Also at today’s Singularity Summit, Jamais Cascio spoke about Openness and the Metaverse Singularity. The metaverse (and other scenarios) portion seemed to be merely a lead into a call for a democratic singularity. Cascio rightly said that we probably don’t know what that means, but he has a prescription that I’m all for:
My preferred pathway would be to “open source” the singularity, to bring in the eyes and minds of millions of collaborators to examine and co-create the relevant software and models, seeking out flaws and making the code more broadly reflective of a variety of interests.
The funny thing is the extent to which “democracy” and open source, open access, and transparency are conflated. Voting was not mentioned in the talk. Which is fine by me — I suspect that such forms of openness do much to promote freedom and other liberal values, which are themselves often conflated with democracy. (The most interesting parts of Yochai Benkler‘s The Wealth of Networks concern how peer production facilitates liberal values. I’ll blog a review in the fullness of time.)
However, in Q&A Cascio expressed some preference for representative democracy — or rather that’s the sense I got — the question prompting the expression had a lot of baggage, which I won’t try to describe here.
My unwarranted extrapolation: the ideal of free software has some potential to substitute for the dominant ideal (representative democracy), but cannot compete directly, yet.
Update 20070912: Baggage-laden question mentioned above explained.