point
that Twitter is far and away the most socially destructive of
the various platforms.
So I decided to
suspend them, as they are suspending others. At least I'm giving
my reasons, which is more than they've done usually.
He may have beaten the
digital bouncers to the door by only a little.
The Thought Police
are rushing to ensure that everyone toes the line.
The Straits Times
"Facebook will allow
French regulators to 'embed' inside the company to examine how
it combats online hate speech, the first time the wary tech
giant has opened its doors in such a way, President Emmanuel
The trial project
is an example of what Macron has called "smart regulation",
something he wants to extend to other tech leaders such as
Google, Apple and Amazon.
The move follows a meeting with
Facebook's founder, Mark
Zuckerberg, in May, when Macron invited the chief executive
officers of some of the biggest tech firms to Paris, telling
them they should work for the 'common good.'
The officials may be seconded from the telecoms regulator
and the interior and justice ministries, a government source
Facebook said the
selection was up to the French presidency.
It is unclear whether the group will have access to highly
sensitive material such as Facebook's algorithms or codes to
remove hate speech.
It could travel
to Facebook's European headquarters in Dublin and global
base in Menlo Park, California, if necessary, the company
This is the same
Emmanuel Macron who is worried that protests by the French
miserables against his crushing environmental fuel taxes could
hurt the government's image:
The French president
told ministers at a cabinet meeting on Monday that the
government must respond after images were relayed around the
world of police firing teargas and water cannon at protesters
who set up barricades, lit fires and smashed restaurants and
shopfronts on the Champs-Élysées.
It's not just Macron who
is leaning on Google.
The government of China
is also exerting pressure on the tech companies to help them to
build a social media surveillance state.
Here's Ben Gomes,
Google's search engine chief who,
"joked about the
unpredictability of President
Donald Trump and groaned about
the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, which has
slowed down Google's negotiations with Communist Party officials
in Beijing, whose approval Google requires to launch the
censored search engine":
China I think is
one of the most interesting markets, arguably the most
interesting market in the world today.
Just by virtue of
being there and paying attention to the Chinese market, we
will learn things, because in many ways China was leading
the world in some kinds of innovation.
We need to
understand what is happening there in order to inspire us.
It's not just a
one-way street. China will teach us things that we don't
And the people,
as you work on this, both in the Chinese offices and
elsewhere, paying attention to the things that are happening
there is incredibly valuable for us as Google, potentially
not just in China, but somewhere else entirely.
One of the things China
will pioneer, as the New York Times
reports, is to use "A.I., shame and
lots of cameras" to control its population:
With millions of
cameras and billions of lines of code, China is building a
high-tech authoritarian future.
Beijing is embracing
technologies like facial recognition and artificial intelligence
to identify and track 1.4 billion people. It wants to assemble a
vast and unprecedented national surveillance system, with
crucial help from its thriving technology industry...
China is reversing the commonly held vision of technology as a
great democratizer, bringing people more freedom and connecting
them to the world.
In China, it has
"The goal is
The control system China
is implementing creates
two classes of citizens:
the Woke and the
The former will be
rewarded and the latter banned from any responsible role in life:
China's plan to judge
each of its 1.3 billion people based on their social behavior is
moving a step closer to reality, with Beijing set to adopt a
lifelong points program by 2021 that assigns personalized
ratings for each resident...
The Beijing project
will improve blacklist systems so that those deemed
untrustworthy will be "unable to move even a single step."
As Tyler Grant
notes in The Hill, the basic
algorithms behind the Chinese social scoring system and Western hate
speech systems are essentially the same.
"It's tempting to
think this government overreach is purely reserved to China,
after all they did just forfeit significant freedom by electing
Xi Jinping president for life.
This is incorrect
The rest of the world
is steps away from trailing the Chinese into a surveillance
The U.K. fines
and even imprisons people for hate speech or speech deemed
abhorrent to the prevailing norms of society.
The U.S. is not
far behind. Last week, a Manhattan judge ruled a bar can
toss Trump supporters for their political viewpoints.
proliferation of politically motivated boycotts seeks to
punish "bad" viewpoints; protesters are eager to shout down
In this political
climate, it's not difficult to imagine businesses or the
government assessing social benefit or worth based upon a
variety of factors including political speech.
With incredible data collection, the plumbing is already in
place for such a system to take hold. Our tech companies
catalogue large quantities of data on everyone.
As we saw with
Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 election, this data can
be used to steer particular viewpoints; it's not a far cry
to imagine information being used to control viewpoints.
There's nothing to lose
by quitting if they're coming for you anyway.
At least you get a head