Splinternet & the Specter of a Digital Iron Curtain

“Truth exists; only lies are invented.” Georges Braque

To read the entire essay please go here: https://khmezek.substack.com/p/splinternet-and-the-specter-of-a-5b0

You can listen to me reading this essay here.

It looks like we could have a modern-day Tower of Babel on our hands. The war in Ukraine and the resultant Russian digital isolation could initiate a Splinternet.

Splinternet (also referred to as cyber-balkanization or internet balkanization) is a characterization of the Internet as splintering and dividing due to various factors, such as technology, commerce, politics, nationalism, religion, and divergent national interests.

How does this relate to the Tower of Babel?

Like many enduring stories, the Tower of Babel is referenced across numerous cultures. We can find it in all three of the world’s major religions, namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And further back in the stories of the ancient Sumerians and Assyrianand the Greco Romans. A.S. Kline translates Ovid’s Metamorphoses 1.151-155 as:

“Rendering the heights of heaven no safer than the earth, they say the giants attempted to take the Celestial kingdom, piling mountains up to the distant stars. Then the all-powerful father of the gods hurled his bolt of lightning, fractured Olympus and threw Mount Pelion down from Ossa below.”

The Tower of Babel by Alexander Mikhalchyk

In Gen. 11:9, the name of Babel is associated with the Hebrew verb balal, ‘to confuse or confound.'” According to the story, when God saw the people working together to build a tower to reach heaven, naturally, he wasn’t happy about it. He solved the problem by causing them to suddenly speak different languages. No longer able to communicate, confusion abounded. The tower was abandoned, and the people spread across the earth. It would take a long time for them to unite again.

The printing press was one of the most important inventions uniting people and giving them access to information the elite had previously controlled. For the first time, the common folk were able to interpret religious texts the way they wanted.

The internet went much farther, making all information freely accessible. This was unacceptable to the elite and they had to find a way to control it. No government wants information freely accessible to the masses. All the battles that are now being fought can be traced in some way to the elite wrestling for control of information, or we could also say, data.

The movie Babel

In the movie, Babel, a tragic chain of events is set off around the globe, starting with the son of a goat farmer in the Moroccan desert who shoots at a tour bus without thinking he will actually hit it, severely wounding an American woman inside. The media hypes up the story, and before you know it, what started as a terrible accident becomes an international terrorist plot.

The war in Ukraine is surely the greatest manipulation of information for the purpose of control that we have ever experienced.

Thanks to the internet, information is now relayed around the world in a matter of seconds. AI translates languages for us and soon we will have microchips enabling AI to translate our thoughts and the thoughts of others at the very moment we are having those thoughts.

The brain weighs only three pounds, yet it is the most complex object in the solar system,”
says Michio Kaku in The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind

"This means that, in some sense, free will is a fake. Decisions are made ahead of time by the brain, without the input of consciousness, and then later the brain tries to cover this up (as it’s wont to do) by claiming that the decision was conscious. Dr. Michael Sweeney concludes, “Libet’s findings suggested that the brain knows what a person will decide before the person does. … The world must reassess not only the idea of movements divided between voluntary and involuntary, but also the very idea of free will.” All this seems to indicate that free will, the cornerstone of society, is a fiction, an illusion created by our left brain. So are we masters of our fate, or just pawns in a swindle perpetuated by the brain?”

This is an uncomfortable, albeit fascinating question. Are we being manipulated all the time? Are these new masters trying to hijack our brains from the old masters? I like to think that I have free will. That I have a brain that, if I use it properly, will be able to decipher what is going on and tell me what is true and what is a lie.

Increasingly, this is difficult to do.

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