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Why is there so little talk about the fragility of net neutrality?

I searched TED.com with key words "net neutrality" and "open internet". I got a talk about how the internet helps some oppressive governments, the Edward Snowden talk and that's about it.

Everything else touches on the wonderful possibilities of the internet, which is perfectly fine and inspirational. But the imbalanced weight between optimism and historical perspective makes TED appear to be on a trajectory of naiveté.

Is there a widespread, ignorant notion that, since most of the internet content has so far been treated equal (as much as any biased human can create), that it will always remain equal?

It's becoming less and less deniable that the United States, a nation which ushered in democracy, has been stifled from within by a unique form of oligarchy, which is ironically spurred on by its own people. Examples like this can be found all throughout history about how a great social enlightenment was eventually twisted into a mutated tool to serve a select, elite enclave of power mongers who reside within it.

I hope someone out there, who has the time to form these historical connections into a 15 minute speech, will be invited by TED to provide some historical perspective on this most recent information enlightenment and how fragile it might actually be.

But I digress, perhaps there aren't historical ties that serve as signposts for the internet's future. Perhaps online connectivity and net neutrality are different beasts entirely, complete with never-before-encountered pitfalls?

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  • May 11 2014: All the comments so far seem to have a common thread, which to say, despite the wealth of knowledge the internet provides, perhaps what it fails to provide is critical thinking.

    Could the TED community do something to improve this situation? If so, what are the possibilities?
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    May 11 2014: people are suckers for a good advert and relaying hear-say. currently, everyone seems to be falling all over themselves to bang on about the wonders of the internet and digital technology. personally, i think they have all been suckered in by the combination of tech-sector sales-pitches. the education sector is an excellent example of this.

    the only enlightenment that can come from an entertainment medium such as the internet is the realisation that our perceived world views are tenuous at best. perhaps that will prove to be the undoing of all the corruption hiding within the layers of bureaucracy that mark our times but i doubt it.

    i think that the concept of net neutrality is beyond the ken of most people who are busy posting photos of their dinner and thumbing up the bottom of the barrel entertainment or saccharine bullshit that is currently flooding search engines and social networks - nothing really new about that.

    there is a mentality out there that the internet has made "everyone an expert" which is of course absolute rubbish.

    it certainly allows people to share opinions. unfortunately, people have become so inured to well-presented bollocks, they no longer seem able or willing to question what they are presented with. it's the Propaganda Age.
  • May 10 2014: TED do no like controversial subjects. It is feel good management. Ted contribution is good in spreading new innovation in science and technology.

    The idea that democracy is effective in providing freedom is false. We can yak yak all we want. Out struggle for civil rights, women's right, gay rights taking over 200 years is clear proof.

    For a level of technology and wealth, we experience certain freedoms that other countries can only dream of, The giant tech companies even like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and like them do not have our freedom as a guiding operating philosophy. Obama's use of technology to win election in 2008 was clear sign of what technology can do. The message he gave and many give is very positive but it is all talk. One America disappeared day he got elected.

    Most have no idea what is net neutrality. They are not happy to have information about them being manipulated, sliced, diced and given other interpretation stifling our privacy. For enough money, we will throw the other guy down the toilet. Don Sterling case indicates reality on privacy, misuse of technology and mass hysteria.

    In final analysis our freedom is dead. Net neutrality is elites debate each having it own interest.

    Brave New World and 1984 is our final destiny. Sadly this is happening in our freedom championing country. We can create interpretation to serve us. We can castigate any leader of a country or the whole culture and call it a holy cause. Our Jihads are frightening to rest of the world. We have learn a great new art. We are best propagandist.

    Show me one leader who is capable and committed to causes and results we talk. Again going to Don Sterling case, after 50 years blacks are looking for white approval to feel free. Black leaders are interested in proving how bad some white people are and seeking Don's love for their salvation. Like blacks we all are lost in darkness. Prophets are not born here.
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    May 10 2014: I wonder if the majority of people think already that the net is neutral, and by it's very structure must remain so, and that's why they're not discussing it. I must assume that what you're getting at is that the American gov't will try to control internet content availability, and the 'power mongers' will motivate this control, and you base this development on historical trends. You may be right, but I would go with the theme of your last paragraph in that this is a new situation and will be developing in time. Historical trends developed as a small group of the politically 'powerful' created hierarchies. I believe they were successful because the non-powerful, being the majority, were unable to organize successfully because of ignorance and lack of available organizational strength. They tried to organize but were usually squashed by the 'powerful'. Labor unions today are a perfect example. But now, the internet is creating heterarchy as all people now have (nearly) the same info and can communicate instantly with each other. This (in my opinion) makes for massive and instantaneous feedback and the free peoples of the world are able to unite instantly and convey their desires. This is important because it creates a power base because of the worldwide development of markets. If the non-powerful don't like what you're doing, they now have the communicative ability (power) to let each other know and they won't buy your stuff. Also, people are more and more educated than ever and will continue to be so. Since most people (again in my opinion) in the world want equality and a voice and peace the 'non-powerful' are becoming the true power and will make their will be known. I'm not trying to be 'inspirational' and I have no historical data to back me. But I'm watching what's happening and I have true hope.
  • May 9 2014: I agree this topic is a bit of a downer, which is often a discussion repellent unless there's a demonstrable candidate for a solution. I mentioned democracy not as a defender of freedom but rather an enlightenment for individual rights. I see the internet as history's next vessel for human enlightenment. But just as democracy proved to be destructible in ways its philosophical authors did not intend, why not discuss the pitfalls of the currently perceived infallible era?
    • May 10 2014: Matt
      Excellent point. Perhaps, one of the biggest pitfalls would be 'disinformation', disseminated by a government to undermine a growing protest. This tactic was used, is used quite successfully. Such a tactic, providing the net/twitter was not shut down, would certainly provide hesitancy and even paralyze opposition. The ability to ease drop (NSA) on all transmissions and source the sender would have a chilling effect. Even the infallible Enigma of the Third Reich was broached, but not to be compromised was the Windtalkers of the Navajo.
      The promise of todays technology is, I think, similar to the promise of the written word, which led to all the good, all the bad that we now have to sort out all over again. Nothing changes, but perception and that too, is redundant.
      "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." A T. Jefferson quote in response to your, "did not intend---" I would put forth the idea that the Bill of Rights is freedom, sadly there are no real supports save the commitment to a free society..
  • May 9 2014: Matt

    Thank you for broaching this topic. It is enormously important. I doubt very seriously however, that you will see anything about this or opposing this on TED. I would be equally surprised if you received much response. TED, although there have been a few substantive talks most are fluff and puff, sentiment is primarily one of a collectivist mind set, which is what you allude to in your opening, I believe..
    You mention democracy as if it were the ultimate defender of a free society. Freedom is not mob rule. Mobs are easily controlled, guided and directed. Welfare, food stamps, unemployment benefits, federal grants, corporate welfare and federal kickbacks readily control the majority.
    Hopefully I am wrong, but as you now see it is doubtful that we are.