« Freakonomics Radio

193. Who Runs the Internet? (Rebroadcast)

2014-08-28 | 🔗
The online universe doesn't have nearly as many rules, or rulemakers, as the real world. Discuss.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This podcast dynamically inserts audio advertisements of varying lengths for each download. As a result, the transcription time indexes may be inaccurate.
Thanks to Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch, ass, pennsylvanians or scratching their way to fine and with new every month, big top rises and second chance, drawings, excitements, always in order so try, Pennsylvania, lottery scratch offer your ticket to fund and get yours. Did I keep on scratch? It must be eighteen or older. Please pay responsibly benefits older pennsylvanians every day, if you like to listen to for economic radio without ads the police. Do that is sticker premium. Five dollars a month- and you can get a free month trial by going to stick your premium dot com and use a promo code freak. You also get access to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show to that sticker premium, dot, com promo food freak banks pay packets listeners next week we start our fault line up a brand new podcast episodes. Until then, here's area- run of an episode that, surprisingly to us
was our most downloaded episode from the past eighteen months. It's called, who runs the internet, hope you enjoy. We ve all heard the action. Patients again and again and again again, another story were found. Cyber bullying, this seems to be an all too common. Borders are available everywhere, like him about today, taking the place of get healthy sex education work. Supposing people most at risk, to a new and toxic drug called virtual enter came in and the worst of it are these violent video people are so concerned about violent video games. Think about your kids acting violently on real people through so Romania. The message is clear: technology makes it easy for people to do bad to engage and anti social behaviour,
here's that they might not otherwise do. But what, if we have this question backward? What? If maybe somehow? What does all that virtual may him translates into less actual me? I called up my for economics friend and CO author, Steve Levin he's an economist at the university cargo one of his favorite research topics, crime. So in theory there are at least three channels through which you can imagine virtual vi. Spilling over or not intervene. So that the first hand, this is the more popular view- is that we to teach kids how to shoot guns in violent yo games in their more like they're gonna shoot guns in the real world and certainly is easy to understand how that would work that a second view of the world which I think probably is harder to defend, which is that, if I am frustrated
I can go and shoot my fate guns and my video game that I won't feel the need to go and shoot. My real gun out in the real world cannot Imagine how they would be and then there's a third answer, which is really one that economists think about more than re that people, which is maybe the biggest effective, all of having these violent video games is that their super fun for people to play, especially adolescent boys, maybe even adolescent boys, who are prone to real violence, and so, if you can make me Games fund enough, then kids will stop doing everything else by to stop watching tv, the sap doing homework and stop going out and creating may him on the street, and think the evidence that we have and it is for relatively scared, but the since we do have is actually that that third one are more important than either of the first two in influencing violence
I'm happy from the w and my seeing. This is free economics, radio, the package that explores the inside of everything: here's your host, Stephen Governor, so is it possible that virtual May him is a substitute for real mayhem, shirts, possible Steve Levitt says, data as preliminary murky as they are suggested. This may even be true, but this is the kind of question that is a lot easier to ask and answer with definitively soap, stick a step back both in scope and in time desk a different set of questions.
