Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Lessig recording: Corruption 2.0 - the next problem technology must solve

Recording of talk by Prof Lawrence Lessig at the Institution of Engineering & Technology, London for the Society for Computers & Law (free download under a Creative Commons licence, of course!) - just click the arrow to play it online:
Prof. Lessig on Corruption 2.0 (see the main page with links to the intro speech etc):
"In this lecture, Professor Lessig builds upon the work of Oxford Professor Jonathan Zittrain to identify a critical dynamic in policy making affecting the Internet, and how technologists have become central to that dynamic. The threats to privacy, security, and the proper protection for copyright are not technical, but political. The remedies to those threats will not just be political, but in an important sense, also technological. Professor Lessig describes this dynamic, and describes the emerging movement in the United States to address it."

"The essence of what he concludes is that the Internet is under threat from those with special interests to protect or those, especially in government, who seek increased control... One of the elements that underpins the argument is the considerable evidence that supports the view that government decision makers are either stupid or corrupt. Not blatantly corrupt in a Third World bribe way but ready to do what one US politician was advised to do - ‘lean to the green’, ie towards the source of campaign funds. Subtle corruption arises too from the acknowledged effectiveness of lobbying – Mickey Mouse has better funded lobbyists than open source and it shows. With the odd exception, one tends to concede that politicians are not stupid so how does one explain the worldwide trend towards retrospective extension of copyright terms when there can be no conceivable advantage to the wider public interest – it won’t, as Professor Lessig observed, persuade George Gershwin to write more music nor will it turn Cliff into Elvis. Or how to explain the US’s Federal Nutrition Board embrace of 25% sugar as being consistent with a balanced diet?.." (from Eastham writeup)

See also Laurence Eastham's report of the lecture. I'm still listening through it myself, but it sounds excellent.

You can buy or download Prof. Zittrain's book "The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It" book which sets out the ideas referred to in the quote above and in the talk.

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