Technology of Communication and Human Rights

Marcin Miłkowski (Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences)


According to Steven Pinker, one of the powerful forces in the decline of violence was the widespread adoption of print and electronic media. Thanks to both technological revolutions, the violence has become easier communicable, and therefore more difficult to hide. His argument is that the human rights movements in the 20th century were helped by the television and radio that made it possible to organize people around the idea of human rights. However, at the same time, the role of two factors in spreading violence and denying human rights is difficult to deny. First, mass propaganda, which is required for the spread of genocidal political ideologies, also uses the same technological means. Second, online communities, in particular social media, have an undeniable role in spreading ignorance and ideology, such as fake news, conspiracy theories, flat-Earth beliefs, neonazism, or deadly health advice. In my talk, the focus will be on technological mechanisms that create echo chambers and make the vast spread of rumour possible. The question is what makes social amateur institutions such as Wikipedia so vastly different from echo chambers in social media. To answer this question, I will delve into the technological foundations of the scientific revolution that made the social institution of science so unique in its epistemic credentials.