About the internet itself. You know it was interesting. I started using the internet in the early nineties. That's Clay Shaw, Turkey, a teach, their impact social media and my you in the Interactive Telecommunications Programme and in the journalism divert Turkey is what might best be called an internet scholar and ass. He was saying back in the early nineteen nine. These was running through company in New York City that staged nonfiction documents. We would take things that were originally meant to be put on stage and make theatrical collages out of them like, for instance, somebody journal the way that the first one we did was the transcript of an air traffic control conversation during a plane crash. Gonna. Do I'm glad about that, but we did one. It was only drawn from materials produced in nineteen. Seventy four, we stays the attorney general's report on pornography, a whole variety of these things, and my mother, who is reference librarian, said: oh, if that's what you're doing
should know about. This thing were learning about an elaborate. It's called the internet. It's like a great big library. I said: ok I'll check it out Dan of that. The internet scholar learned about the internet from Rosemont right, my bearing will actually that turned out to be enormously helpful, because I never wanted to believe the kind of mirrors shades cyber cool thing because it came from my mom and because my first YE male ever was now Someone trying to contact me across the either but mom writing wanting to know if my shirts were workmen from the outset shook his interest in the internet went beyond just using it having the rich and varied social life? I did in those years I spent a lot of Saturday, night and home reading engineering documents and slowly together? Some sense not just of what you can do with the internet, but really what the internet does, what the logic of the thing
itself is and in a way haven't gotten interested in that, just as a side effect of wanting to use it. I ended up thinking more about the internet than I did thinking about using the internet for other countries. not just for a minute about how you use the internet today used it to get this radio programme for starters and then think about how everybody else use and abuse. Is it the question I want to place. Turkey to answer is simply this who's in charge whose in charge of the gazillion of conversations and transactions and character, assassinations the happen online every day to first approximation, no one, which is to say- I enlarge. These things are unstructured on sculpted Annette it in an moderated that in small Conversational groups turns out not to be much of a problem, in fact, almost all the negative social aspects of the network. That people point too are a function of group scale.
And there is a huge sociological literature on things like the tragedy of the commons, at the aid that the inability of people to self moderate in places where there is large open resources or what there's a comment on the internet is other people's attention so you're doing with one on one as we are, or in a small group people self moderate, because in a way, there's no more attention to be gotten than you get just by being a participant, but once there is a large group, the way you get attention is by acting out the way you get attention is by attacking people flaming trolling, you know, sort of intentionally leading people and so forth, and so, what's the huge culture clash over the last twenty years at the time that I've been on the internet has been between the libertarian ethos of the people who have built systems and the growing need for social controls are ran very large scale resources. If she does on Wikipedia especially where he almost all
