C. S. Lewis once noted that it was better to be ruled by robber barons who were interested in their own benefit, than “omnipotent moral busybodies” who wish to impose their insane not-so-clever schemes on other people whether the people like it or not.w-a-d
Now-a-days, we are in the unfortunate position of those robber barons and omnipotent moral busybodies being one and the same. And now they have even more power than the 19th century titans of industry:
“Without doing the math, I would imagine Jeff Bezos’ personal worth ($83 billion) and the value of his massive company Amazon ($490 billion) – are at least as relatively huge as a Carnegie or a Mellon and their respective companies ever were.
“Ditto Google (now Alphabet) ($652 billion) and their founders Larry Page ($49 billion) and Sergey Brin ($43 billion). And Facebook ($501 billion) and Mark Zuckerberg ($64 billion). And…
“All of this government – also allows today’s Robber Barons to execute the Big Con. Rather than abusing us directly, they use governments as their primary weapons. They can put on a ‘Don’t Be Evil’ smiley-face – while having the bureaucracies do their dirty work for them.
“Today’s Robber Barons bribe feckless government officials – who are wielding power far beyond the Constitution’s constraints and their meager abilities. Who then abuse their power, the system and all of us – by engaging in massive amounts of Robber-Baron-favoring government cronyism.”
“Google’s latest project is an application called Perspective, which, as Wired reports, brings the tech company “a step closer to its goal of helping to foster troll-free discussion online, and filtering out the abusive comments that silence vulnerable voices.” In other words, Google is teaching computers how to censor.
“If Google’s plans are not quite Orwellian enough for you, the practical results are rather more frightening. Released in February, Perspective’s partners include the New York Times, the Guardian, Wikipedia and the Economist. Google, whose motto is ‘Do the Right Thing,’ is aiming its bowdlerism at public comment sections on newspaper websites, but the potential is far broader.
“The problem lies with the very concept of the idea. Why does Silicon Valley believe it should decide what is valid speech and what is not?
“Google is not the only technology company enamored with censorship. In June, Facebook announced its own plans to use artificial intelligence to identify and remove ‘terrorist content.’ These measures can be easily circumvented by actual terrorists, and how long will it be before that same artificial intelligence is used to remove content that Facebook staff find to be politically objectionable?”
The difference between the modern day “robber barons” and those of the 19th century, was that the attitude of the later was the free interaction of the free people with the “robber barons'” companies, while the former treat free people as a commodity and thing to be shaped, including by censorship.
The digital oligarchs are less “robber barons” than actual feudal barons. With benefits derived from legiance to the sovereign, to be used for preapproved ends.