Where did this evil stuff come from? Are we evil? I’m perfectly willing to stipulate you are not evil. Neither is your boss evil. Nor is Larry Page or Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. And yet the results of our work, our best most altruistic work, often turns evil when it’s deployed in the larger world. We go to work every day, genuinely expecting to make the world a better place with our powerful technology. But somehow, evil is sneaking in despite our good intentions.
One of the things that I think is really important is that we’re paying attention to how we might be able to recuperate and recover from these kinds of practices. So rather than thinking of this as just a temporary kind of glitch, in fact I’m going to show you several of these glitches and maybe we might see a pattern.
A lot of the topics that we’re trying to “tackle” or trying to deal with on the Internet, we’re not actually defining ahead of time. And so what we’ve ended up with is a system whereby both companies, and governments alike, are working sometimes separately, sometimes together, to rid the Internet of these topics, of these discussions, without actually delving into what they are.
Dangerous speech, as opposed hate speech, is defined basically as speech that seeks to incite violence against people. And that’s the kind of speech that I’m really concerned about right now. That’s what we’re seeing on the rise in the United States, in Europe, and elsewhere.
Once we understand that legal talismans are protective invocations, we have to be critical of them. Even the ones we like. The shorthand is not comprehensible to users. And the shorthand is not comprehensible to people more generally.
What does it mean for human rights protection that we have large corporate interests—the Googles, the Facebooks of our time—that control and govern a large part of the online infrastructure?