pernicious effects of Wikipedia come from people editing biographies of living persons as they call it right. The articles that are about people still alive and so Wikipedia has developed a bureaucracy around paying special attention to this. those kinds of articles- and you can't have wikipedia- do what it dies and have come. Freedom to added, because people now know where the problems arise, and you start to get this tension between the open. ended culture of the encyclopedia. Anyone can added and essentially that the social norms that form a round this particular group of articles we have to keep under some control two things one very quickly. You are fully with wicked media- yes, I am- I am an adviser to Wikimedia UK suggest just for the record second, then getting to Wikipedia and talking about the friction or the stakes when there are biographies of living. People is what are the characteristics of
I am in on Wikipedia let's say where there's more regulation of engine needed. Is it necessarily case where the stakes are quote higher, in other words biography of a living person, or is it a political arena? a sexual or in other words, what are the characteristics of the environment that most necessitate policing, regulation, et Cetera, there. There are essentially three you could you could break it down into three kinds of articles? There's article you know in advance will be like that because of their structural characteristics, biographies of living person is the most important one by large. Most biographies of living persons don't get fucked with, but that class of article is important. Then there's the stuff that our political, hot button issues, the article on abortion, the article in pollution, the article on Islam, those things come and go, but there is a heightened degree of attention because of the sense that those articles could come under attack at any moment, and then the things where
reason anybody can predict in France they just sort of go pear shaped, and if you look at Wikipedia, as a social network, and you pick any two articles. New look who's edited both of you pick any to users, new look which articles theyve, CO added it once you start to find is that almost the most active users are content experts, so that people who editing the articles about, say. The solar system are astronomers people who know a great deal about that subject, but that the mood. active editors of all. There is a small country of them, show one day on PLUTO, because everyone PLUTO got kicked out of the planet club. All of a sudden. There was a huge argument about PLUTO and the next day they'll be editing. The article about abortion and those people are people who don't so much care about the content of each article. There people who have committed themselves to the Health of Wikipedia as a whole, You need both things if it was just people who generically wanted Wikipedia be good, but didn't know anything in particular about PLUTO. The PLUTO article would be terrible, but if the People-
who knew all about PLUTO didn't I have some defensive cordon. They can rely on when the thing comes under attack. They would eventually give Russia, didn't leave. So you have these rules being assigned. You seek we're going in and sliding themselves into essentially voluntary division of labour. In order that the system going in in ways that are better than if everybody was kind of doing the same job as everybody else. The undersigned roles, voluntary divisions of labour that doesn't sound like any kind of hierarchy were used Does it coming up on economics, radio? This creates some obvious problems one of the things about the online ran ass if they live forever right, so that some are concerned,
thing hurtful and it can stick around and why some people aren't so worried. You here All of the actors are saying: o the technologies outrunning ethics, to which the pragmatists answer That's exactly what we want. Thanks to Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch, ass, pennsylvanians or scratching their way to fine and with new every month big top rises and second chance, drawings, excitements, always in order so try, Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch offer your ticket to fund and get yours. Did I keep on scratch? It must be eighteen or older. Please pay responsibly benefits older pennsylvanians every day, for economic radio is supported by zipper. Creetur businesses have had to be flexible disease.
