I was reading this fascinating article and this part reminded me of Gatchaman Crowds:
“Citizenville,” which seems to be unread, if not unknown, where its heroes live and work, has won praise from no less than Newt Gingrich. This shouldn’t be surprising, since its terms point toward an arrangement in which many of the tasks of government are outsourced to citizens empowered with smartphones. When Newsom acknowledged that San Francisco was becoming unaffordable to many residents—“Can’t have a vibrant democracy without a vibrant middle class”—I asked how “Citizenville” addressed this problem.
“I don’t know that it does,” Newsom said. “I’d like to have an answer to that. I didn’t take that on squarely. I was looking at competence in government.”
Technology can be an answer to incompetence and inefficiency. But it has little to say about larger issues of justice and fairness, unless you think that political problems are bugs that can be fixed by engineering rather than fundamental conflicts of interest and value. Evgeny Morozov, in his new book “To Save Everything, Click Here,” calls this belief “solutionism.” Morozov, who is twenty-nine and grew up in a mining town in Belarus, is the fiercest critic of technological optimism in America, tirelessly dismantling the language of its followers. “They want to be ‘open,’ they want to be ‘disruptive,’ they want to ‘innovate,’ ” Morozov told me. “The open agenda is, in many ways, the opposite of equality and justice. They think anything that helps you to bypass institutions is, by default, empowering or liberating. You might not be able to pay for health care or your insurance, but if you have an app on your phone that alerts you to the fact that you need to exercise more, or you aren’t eating healthily enough, they think they are solving the problem.”
Pretty much. Technology can’t solve all our problems. And it takes a colossal amount of arrogance to imagine that all it takes is a new idea for a cellphone app.
Same thing with the premise of Gatchaman Crowds. Everything the Crowds can do— the people could do the exact same things with their physical bodies. Why should we imagine people would behave any differently when using some technology?