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Information Power: The Information Society from an Antihumanist Perspective

Jack M. Balkin

Yale University - Law School

November 11, 2006

This short essay, written for a book about globalization and information policy, argues that globalized information networks create new forms of power that transcend people's deliberate design. Digital information technologies enmesh individuals, groups, and nations in proliferating networks of power that they neither fully understand nor fully control, and that are controlled by no one in particular. These promote the proliferation of information production, information technologies, and information control mechanisms whether or not this serves human values.

The essay offers three ways of looking at this phenomenon: through the theory of memetics, through the metaphor of a single global entity or organism, and through a Foucauldian proliferation of power model. Each perspective suggests that larger forces of technological development and information production are reshaping and possibly even sacrificing human values and human interests to serve goals that no human being in particular seeks. The goal of this essay is not to deny the role that human agency plays in creating the world we inhabit. Nor does it reject the importance of human values and interests as goals of information policy. Quite the contrary: It identifies features of our current condition that we might otherwise overlook. If we care about promoting human freedom and human flourishing in a globalized information society, we need to think about all the various forces that might affect them.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 15

Keywords: Information Power, Privacy, Internet, Memes, Memetics Foucault, Gaia, Globalization

JEL Classification: K10

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Date posted: July 26, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Balkin, Jack M., Information Power: The Information Society from an Antihumanist Perspective (November 11, 2006). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1648624 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1648624

Contact Information

Jack M. Balkin (Contact Author)
Yale University - Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
203-432-1620 (Phone)

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