And here comes the next big dilemma…
Q.3 – Will social relations get better?
A. In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the internet has mostly been a negative force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future.
B. In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the internet has mostly been a positive force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future.
[my answer: B]
Please explain your choice and share your view of the internet’s influence on the future of human relationships in 2020 – what is likely to stay the same and what will be different in human and community relations?
“The Internet creates a huge range of often novel choices, from which end-users construct their own adaptive behaviors. The important determining factors in personal friendships, marriages and other relationships remain with the individual. Which isn’t to say the Internet makes no difference. It does. The Internet facilitates anti-social behaviors like identity theft, and positive behaviors like keeping in close touch with relatives in faraway places, to such a degree that they become almost unimaginable in the pre-Internet age. My sense is that, once you eliminate outliers and freakish behaviors, the Internet will continue to bestow tremendous opportunities for social growth on most people, in most circumstances.”
Dec.31 – Is the Internet an unprecedented force in human affairs, unlike any technology ever known before? I’ve long been inclined to say “yes.” That poses a problem when you look at the Internet as the cause of good relations or bad relations among human beings. As much as I think the Internet will be ubiquitous and, well, all-powerful in 2020, I also think technological determinism is very misguided. The idea e.g. that computers “cause” behavior in any uniform way, overriding individual personality traits, strikes me as silly. And silly whether the outcome is good, bad or indifferent. No matter which derivative of Metcalfe’s Law you subscribe to, the addition of more “utility” or other positive network effects still leaves us with a lot of choices to make about how to use that incremental, network utility.
OTOH, I hear echoes in the non-determinist view of “Guns don’t kill people; people do.” Maybe not, but guns make one helluva difference in a quarrel. The one compelling idea that straddles this dilemma is loss of privacy. The Internet has taken away much of our privacy and it will take away a great deal more. That seems likely to lead to more bad outcomes than good ones.