“The public access to the web is twenty years old. Through it, digital society has developed throughout the entire world. But has this society become mündig, that is, mature, in the sense that Immanuel Kant used this term to define the age of Enlightenment as an exit from minority, from Unmündigkeit ? Certainly not: contemporary society seems on the contrary to have become profoundly regressive. Mental disorders as well as environmental, economic, political and military problems constantly proliferate and increase, while the spread of traceability seems to be used primarily to increase the heteronomy of individuals through behaviour-profiling rather than their autonomy.
If digitalisation clearly holds promise in many ways, and if (and I am convinced of this) socialising digitalisation in a reasoned and resolute way is the first condition for the world to escape from the impasse in which the obsolete consumerist industrial model finds itself, then, this socialisation requires the creation and negotiation of a new legal framework which itself presupposes the formation of new ‘Enlightenments’.
I am thus delighted that Neelie Kroes has called for a new Enlightenment philosophy for the digital age, just as Tim Berners-Lee and Harry Halpin have argued, in dialogue with the position of Vint Cerf, who developed the TCP-IP protocol, that internet access must become a universal right. But here, what exactly does access mean? Or again: what type of access should we claim will bring light or enlightenment, rather than darkness or shadow? Under what conditions will such access be beneficial for individuals and the societies in which they live?”
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