“Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”
— ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams
Why is the world moving towards a more authoritarian kind of rule all of a sudden, and why is this happening now. Me, I blame the Babel Fish.
The cost of almost all forms of communication, written, voice, video, worldwide to an unbelievably large audience is now essentially zero. The language barrier is still there but automatic translation is getting better and better and it won’t be forever or we really can communicate with everybody, instantaneously. That kind of power – because it is a power, I don’t doubt that one bit – comes with great responsibility.
If what you say or write is heard only by people already in your environment, who know you and who can apply some contextual filters then the damage that you can do is somewhat limited.
But if you start handing out megaphones that can reach untold millions of people in a heartbeat, and combine that with the unfiltered, raw output and responses of another couple of million of people then something qualitatively changes
Removing barriers is generally good, and should be welcomed. But we also should be aware that those barriers may have had positive sides and that as a species we are not very well positioned to deal with such immense changes in a very short time.
Great power comes with great responsibility, the power to communicate with anybody instantaneously at zero cost is such a power.