Evgeny Morozov

Evgeny
Morozov
1984

Belarus-born American, Fellow at the New America Foundation, Editor and Blogger for Foreign Policy Magazine, Writer and Researcher who studies Political and Social Implications of Technology

Author Quotes

My fear is that many institutions will eventually alter how they treat people who refuse to self-track. There are all sorts of political and moral implications here, and I'm not sure that we have grappled with any of them.

Social media's greatest assets - anonymity, 'virality,' interconnectedness - are also its main weaknesses.

The idea that the Internet favors the oppressed rather than the oppressor is marred by what I call cyber-utopianism: a naive belief in the emancipatory nature of online communication that rests on a stubborn refusal to admit its downside.

There is this group of people who love innovation. Those people want to innovate, and they think the Internet is a wonderful tool for innovation, which is true. But you also have to remember that much of that innovation is constrained within the realities of the foreign policy.

When someone at the State Department proclaims Facebook to be the most organic tool for promoting democracy the world has ever seen - that's a direct quote - it may help in the short run by getting more people onto Facebook by making it more popular with dissidents.

As leakers take great risks in releasing information, assuring them that they are not sacrificing themselves in vain and that their leaks would have public consequences would most likely encourage more people to leak.

Google?s vision is tools that will do things for you.

If you trace the history of mankind, our evolution has been mediated by technology, and without technology it's not really obvious where we would be. So I think we have always been cyborgs in this sense.

Information technology has been one of the leading drivers of globalization, and it may also become one of its major victims.

My homeland of Belarus is an unlikely place for an Internet revolution. The country, controlled by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, was once described by Condoleezza Rice as 'the last outpost of tyranny in Europe.'

'Solutionism' for me is, above all, an unthinking pursuit of perfection - by means of technology - without coming to grips with the fact that imperfection is an essential feature of liberal democracy.

The Internet can empower groups whose aims are in fact antithetical to democracy.

There is this huge Roma problem in Europe. There are a lot of Romas who are discriminated against in countries like the Czech Republic or Hungary. They are an ethnic minority that in Europe everyone loves to hate.

When we can commit a crime, we can also trigger debate. Cases go to courts. Media start covering the cases. But once you build smart environments where, if you meet a certain probabilistic profile, you won't even be allowed to board a bus, let alone commit a crime, we're perpetuating existing laws so they face no challenges or revision.

As smart technologies become more intrusive, they risk undermining our autonomy by suppressing behaviors that someone somewhere has deemed undesirable.

Half-baked ideas that might seem too big even for the na‹fs at TED Conferences?that Woodstock of the intellectual effete?sit rather comfortably on Silicon Valley?s business plans.

If you use your smart toothbrush, the data can be immediately sent to your dentist and your insurance company, but it also allows someone from the NSA to know what was in your mouth three weeks ago.

iPod liberalism [is] where we assume that every single Iranian or Chinese who happens to have and love his iPod will also love liberal democracy.

My hunch is that people often affiliate with causes online for selfish and narcissistic purposes. Sometimes, it may be as simple as trying to impress their online friends, and once you have fashioned that identity, there is very little reason to actually do anything else.

Someone ought to publish a book about the doomsayers who keep publishing books about the end of publishing.

The Internet has made it much more effective and cheaper to spread propaganda.

This all sounds great in theory...but the reality is much grimmer. In one German region, reports Der Spiegel, the Pirates used LiquidFeedback to gather general opinions on only two issues, while only twenty votes were cast in the controversial law on circumcision.?

When we get the remote Russian village online, what will get people to the Internet is not going to be reports from Human Rights Watch. It's going to be pornography, 'Sex and the City,' or maybe funny videos of cats.

Creative experimentation propels our culture forward. That our stories of innovation tend to glorify the breakthroughs and edit out all the experimental mistakes doesn't mean that mistakes play a trivial role. As any artist or scientist knows, without some protected, even sacred space for mistakes, innovation would cease.

With "smart" technology in the ascendant, it will be hard to resist the allure of a frictionless, problem-free future. When Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, says that "people will spend less time trying to get technology to work…because it will just be seamless," he is not wrong: This is the future we're headed toward. But not all of us will want to go there.

A more humane smart-design paradigm would happily acknowledge that the task of technology is not to liberate us from problem-solving. Rather, we need to enroll smart technology in helping us with problem-solving. What we want is not a life where friction and frustrations have been carefully designed out, but a life where we can overcome the frictions and frustrations that stand in our way.

Truly smart technologies will remind us that we are not mere automatons who assist big data in asking and answering questions. Unless designers of smart technologies take stock of the complexity and richness of the lived human experience—with its gaps, challenges and conflicts—their inventions will be destined for the SmartBin of history.

The most worrisome smart-technology projects start from the assumption that designers know precisely how we should behave, so the only problem is finding the right incentive. A truly smart trash bin, by contrast, would make us reflect on our recycling habits and contribute to conscious deliberation—say, by letting us benchmark our usual recycling behavior against other people in our demographic, instead of trying to shame us with point deductions and peer pressure.

There are many contexts in which smart technologies are unambiguously useful and even lifesaving. Smart belts that monitor the balance of the elderly and smart carpets that detect falls seem to fall in this category. The problem with many smart technologies is that their designers, in the quest to root out the imperfections of the human condition, seldom stop to ask how much frustration, failure and regret is required for happiness and achievement to retain any meaning.

It's great when the things around us run smoothly, but it's even better when they don't do so by default. That, after all, is how we gain the space to make decisions—many of them undoubtedly wrongheaded—and, through trial and error, to mature into responsible adults, tolerant of compromise and complexity.

Author Picture
First Name
Evgeny
Last Name
Morozov
Birth Date
1984
Bio

Belarus-born American, Fellow at the New America Foundation, Editor and Blogger for Foreign Policy Magazine, Writer and Researcher who studies Political and Social Implications of Technology