Perhaps it was the altitude, but Eric Schmidt really outdid himself yesterday at Davos:
I say this with almost complete seriousness. Almost all of the problems we debate can be solved literally with more broadband connectivity in these countries. And the reason is, broadband is how you address the governance issues, the information issues, the education issues, the personal security issues, the human rights issues, the women’s empowerment issues.
Call it the alchemist’s delusion. Langdon Winner has described the affliction well:
To be specific: the arrival of any new technology that has significant power and practical potential always brings with it a wave of visionary enthusiasm that anticipates the rise of a utopian social order. Surely the coming of this machine, this new device, this technical novelty will revitalize democracy. Surely its properties will foster greater equality and widespread prosperity throughout the land. Surely it will distribute political power more broadly and empower citizens to act for themselves. Surely it will cause us to cultivate new and better selves, becoming larger and more magnanimous people than we have been before. And surely it will connect individuals and groups in ways that will produce greater social harmony and a relaxation of human conflict. From the coming of the steam locomotive, to the introduction of the telegraph, telephone, motion pictures, centrally generated electrical power, automobile, radio, television, nuclear power, guided missile, and the computer (to name just a few), this has been the recurring theme: celebrate! The moment of redemption is at hand. …
The very language used to convey the message insists that the wondrous blessing on the horizon is ineluctable. So great is its power and glory that any demand for negotiations about exactly which technology will be introduced, by whom, and in what form is mere impudence. Only a fool would ask to see the fine print, examine the blueprints, or check the credentials of the planners.