By Antonio Ariño
Vice Chancellor of Culture and Equality, University of Valencia
Cultural risks in digital societies
“Someone said with great foundation of truth that printing certainly spreads scholarship, but that it would have reduced content. To read too much is bad for thought. The greatest thinkers I have found, among the erudites I have met, those who had read the least. Or is recreation of the senses for nothing?” (Lichtenberg, Aphorisms)
This text will be structured in three parts. In the first part, which works as an introduction, what follows is framed in the theory of the risk society. After that, a central part is presented in which I explain the way I conceive the digital society with its properties of generativity and incommensurability, on one side, but mostly as a structure subject to a capitalist dynamic: cognitive capitalism and pollination of knowledge. With regard to that, all of us and billions of people around the world – with our clicks, likes and tweets – are pollinators like bees, whose pollen is exploited by large companies. The third part will specifically focus on cultural risks and challenges of the digital society.
The era of manufactures uncertainties
The underlying ideal to modernity is established with two mandates, one explicit and one hidden behind an admonition: the first is reflected in the Kantian imperative “dare to think”, which promotes independence and originality of the individual in the pursuit of knowledge and learning; the second underlies the warning “the deceitful gaze”, a clue to suspicion and mistrust of a flattened reality which conceals the existing and deters the possible. This warning has an artistic and narrative affiliation, embodied in paintings such as “The sleep of reason produces monsters” (Goya, 1799), or in literature. In The Fable of the Bees (1705), Bernard de Mandeville presumed that society works through a “clever trap” and in Discurs sur les ciencies et les arts (1750), Rousseau presents the “garlands of flowers on iron chains” that corrupt souls.
The social theory of the risk society has its founding moment in the early 80s of last century with two, already classic, works – that of Mary Douglas and Aaron Wildavsky in 1983, Risk and Culture, and that of Ulrich Beck in 1986, Risikogesellschaft – both feeding and projecting the audacity of knowledge and suspicion about the flash and glitter of contemporary society to try to understand its inherent toxicity. “In advanced modernity”, declares Beck, “the production of wealth is always accompanied by the social production of risk”, which is implicit and the result of the deployment of modernity: “they [risks] become stowaways of normal consumption. They travel on the wind and in the water. They can be in anything and everything, and along with the absolute necessities of life (air, food, clothing, home furnishings) they pass through all the strictly controlled protective areas of modernity” (Beck, 1986, p. 25 & 13). They have been fathered, not by the crisis, but because of the success and triumph of modernity. The production and distribution of wealth (labour, consumer goods and social welfare) generate the social production and reproduction of risks and pollution, wastes and garbages, economic crisis and terrorism as unintended consequences. The risk society brings a historical break from the previous forms of danger – attributable to nature or the wrath of the gods; the risks, it is said, are produced industrially, externalized economically, individualized judicially, legitimized scientifically and minimised politically. Moreover, they are global, endemic and without recognisable or attributable responsible agents; the responsibility is transferred to individuals so that everyone has to assume the “guilt” of everything that happens, be it unemployment, exclusion, cancer or emotional instability (individualisation process).
In In Beck’s theory, the analysis of the role of science and the media occupies an important place but, as we know, it gives no attention to information technology and communication, cultural industries and the creative sector, to culture as such. In that sense, his understanding of risk and also of globalisation is partial, incomplete and biased. Are we to infer from this that his theory is not useful for reflection on cultural management, cultural policy and culture? Faced with the economic conflicts of the industrial society (resource allocation), Beck declares, those of the risk society are cultural. They depend on the perception and their understanding depends on the symbolic thresholds of tolerance which exists in every society. It generates a culture of uncertainty. This culture of “manufactured uncertainty” is ironic and ambivalent. On the one hand, it is a disenchanted awareness where we do not know what we do not know and, therefore, invites the warning, precaution and prevention; and on the other, it combines the perception of threats as well as the need to continually reinvent institutions and new ways of doing politics. Therefore, we are faced with a theory whose objective is to find the existential, cultural significance of the risks.
To begin this text with Beck and his theory of the culture of uncertainty has a virtue and encloses a challenge:
First. We must understand that arts and the humanities are not a world apart; that these radical and global risks and cultural patterns which they generate as ways of life and thoughts intrinsically concern those dedicated (we who are dedicated) to cultural management.
