Saturday, June 20, 2009

Free speech, and technology's role

Science and technology can play a big role in facilitating people's free speech and in turn assisting in world peace.

It is common for oppressive regimes to respond to political crises by suspending the ability to use text messaging and other communication features on all of the nation's cellular phones. This limits the ability of the protesters to expose the brutality of the regime - it would be great if one day everyone had a cellular phone whereby it would be impossible for a political leader to prevent the customer from using the device as it was intended. I think all that is really needed is an affordable cell phone that can be used anywhere in the world. If the technology requires base stations (devices on the ground that typical cell phones talk to) and infrastructure that would have to be in the local country then the service will always be subject to the whims of those in power. A long time ago Motorola had a phone that provided this service (worldwide portable phone) but it was big (it needed to be able to talk with a Satellite in orbit) and expensive - clearly ahead of its time. Once the costs of these devices come down it will be an amazing thing for people who live in oppressive countries.