Some quick thoughts on SOPA/PIPA

education debate Jan 18, 2012

As both a technology guy and a (former) social studies teacher, watching the SOPA/PIPA debate and struggle is fascinates me. These are bad bills. And they deserve to die – for obvious reasons.

Yet it’s the way in which Wikipedia, Google and the like are fighting this bill that intrigues me.  I once read this science fiction story that explored the idea of “votes” as entities. When a position become popular enough (or an anti-position becomes popular enough), it becomes its own artificial intelligence that interacts with other artificial intelligences (votes/positions). Those Vote AIs become more or less powerful in their negotiation abilities based on how many people support them.

That’s what this Anti-SOPA/PIPA debate reminds me of. I feel a little bit like we’re seeing this different form of power (readit users, Anonymous, WikiLeaks, etc) used. It feels a bit more like a direct democracy in action. The social scientist in me is completely fascinated by it all.

Then again, maybe not. My guess is SOPA/PIPA has been the wake-up call for big technology firms to pour their own money into lobbying. That’s how power traditionally works in this country (and other democracies).

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