Second. The current risk society has not overcome class society and is also a digital society (Abbot, Jones & Quilgars, 2006). I dare to say that the most important event in contemporary society lies in the hegemony of a new system of information, communication and organisation – sustained on the internet, on mobile phones and satellite networks, which allows the meanings to be decoupled from their anchors and material supports and, therefore, their full connectivity, mobility and instant ubiquity. By moving the centre of gravity from atoms to bits, of spaces to flows and products to services, a radical transformation occurs not only of places to access symbolic goods but also of the production and circulation of culture and the production of life (Sassen, 2007). Under these conditions, it is considered that IT as a whole is a powerful tool to represent and calculate the exposure to risks, as well as to control, mitigate or reduce and transfer them on a large scale or at a personal level; in terms of global finance or home insurance; in world markets or in individual life projects. Networking technologies (grid) allow for the calculation of probabilities based on objective indicators, thus contributing to the quantification of life (Ciborra, 2004: 4).
Third. But, the digital society is also a society of risk in the sense that it generates new risks and uncertainties. “Paradoxically”, states Ciborra, “the extension of the quantifiable knowledge domain and its representation exposes us to the danger of further growth of ignorance generated by new and mysterious interdependencies and side effects created by the same infrastructure deployed by the colonisation of knowledge (…) The more we are able to expand the frontiers of knowledge (formalised) thanks to technology, the more dangerous events emerging out of the regions of our ignorance can be” (Ciborra, 2004, p. 4 & 14). The recent documentary by Werner Herzog about the internet, Lo and Behold. Reveries of the Connected World, submitted to the Sundance Film Festival last August, is an example of how this step opens up an aesthetic reflexivity not less mature than acidic.
The digital society and cognitive capitalism
According to this approach, we should now characterise the digital society and explain its incardination in cognitive capitalism. In the digital society, information and data become ubiquitous and cheap; the value shifts to new scarce goods: knowledge and attention. Moulier-Boutang addressed the first aspect with the metaphor of cognitive pollination. Bees, besides producing honey, are pollinators. To what extent are humans pollinators? They always have been. The question is: what is the pollen in the knowledge and learning society? It has been said, not without reason, that artificial intelligence will not achieve its aim until it manages to reproduce human stupidity, because today the pollen of knowledge is constituted by dimensions that cannot be automatized. “The brain is able to respond to inaccurate logic, a logic of uncertainty” which, for now, cannot build the machines, and that is founded on the ability of contextualisation (Moulier-Boutang, 2007 p. 140). But in cognitive capitalism this pollinator function is making us free, flexible and temporary workers in “pirate” companies like Google, Amazon, etc., who steal the knowledge generated by their multitude of users.
Facing the idyllic, horizontal and cooperative prevailing view in certain sectors, such as the open movement (Ariño, 2009), many authors show a more complex picture which responds better to the everyday experience of the internet, where spam, worms, viruses and trolls have an intolerable presence: rickrolling, malware and harassment, pornography, cookies, cyber-surveillance and control, sock puppets and socialbots, the commercialisation and traceability of personal journeys, the monopoly of large companies, the restrictions by applications, the deliberate spreading of rumours and falsehoods and the impersonation of personalities, etc. The philosophy or the ethos hacker originally granted the internet and digital society a benevolent aura of freeness, solidarity, democracy and humanism, like a de-materialised and de-socialised phenomenon. However, this has little correspondence with reality and it becomes clearer every day with the Googleisation the world. The company’s expansion and the diversity of areas in which it operates not only creates indispensable windows or doors to access but it also affects cultural substance or content: how Google think conforms, to some extent, how we think (Levy, 2011).
The risks of the digital society
The digital society is a society of risk. It is so on multiple fronts and constitutively because it is driven by the expansive and innovative dynamics of financial capitalism and generates manufactured uncertainties. When talking about them, with a pragmatic vision and without claiming completeness, we can distinguish two levels of approach: the most visible and even institutionalised problems, such as battles over the network, and some other more radical questions.
Most visible problems
In this section, we analyse risks and, in order to do, we focus on phenomena and problems which are usually interpreted in a positive key without ambivalence: learning and innovation, the rights of the author, democratisation, etc.
