Date: Mon, 24 Jul 1995 09:41:16 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Libertarianism v. Communitarianism
As you can tell, much of my writing is focused on the liberating power of technology. That should give you some indication of my "philosophical bent."
While the Media Lab does receive some of its funds from government sources, most of our money comes from the private sector. I believe in letting private enterprise work. (Of course, I'm not above prodding it along when I see fit, but I don't think that the government should have some official role in doing this.)
Several years ago when then-Senator Al Gore was beginning to talk about the coming information superhighway, he suggested that government should help build this highway by funding the placement of fiber optic wires. At that time, I opposed this proactive governmental role, for several reasons, not the least of which was that market forces would provide all the incentive communications companies needed for laying fiber.
Fiber is cheaper than copper wires and it carries much more information. Phone companies are already replacing their copper with fiber. Government just is not needed.
Likewise, I opposed the decision in the AT&T case that ended up breaking up the phone company. That decision, which also included a prohibition on the Baby Bells from being in the information or entertainment industries. This prohibition delayed such developments as video dialtone and interactive television.
Finally, I currently oppose the FCC from creating some kind of "Bit Police" that would regulate and set standards for how bits are used. For instance, I think the Bit Police should abstain from governing cross-ownership of media. In the coming digital age, there is going to be little inherent difference between a newspaper bit and a television bit. And likely, the end-user will be the one to determine that difference.
As you can see, I am pretty well entrenched in the Libertarian camp.
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