From working remote. We too pivoting their business models for long term survival. If you are in charge of hiring for your business. These pivots have made your even more challenging. Thankfully, there one place that you can count on to make hiring easier, zip, recruiter, dot, com, flash freak, zip, recruiters technology finds the right people, for your job and invite them to apply its. No wonder that four out of five employers who post on recruiter, get equality candidate within the first, day and right now you can try zip recruiter for free at zip, recruiter, dot, com, slash freak, that's zip, recruiter, dot, com, slash freak yet I am giving Jacobs and I'm Deanna reasonable. We ve got a new podcast called if then worry politically taught to scientists engineers NASA folks, just a bunch of really smart, curious people about cool stuff
Julian, I think most people know you from your work on love and community, and most people would know you as friends, EC scientist Casey Heinz on Anti I ass. So we were both but what most people don't know is that we're both really curious and passion about stem. If we have a more the first outlook in how we look at science and engineering and technology and map, then what this is possible. I get When I get to speak to these people carriages tat back into my curiosity excitement. You know that I have a kid about all these topics so come on this journey with as we learn from some of the poorest smartest people in their fields. If then is out now just search, if slash than to find the show that, if slash then no spaces, listen in stature, Apple, the serious Ex m F or wherever you get your PA casts
w and Y see. This is for economics, radio, with your host Stephen donor. So please, Turkey, the internet scholar, is telling us today about how little oversight goes into the very, very, very, very, very vast universe that we call the internet. So, yes, things can get pretty chaotic online, but given its size when you expect to be much more. So I asked Turkey to give us some numbers on the size of the internet, whether you measure in use There's one dollars or time spent around the interesting question about users is not what constitutes a user, but rather what constitutes the internet because, as the food networks and the internet are becoming more and more entangled the
internet population looks to be something shy of two billion, but the number of activated handset accounts is no, the three billion and you can make it argument, when you look at the kind of hybrid uses of sms and the internet in India, in Kenya, in Egypt and so forth, you can make an argument that the people using ass, a mass on their mobile phones. They don't have best devices that have the best connections. But they are certainly connected to the same group as we are so depending on how you define, let's say the biggest grid that we, the biggest biggest the biggest grid, eighty four dying, but the biggest grid that we want to talk about, which has said that the I'm told of two people who could communicate with one another when their connected to it. That is about three bill. in people right now- the reserve four billion knew who aren't yeah, but Many of those are under five year. So so roughly a third of the population is under fifteen, which means for them first time in human history a magician
Many of the world's adults are connected to the same communication. Cigarette. Ok, so let let's say we'll talk just adults. What what percent of adults general generally best, as you know, are connected to what will call the communications grid round the internet about sixty percent? real here about sixty percent of the world's though whether when it was a time when, as everybody else doing right, what idea you can't be planning neighbours sailing yours and now I mean it's now, a little bit like the adoption rate in the? U S, because the? U S, relied on commercial, commercial, spread of wires and antenna rather than run state spread and because we're a more rural population. Even now we are more rural population and say South Korea right the family, the most wired country, and when you cross the fifty percent mark for population large rural in large RO populations, you start to slow down. So what we ve got is
northern India, much of Inland Sub Saharan Africa Bangladesh away from large cities. in China and it will slow going to connect to those populations, but you know it but but is still happening. Ok, it's a sixty percent of adults around the world, the of any kind of worthwhile dollar figure in terms of overly what value I don't you know we're talking trillions of will easily. I mean he's no matter how human rights rightly here's, here's what I really want to ask. So let's pretend for a minute that we're talking about a machine that sixty percent of the world's adult used up and it generates or takes in revenue in the trillion and eight accounts, and it involves and will make up a number of you have a number of hours per day that that median adult Well again, you know that's insane. I do
because it's so variable between countries like Korea, where the number can be in the median number, can be six euros highs as sites there's a day or two but but then there is also the question of how often a u online, when your Iphone is in your pocket and doing something on your behalf. In the background, are you online, but, let's be very conservative, will say half an hour half in a super concern, If that is all that is very concerned, and now we're talking. Sixty percent of adults worldwide trillions of dollars half an hour a day on a machine or in within an institution. If we want to finance an institution now compare for me, then the regulation and policing and oversight that goes into that machine with a more traditional organisation that has sixty percent of the world's population and trillions of dollars. No, it's I mean a famously famously the right Illinois overhead on the internet, is permissive minimal and in fact the thing
freaked everybody out about it in the nineties when, when the thing was spreading on the wings of the web, one that no one was in charge and in particular that the thing was designed to be completely oblivious to national borders I end it was. It was weird action of broadcasts technology right literally signals going through the air you'd think that this would somehow escape the nation state. Because radio engineering, Circa nineteen twenty was so crappy bra, cast radio and tv stayed inside national boundaries just because the broadcast hours had to be near the receivers, so the internet was the first. Really big group boring, did Trans National Medium and therefore The stories of bosses fretting that, because all of their employees were suddenly sending international emails that they would someone to be hit with a bill by the people who ran the internet and it
some time to realise there is no people that run the internet and therefore there is no bill that, once you ve its infrastructure that everybody pace, one then everybody gets to use and the history of the internet in a way has been the history of building regulations and the fight that the regulatory find around the internet is precisely around regulations designed to preserve a degree openness of interconnection and news versus regulations? Does and to limit exactly that day, so give us a thumbnail history of regulation of the internet. Where did the appetite for regulation come from primarily and how successful have those people are institutions been at trying to regulate it they wished. You know the appetite the appetite as as almost always comes from multiple places, depending on who you're talking about two there was. There was appeared in the nineties where people were very concerned about the moral effects of the internet as they famously were about paper back.
some comics whenever new medium comes along people ring their hands about the effects on youth, and it has we said that the conservatives when they worry about the social effects of a new communications technology are almost always correct right when the Victorian said my guide, this telephone thanks the way men and women court. One another will be completely blown up compared to our current norms, which, indeed, is exactly what happened between peoples control will lead to embrace mixing well there you go so the people, worried about the moral effect of the internet, which is to say it will be impossible to create an environment in which children only learn their parents. View of the world is is in fact, completely correct. And there was an attempt at the time, with a children's online production accounts of work to bring about a set of omnibus bills that would filter the size there were causing the moral panic. Let me ask you this more kind of broadly and may be more naively. Let's say we could step back fifty years and I would say to you clay,
I would like to propose a scenario whereby everybody has a computer, some their desperate in their pocket or its on their eye glasses and in that computer you can use it to output you can broadcasting can take in just about anything. You want to do anything you want to write. You can merely published to everybody else who owns one anything. Want to sell, create, think up, draw steel, invent, etc, and anybody can communicate with anybody else pretty much for free and am I can sell stuff you can buy stuff, including numb physical goods organs. I can sell SEC some things that are listen elicited. If I were to describe to you that scenario and I would ask you claim to draw up the regulation, legal and otherwise that would properly constrain rat at what would you do and how would it be different
from what we actually. So I have the easiest way of abandoning this question, which is the most disappointing for radio, alas, which is that I'm a pragmatist upper case p in the treaty John Dewey and the pragmatists guard a lot of the solution to these problems as things that in I often say to my students who tried advanced to forestall the problems they might have when their developing things right. There's a Aren't class are problems you dont solve until you have them right. You hear all of the f the saying o the technologies outrunning ethics, to which the pragmatists answers that, exactly what we want. If you- and I sit down now and say: well, it's draw up regulations for time, travel and telecom aces really what either it's ridiculous question. So, although I dont think I couldn't point today, current regulatory environment, decidedly per
and say we have got exactly right. I can absolutely promise you than anyone looking at this fifty years. Remove would have made an absolute hash of this because It was impossible to imagine what the second order effects of the technology would be, in fact, one of the things that I studied want to study social media the ways in which people got a lot of them. theorizing about this network right about access to data access to content and they come? full neatly missed or misunderstood the social aggregates exactly, and particularly the group communication by inasmuch as it replaces, the telecom if the telephone, why asked me? Why do you think that, as I have a theory which I am sure is not at all right, but I am curious to know yours it's, I think for two reasons: one people have enormous anxieties about social change that they dont about other kinds of technological change
and I wrote about this a little bit. An inn in my first book in here comes everybody. I grew up when popular mechanics was saying. You know you fly your flying car to work, and you know- Your have you don't you, alas, alas city, bikers about the best. I can do this. What and your the wife of a wife will have all plastic furniture their chicken hose off, but the eye the gender relations would change, no, where nothing in violent mechanics and ever suggested that anything other than me going to work in my wife's staying home was going to be the norm, and so we would have big arguments about which to you is this: the speed, age or is this? The nuclear is nineteen. Seventy space, it raises a nuclear and it turned out it was neither the transistor agent birth control pillage like those were, the really important technologies and they were important not because they were big. You know vote already government projects, but because what individuals chosen do with them in aggregate lead to social change that no one was in control of so the
the idea of trying to guess what are you will do in regulating in advance is to me, I think most the surest way to guarantee. Just by the way the regulation would be structured, The IMF miss out on the opportunities when that, when the Bio Ethics Group was come, and underbrush witnesses is off the subject community, they made the same mistakes, which is essentially they imagine what we could do with stem cells because the genome and so forth, standing from a position than those things were just barely possible and that kind of regulatory hand is, in general, the worst way to figure out what a new technology can do.
So clean shirt. These point is well taken its a fool's game to try to anticipate any given new technology roll out, whether from a regulatory angle or otherwise, as Niels Bore is said to have one said, prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future, who would have predicted, for instance, that all the nastiness that happens on I'm in video games and so on might result in less nastiness in the real world. You're Steve Levin, again just empirical reality when you look at the data. Is that had lesson mail spend an inordinate amount of time playing. Video games and add a note. The actual numbers are, but I think I think now that that those kind of numbers are starting did to surpass tv watching what