- The ambivalence of learning and innovation. In the digital society we are always “freshmen”, “noobs”, because digitisation makes only new knowledge become valuable. Stiglitz and Greenwald (2014) have addressed the extraordinary importance of learning economies and also the factors which inhibit their development. The dynamics of open learning and innovation are the most beneficial factors in today’s economies. Now, what it can be seen as beneficial from the point of view of society, is more ambivalent from the perspective of the individual. From the Sartrean or Norbert Elias perspective, we can state that “we are doomed” to learn and innovate. Our condition of newbies is radical and forever, and we devote enormous efforts to be in a position of continuous learning being aware of the immediate obsolescence of what we learn and, sometimes, its uselessness (“sterile flowers” as Simmel would say). Functional or continuous instrumental training is not a blessing, but an inevitable requirement for the contemporary social being.
- The masters of Big Data. In the knowledge, learning, and innovation society, the battle for intellectual property and copyright becomes the main struggle. New technologies and bits run against restrictions and secrets; but large companies – including not only the cultural but also the pharmaceutical, chemical, food processing, genetics, etc. industries – greatly struggle to wrest the institutions to defend their interests through regulatory pressures or non-generative technical innovations (applications). Many people still tend to see this battle as a peripheral, secondary issue and of little relevance, but it is not. If information and knowledge are the core values of the cognitive economy, they must function as private property under capitalism and therefore Google, Amazon, Facebook and many other corporations become the “masters of Big Data”, given their ability to capture and appropriate those resources to monetise them. Against this, a broad but increasingly influential movement defends the character of common good of knowledge and remembers the enclosure (private ownership) processes of other material goods of the bourgeois society’s origins. According to Stiglitz’s approach, knowledge is not only a public good but a global public good and the market is not efficient in its production and distribution. Attempts to “capture” knowledge returns by restricting its dissemination introduce distortions in its efficient use (2015, p. 119). Therefore, the struggle for public knowledge goods concerns us directly and significantly.
- The knowledge democratisation fallacy. An increasing number of people have access to a wider body of knowledge. Potentially, technology allows everyone in the world to access the network, and it seems as if hunger will disappear. However, the existence of this new objective culture based on digital technology does not produce more equality but rather less, because social determinations and individual characteristics generate very different advantages of the objective offer. Simmel saw it well that, with the advancement of technology, a minority could rise to unprecedented spirituality, while a majority would sink into practical materialism. Today, we can see that the most mature, comprehensive, educational systems generate more differences than ever in the expectancy of each person’s educational life. The globalisation of the knowledge economy produces the same effects as economic globalisation: greater inequality – as Lynch says, an epistemic inequality. Consequently, the battle for net neutrality is a struggle for cultural equality. An open and free internet is a prerequisite for equality.
- The economics of superstars. According to Chrystia Freeland (2012), one of the factors which has catapulted the global superelites and provided them with the earnings they receive has to do with what Sherwin Rosen, in 1981, based on Alfred Marshall, called the “economics of superstars”. Who do we mean? Beyoncé, Madonna or Lady Gaga? Messi or Ronaldo? Frank Gehry, Calatrava or Damien Hirst? In the era of the global plutocracy, there are many types and levels of superstars and celebrities. But they all work with the same logic: the winner takes all; small differences in execution result in large remuneration differences. The rewards to the superelite are based on the prevailing logic in the rituals of competition (sport, literary, science or otherwise) in which the winner is rewarded with everything, creating a huge difference between the first and the rest. Technological change and globalisation tend to create a space of economic tournaments in many sectors and companies where the most successful in a particular field produces untold rewards, but finishing second place and certainly fifth or tenth has infinitely less economic value. The gap between the winner and the rest is even bigger than ever because the symbolic forms are spread on a global scale. On the other hand, fame operates as a feedback and self-production mechanism: it expands itself. However, the chosen ones of the fortune have not made it themselves: their position and earnings are based on the concealment of all social interdependencies and the system/structure which generates the resources they possess and their legitimacy.
