Last week, Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet (sorry, “Internet”) and chief evangelist of arguably the most powerful and mysterious company in the world (Alphabet/Google), published a piece in Wired entitled: “In 2018, we will tackle the internet’s dark side.”
Given that Cerf is essentially Willy Wonka if he were in the information business, including the fact that Mountain View may well be home to an army of Oompa Loompa coders and hackers, I immediately took notice — ready to devour the latest thinking of the man guiding us to, or from, the Singularity. After all, he was about to own up to the irrational exuberance surrounding the development of technology without having considered how it might be used, and how an economy based on achieving optimization of attention would end up distorting public discourse and the economy in ways that were, how can I say this politely…less than optimal in advancing the stated core goals that Cerf and the other fathers of the Internet had espoused. The very title promised a less evangelical approach to internet governance — one that recognized that there was a “dark side” of the internet. And stated so boldly. 2018 as the year when the dark forces undermining the potential of the internet were defeated.