Technological Sovereignty


#1

Last Friday I attended a book presentation about Technological Sovereignty. The presentations and the ideas therein gave me a lot of energy and new ideas to spend some brain cycles over.

As the book, the theme and the ideas are probably interesting for a sizeable portion of the people on this forum, I want to share some quotes and a link to the book.
The book has been translated to four languages (by volunteers) and can be downloaded and read for free.

Some quotes from the preface:

As with all other sovereignty, technological sovereignty is made in communities.

For those of us fighting for technological sovereignty, communities are a tangible reality. They are there, we see them and we feel them. Although technology is stereotypically related to consumerism, elitism, luxury goods and isolated individualism, this is only the vision presented by the industry and the market. A market that seeks to isolate and bewilder consumers.

The premise of a community that aspires to be sovereign is that all knowledge should be shared, and all individual developments should be returned to the commons. Knowledge grows through cooperation. Intelligence is collective, and to privatise knowledge is to kill the community. The community is the guarantor of liberty, which means it is the guarantor of sovereignty.

Briefly expressed, community, in its most radical form, is autonomous, self-organised and self-regulated, and it is the guarantor of sovereignty. If you have a community you will have freedom and sovereignty. Or even further: it is only within communities that we can be free and sovereign peoples.

Technology, from fire or flint to the monumental constructions that we use everywhere, almost without noticing, is the body of culture. Without technology, there would be no culture. The relationship with technology is paradoxical. It allows you to do more things (autonomy), but you depend on it (dependence).

You depend on those who develop and distribute it, on their business plans or their contributions to social value. And you change with it. Are Whatsapp and Telegram not changing the way we relate to each other? Is Wikipedia not changing culture of the encyclopedia? And you change it too, in turn.

Which is why it is so important to keep open the collective question about what technological horizons we desire and how we are building them.

To resist technological submission, I propose that in your technological choices, you value the following:

Comfort should not be the only criteria. It is more comfortable not to separate your garbage. It is more comfortable to take the car and drive around the corner (assuming there will be parking, of course). It is more comfortable to eat fast food… However, we don’t always do that, because comfort is not always the best criteria. And with technologies it is the same.

Be aware that gratitude is not the only cost. It is good that there are free public services, which is a way of saying that they are paid for by everyone, in a common fund. It is also good to exchange gifts, for free, that we pay for as a way of showing gratitude and love. However, when we talk about technology industries, free is just a strategy to get greater profits by other means. Such freeness comes at a high cost, both in terms of loss of sovereignty (as we remain at the mercy of whatever industry wants to “give” us in any given moment), but also in environmental and social terms. Saving a photo in the cloud, to give a simple example, has environmental and social costs, since in order to save it there must be a server on at all times, the “motors” of which consume electrical energy, etc. That server perhaps belongs to a company that does not pay taxes in the place where the person saved the photo lives, and is therefore extracting value without contributing to the commons, etc. Everything costs something. We should therefore perhaps think of this kind of “gratuity” as indirect costs that will hit somewhere else.

These are just some paragraphs I found really strong.
Go here to read the entire preface:
https://sobtec.gitbooks.io/sobtec2/content/en/content/01preface.html

The book is part two of a series, by the way. You can read part one here: https://sobtec.gitbooks.io/sobtec1/ (but it is only available in Spanish, Italian and French…)


#2

Thanks, this sounds really interesting. Aral and I have added it to our reading lists!