The Utopia Project : Amid growing anxiety over new technologies, an effort to recapture the idealism of the 1990s is under way

Raleigh Addington
Raleigh Addington
editor at Chartwell Speakers

Toomas Hendrik IlvesAndrew Keen, a British entrepreneur and writer who has long worked on the US West Coast, was among the first tech commentators to declare the internet broken. “Digital technology has, indeed, taken a treacherous turn,” he writes in his new book How to Fix the Future. But he urges us all to take up arms in a new fight to resist the “creeping (and creepy) technological determinism” and reclaim control of our destiny.

Keen has sought inspiration from Estonia, which has developed one of the world’s most sophisticated national ID schemes. He interviews the country’s former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, a jovial, bow-tied computer scientist now resident at Stanford University, who is credited with inspiring the Estonian digital model. He finds him a lot less fixated on privacy, though, and a lot more concerned with data integrity. Ilves argues that the main function of a modern government in a digital society is to guarantee identity. If information is indeed the new currency of the networked age then it too requires a “sovereign guarantee”. “Somebody knowing my blood type isn’t a big deal,” Ilves tells the author. “But if they could change the data on my blood type — that could kill me.”

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