New open-access eBook: “I accept the terms and conditions”

15 December 2019 0
Click to download the book

Click to download the book


Hot off the press the new open-access eBook: I accept the terms and conditions: Uses and abuses of digital technologies, published by IDRC and Ceibal Foundation. Available in English and Spanish (Spanish version published by Santiallana Foundation). The book has the collaboration of several experts and scholars around the world, several are (or were) part of the OII community.

Twenty years into the Internet boom, this platform is no longer thought of as a tool for inclusion. Today, it generates and amplifies new forms of power and control (e.g. surveillance, influence and manipulation, extortion, loss of self-control and cognitive overload).

Ignoring these issues leads to new digital gaps. We are experiencing a kind of digital feudalism in which a few companies manage data that the population provides for free without financial compensation. The concentration of digital power in a handful of companies (e.g. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft) has not only resulted in new forms of power and control that exacerbate the existing ones but is also creating new forms of exclusion and marginalisation.

For decades, researchers argued that the skillful use of technology would eventually generate advantages for those who could adapt to these new tools, but the reality that we see today is different. Cities are teeming with «smartphone zombies» (individuals so obsessed with the media and networks in the digital world that they lose track of what is real) who, instead of using technology, are being used by technology.

This book questions the purported neutrality of technology. They explore the extent to which the algorithms that give life to digital tools become the new oracle, the interface of connection with reality—a reality modified to satisfy the interests of a few. In this scenario, states are late to the discussion and the population at the individual level lacks the tools to regulate and manage their digital lives. It is crucial to understand the limitations of the current era and to take account of the fact that artificial stupidity (resulting from systems offering poor or bad information in an automated fashion) can be more dangerous than the lack of timely information. Today, it is necessary to develop an improved understanding of the meaning of critical digital literacy so that digital citizens can help make sense of, and act on, the new rules of the game.

It is the end of the digital honeymoon. Various international experts are exploring important questions:

  • What can we do to address the current power asymmetries?
  • Who watches those who watch us?
  • Why does it seem that we work for the benefit of technology companies by relinquishing a large number of our individual rights?
  • Is it possible to make these tools transparent and audit them?
  • In a society heavily influenced by data, isn’t it necessary to have a new form of data ownership that will benefit and protect citizens?

To respond to the challenges the current technological landscape poses, it is necessary to respond in a cross-cutting, inclusive and open manner to this question: How can we prepare society to act in a landscape of changing technologies?

Here you can find some media appearances or comments about the book: