Pax Technica: The Implications of the Internet of Things
(CRASSH Conference, University of Cambridge, 24 November 2017)
Keynote Address by Professor Philip Howard (Oxford)
In 2016 Philip Howard, now Professor of Internet Studies at Oxford and a leading scholar on the impact of the Internet on politics, published Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up in which he tried to assess what the long-term implications of this hyper-connected network might be. Among these possible implications, he noted, are:
- The IoT is likely to bring a special kind of stability to global politics (analogous to the uneasy stand-off of the Cold War)
- The new world order would be characterised by a pact between big tech firms and governments
- Governments may have a decreasing capacity to govern the IoT while corporate (and also bad) actors will become more powerful in the hyper-connected world that the technology will create
- The IoT will generate remarkable opportunities for society but the security and privacy risks that it could create will also pose formidable problems for society
- The IoT looks like an unstoppable juggernaut, so we should learn from our experience with earlier incarnations of the Internet to try and ensure that history does not repeat itself.
Pax Technica is an ambitious and far-reaching book, and like all such volumes, it raises almost as many questions — about international and national politics, governance, security and privacy — as it answers. The Technology and Democracy project at CRASSH seeks to use the book as a jumping-off point for exploring some of these questions.