Pax Technica


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How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up

Philip N. Howard

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A foremost digital expert looks at the most powerful political tool ever created—the internet of things. Will it be like the internet of surveillance and censorship we have now, or will it be something better?

Should we fear or welcome the internet’s evolution? The “internet of things” is the rapidly growing network of everyday objects—eyeglasses, cars, thermostats—made smart with sensors and internet addresses. Soon we will live in a pervasive yet invisible network of everyday objects that communicate with one another. In this original and provocative book, Philip N. Howard envisions a new world order emerging from this great transformation in the technologies around us.
Howard calls this new era a Pax Technica. He looks to a future of global stability built upon device networks with immense potential for empowering citizens, making government transparent, and broadening information access. Howard cautions, however, that privacy threats are enormous, as is the potential for social control and political manipulation. Drawing on evidence from around the world, he illustrates how the internet of things can be used to repress and control people. Yet he also demonstrates that if we actively engage with the governments and businesses building the internet of things, we have a chance to build a new kind of internet—and a more open society.

Philip N. Howard is a professor and author of seven books, including Democracy’s Fourth Wave? and The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy.  He is a frequent commentator on the impact of technology on political life, contributing to, and other media outlets.

“Forget networking your toaster to your refrigerator—in Pax Technica, Howard brilliantly outlines the coming consequences of the Internet of Things, including altered norms of international governance. This is the most important work yet written on the subject, and the first to extend the logic of networked infrastructure to the global political stage.”—Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody

“Connected devices raise a variety of social, economic, and political concerns. In this timely book, Howard analyzes how sensors, geolocation devices, and wearable technologies will broaden and threaten people’s lives. It is a superb analysis of what he calls ‘pax technica’.”—Darrell West, Brookings Institution

“In this timely book, Howard analyzes how sensors, geolocation devices, and wearable technologies will broaden and threaten people’s lives. A superb analysis.”—Darrell West, Brookings Institution

Pax Technica is a groundbreaking assessment of the next great stage of the digital revolution, the one that makes all previous stages look like child's play. The ‘internet of things’ is upon us, and Howard provides an eye-opening account of its immense promise and perils.”—Robert W. McChesney, author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy

“We can’t say we haven’t been warned—or encouraged. Phil Howard makes a big argument about the fundamental shift in power that will occur once the Internet of Things takes hold and connected devices become central to our lives. He also provides a wise blueprint for making these changes work for the common good. Take heed.”—Lee Rainie, Director of Internet, Science, and Technology research at the Pew Research Center

"Pax Technica is an essential guidebook for the often unsettling implications of Big Data and the Internet of Things.  Howard crafts a persuasive plea for active civic engagement to help chart us towards a more equitable digital future."—Ron Deibert, author of Black Code: Surveillance, Privacy, and the Dark Side of the Internet

“To understand the true significance of the Internet of Things, I only need to turn to Philip Howard’s new masterpiece: Bold, comprehensive, full of intriguing insights and eminently readable!”—Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, co-author of Big Data

“Ambitious and provocative, Pax Technica addresses the implications of digital media, big data, and related phenomena for democracy and public life. Pundits, policymakers, and those curious about the changing landscape of media, politics, and global affairs should take note.”—Seth Lewis, University of Minnesota

Pax Technica is a brilliant work of responsible optimism about how big data, AI and the Internet of Things may improve the world. Philip Howard acknowledges the potential downsides of our data-drenched society, but makes a compelling case for why we may live better, and govern ourselves sensibly, in the era of Pax Technica. The book makes a substantial contribution to the debate over how we coexist with technology—and is as a thoughtful antidote to the digital doomsayers.”—Kenneth Cukier, co-author of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

“In Pax Technica, Phillip Howard envisions a world in which the ubiquity of Internet connectivity and the proliferation of Internet-aware devices fundamentally change the ways governments and other power structures interact with people. Whether this new order comes to full fruition, Howard's roadmap of the potential opportunities and consequences is extremely useful as we move into unchartered technical and political waters.”—Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of Law and Professor of Computer Science, Harvard University

“Thought provoking, opinionated, and upbeat, Howard's book is an interesting addition to the debate about the effects that new technology should and could have on our society.”—Anya Schiffrin, author of Global Muckraking

“Building on his previous research about digital technology and democratization, Philip Howard takes a sweeping and ambitious look at how government, political structures and international relations will be transformed by technological change. Optimistic that a Pax Technica will bring  global stability, Howard calls for more transparency, standards for data sharing and reminds us of the need for an internet that is truly global. Thought provoking, opinionated, and upbeat, Howard's book is an interesting addition to the debate about the effects that new technology should and could have on our society.”—Anya Schiffrin, author of Global Muckraking

“Understanding geopolitics in the Internet age is no longer possible without an understanding of how power is wielded across global networks of digital devices. Phil Howard maps out the opportunities and challenges of this brave new world.”—Rebecca MacKinnon, author of Consent of the Networked

Pax Technica is a bold and prophetic book. Even if you disagree with Philip Howard's conclusions, you will want to engage with his arguments. He sees our world in a genuinely new way.”—Anne-Marie Slaughter, Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University, Director of Policy Planning, U.S. State Department, 2009-2011

“Weaving rich stories into an analytic framework, Howard's crisply written book outlines a technologically-optimistic vision of the emerging public-private global order he dubs Pax Technica. Whether one accepts or rejects his arguments, the book is an important contribution to our struggle to understand the world that is coming upon us.”—Yochai Benkler, author of The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom

“A riveting and highly readable portrait of how the explosive growth of the ‘internet of things’ will pervasively reshape political and social life—and why democratic publics must be prepared. Essential for anyone who wants to understand the world that is emerging in the coming hyper version of the digital age.”—Larry Diamond, author of The Spirit of Democracy
ISBN: 9780300199475
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
352 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
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