How can a Silicon Valley entrepreneur become the harshest critic of the digital hand that feeds him? Andrew Keen is nicknamed ‘the Antichrist of Silicon Valley’ and in his book ‘The Internet is Not the Answer’, he presents a scathing indictment of the high tech revolution, which, far from democratising societies, has, instead, contributed to create more barriers between a ‘connected’ élite and the millions left on the roadside of the information superhighway.
What is wrong with our digital dreamworld, then? Well, for Keen, all this allegedly liberating technology has turned into a cyber nightmare from which we may never wake up. Far from bringing knowledge, prosperity and social justice, the digital revolution has created a tentacular monster in the hands of a few groups of people, not only capable of storing sensitive data on every single person on the planet but also enjoying the most colossal fortunes ever made in history. Keen particularly laments the demise of traditional industries which once secured jobs to millions of manual workers throughout the industrialised world.
Do young generations accept this technological and economic evolution as an irreversible process despite its trail of ecological and human collateral damage? Do Philosophy students see these issues from a more impartial point of view than the average citizen? Can, indeed, Philosophy help to acquire a better understanding and possibly a new vision of tomorrow’s world? The privilege of the philosopher remains his ability to exercise his critical faculty away from the distracting rumpus of the madding crowd. At the end of the day, could your IB students actually live happily among their books with no resort to their laptops and the lure of the Net?