A world 'too big to know.'
What's a Meganet? It's a mix of huge numbers of people plus enormous amounts of computational processing power. Think of the Googles, Facebooks, crypto currencies and government systems. Whenever there is an attempt to regulate them, they never seem to really reform. Not because their founders don't want it but because no one is really in control.
Here are five #Bookstrapping insights from this insightful, conscientious book by David B Aurebach.
1. A Meganet is persistent because its value comes from never being off-line and never being reset. There is no way to restart or pause a meganet without destroying it.
2. Meganets leave us confused about cause and effect. It becomes difficult to gauge whether a chosen course of action is actually improving things or not.
3. Meganets have made self-determination a myth! Our indicators and habits will be used to sort us from our birth, and we will be constantly subjected to the decisions of algorithms, that cannot be explained or reversed.
4. Meganets often depart from their core function. For eg; when the Singapore government launched an app called TraceTogether, which used Bluetooth to keep a record of which citizens had been in close proximity with each other; it turns out that Singapore police solved a murder investigation using the same app. This is the moral conundrum we face.
5. An important MegaNet discussed is China's social credit system (SCS) which isolates and punishes bad actors by not allowing them to buy property or secure loans or engage in travel. It seeks to create incentives for those citizens who follow a 'sincerity culture.' The author posits that the uses of SCS could be a lot worse.
From Bitcoin to Facebook, India's Aadhaar to the game of WarCraft, all are meganets. They exercise soft social control over the world, and this is no longer debatable.
What we must acknowledge is that Meganets evolve faster then we can track them. Their workings are opaque even to their own administrators. Even though they remove human agency and de-individualise people, it is important to evaluate how we can exert human force to tame 'that' which is greater than the human. It's an uphill battle but not one we can avoid.
Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta is a columnist and bestselling biographer. She is credited with the internationally acclaimed Red Dot Experiment, a decadal six-nation study on how ‘culture impacts communication.’ On Instagram @officialReetaGupta