on the other factors it, the number of crimes that are committed in the world are disproportionately committed by young men. So it wouldn't be. Such a leap should assume that the prominence of the one would potentially decrease the other. After I think anything you can do to keep adolescent entwined is something men busy is likely to reduce crime, I may whether its working on a job where they are having them in school. whether its having them play video games until three in the morning. If the kids no they're, not outdoing mailer cracked, and so I think the premises incredibly simple and it just seems to be the case empirically that what young men love more than anything else is video game. Say they like that more than school that, like that more than tv, they they like that as much as anything we can find, and it's one of these great examples where of unintended
now. Is there a lot of incredibly strong, careful academic work that supports the conjecture. Just made. probably not, but on the other hand, I think it stands to reason that if you you find an activity that keeps potential criminals busy for six waking hours a day. Then he probably make sense. You gotta be doing this kind and theoretically, the more portable that activity gets. I e a smartphone, honest, way the better off. Everybody wants me to your taking the idea even further governor and the idea that would let this not just distracting when there to home, let's keep them distracted, even when their out on the streets trying to plan- and I like that idea, the only possible counter example, I can think of two. It is that if you make me your games only available hum these guys now leave your home and if you make the veil, though everywhere and you can play video games when you're in the subway, then you're in the same way, all the time and and then take a minute or two off from your video game playing to commit the crime before gone back to its, I could go either way
rescue. Unless thing about this. So there there are schools of thought about the way people should behave on mine and these days, with most people being online, everybody is engaged in this at some point. So, even if it's you know, you read a newspaper online or you read blogs, or you tweet, Nude, retweet, what others say, There is a concern about nasty people right at hominem attacks and people being insulting and rude and vulgar and racist and so on to the point where now some publications or France laying down comments. Sections rather have to deal with it. So I understand the cost that I understand why people get upset about it, but I feel and I'm curious what you feel I feel that the more that people are allowed to rat online, the better off society will be on net, because if that virtual, hunting, can let them get their Jaso and their anger out and their whatever out. Then
It would send a reason to me that there's a smaller likelihood that will actually punch somebody in the face for real at the growth. Restore if they can punch somebody in the face, and maybe it's us that they punch on the face virtue. They, which is why one reason why we let people saint terrible things about us online. I mean it's kind of a great to have that filter and slow. I'm curious what you have to say about that. that's hard because number one, I think people feel a lot of pain, from those kind of online Ratsey implicitly saying that the punch in the face is far worse than the online rat correct. But it's not completely clear to me that that that's actually true that that the amount of pain I mean because one of the thing about the online ran ass if they live forever right, so that some are complacent, hurtful an account and can stick around and haunt you none and on the other thing, is it one of the reasons people die
to so much of this sort of ranting in fighting in public Cosette. It's really socially, I'm not accepted very much and I think, there's a reason. It's not socially accepted because it eating is not very costly for the rapporteur, but potentially very very costly for the person who gets ranted against no, I just reminds me. I know why of when Supervision House came out and we had the stuff on climate change, and the on line ran against us were were untrue. They are absurd. It were had harmony just use it a bad ugly situation where a group of people oh- who were very motion borrower, saying you work essentially in in unison to try to discredit us and we re you didn't have a good vehicle for fighting back, but but when I remember so vividly remember, I think it was in Washington DC where we were giving a talk, and I Claire got here,
begin ranting in exactly the way that the online ran for going against us and the people he told them to sit down. anyone who so weird is that she sat down and he was so bullied and so easily cowed by a few people. Saying don't do that and yeah he's a we ve got to say a little bit of his peace and we got to respond to it, he was somehow it attuned to be much more productive than if he had granted and granted and ran didn't had. Let us talk to that which is really. I think what you get online I don't know I'm not! I'm not that much in favour of giving them. Instead, people can ran, but it's such a hard job for other people to sort out what's true its false that Rance. That can't be verified for truth. I think terrible and we don't have a good online way of saying whether things are true or not, and that's where I think the cost it
The package of measures on next week's shell smack down between the sharing economy were not advocating that there should be rules and the people who think companies urban be an goober are sharing there's a reason for government to regulate business, whether it has a fist. Site somewhere or whether it's in the cloud, because the real impacts on real people are actually now Macleod, it's the internet versus the state. This is one fight you do now.
Want to miss its next time on free, commensurate freakin homage radio is produced by w, and why c and D nor productions our staff includes David Herman Gregg resolves ski gretta cone. Caroline English Susie elect him Burke and Chris Bannon, with engineering help from merit Jacob. If you are more frequent, comics radio, you can subscribe to our pod cast on Itunes or go to freak anomalies dot com. we'll find lots of radio, a blog, the books and more.
Transcript generated on 2021-03-12.