In a global sense, the digital divide is over. We're no longer separated by space and time. From an economic standpoint, of course, this is indisputably beneficial. Since knowledge is power, the rise of universal connectivity and information markets is vastly expanding human capacity for creating wealth. Yet from a values standpoint, it is deeply troubling. Because at the heart of these technologies lies a perilous challenge to human freedom itself: Can you still be the author of your own life?
Virtually unnoticed, the sovereign rights of man are being eroded by the conjunction of cloud-computing technologies and crowd-sourcing philosophies. The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are central to our identity and well-being, but they're being dragged under the bus of innovation. Here's how:
The right to life is based on the idea that life is the standard of moral value. Its aim is to protect the individual's ability to take every action necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of his or her life. Implicit in this right – always – is the right to property. What happens, then, in this era where access trumps ownership?
Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, where shared information is provided to users on demand, like electricity. These usercentric, "pay as you go, use only what you need" systems are affecting nearly every facet of life. In the clouds, we are forever "clients" utilizing distant servers to borrow and invest in intangible capital.