- The hegemony of money outside its sphere. Michael Sandel argues that although it is true that “greed” played an important role in the last financial crisis, there is something more transcendental at stake: “the expansion of markets and of market values into spheres of life where they don’t belong” (Sandel, 2012). This is what has happened with the sharing economy. Even the economist Paul Romer says that, by using sharing in this context, “a good verb has died” (2015) because each click on search engines like Google, on Facebook or on Amazon contributes to their profits and the vertiginous irruption in the last six years of rental companies for cars (Uber, BlaBlaCar), for houses (Airbnb), etc. incorporates areas, activities, goods and services that previously belonged to another social dynamic into the capitalist economy. These spheres which worked with the gift or simple reciprocity economy and are now reduced to new markets. This generalised commodification involves not only new inequalities but also a corrosion of certain social goods because it presupposes that everything can be bought and sold in a market, including privacy. By pricing the items, goods, relationships and services, they are treated as commodities and their nature is silenced. In Sharing Economy, Sundararajan argues that we are witnessing a mix between market and donation which removes existing borders and that we walk into a crow-based capitalism; we are witnessing a change from buying to sharing, with the confluence of two ideas: first, access without ownership and networks replacing hierarchies (2016, p. 49) and, secondly, the blurring of the distinction between personal and professional, salaried work and casual employment, independent and dependent (ibid., p. 77). This is undoubtedly a do-gooder and complacent position which ignores the dominant dynamics that has the ability not only to extract value but to determine what is valuable.
At the height of 2016, the words “network” and “social networks” can no longer be declared of primal innocence. In them boil and resonate Wikileaks, Snowden, Panama papers, and personal experiences of spam, trolling, rumours, lies and cyberbullying, the suspicion of being watched and spied on for commercial purposes and who knows what many other things. Our lives, says Lynch, have become fishbowls, “but fishbowls into which we have entered voluntarily” (2016, p. 151); our privacy is systematically and unknowingly invaded, without being possible to anticipate how the data collected from our digital practices and during our use of devices which are already part of the Internet of Things will be used. Dating companies like OkCupid – the so-called social sites, adult dating websites – gather so much information about users, their profiles, preferences and practices that, through correlation analysis, they make predictions that the best demoscopic surveys could not do. That has corrosive consequences for dignity, personal autonomy and democracy.
In any case, we are talking about the exploitation of information for commercial or political control purposes. As Stiegler (2015) states, capitalism today exploits mnemonic means to capture the attention and desires of people in order to promote consumption and create consumer subjects. Digital technology allows automatic control of both and make them converge algorithmically according to the controller’s interest. According to this logic, the number of clicks, the amount of viral traffic, is what is important, not the truth of the data provided. “If a person is not sharing a news story, it is, at its core, not news”, says Neetzan Zimmerman (cited in Viner, 2016), a specialist in viral networking. But, is it not the nature of the internet and digital society to generate (possibly unwanted) unforeseen effects, regardless of their integration into the capitalist system or autocratic surveillance and control instances in countries which are either democratic or not? The evolution of the last five years, which led to a few companies monopolising all kinds of digital activities, should set alarm bells ringing.
In his recent book entitled Automatic society, Stiegler (2015) argues that the temporality of computing and reason is very different: while the network runs at 200 km per second, our own body does at 50 m/s. Moreover, algorithmic technology is based on probability, while human reason also operates synthetically and can imagine the improbable. The programmed formalisation of digital language is an epistemological revolution which reduces all varieties of knowledge to a single type and transforms human beings “in its image and likeness”. We enter the era of algorithmic, opaque and anonymous governance, both politically and cognitive. From the field of journalism some have been asking for some time whether, with the explosion of data and its selection by algorithms and consultation associations, we have entered a post-truth era, where data is more important than facts and the truth. The Brexit campaign and that by Donald Trump are still a great opportunity to check it out. Information permeates society through its associative relevance (likes and retweets) rather than its objectivity.
With the same radicality, in The Internet of Us, Lynch wonders how information technology affects what we know and how we know it: are we composing a knowledge network or is it composing us? (Lynch, 2016, p. 183). Lynch notes a finding: today, most knowledge is acquired online – “The internet is the fountain of knowledge and Google is the mouth from which it flows” (ibid., p. 47). The network has made bodies of knowledge more widely available (access) and, thus, its production more inclusive; what is known is more transparent, but has not improved our understanding and, therefore, our argumentative ability (ibid., p. 217-220). What kind of knowledge is understanding? That which is necessary to be able to provide a good explanation of something (ibid., p. 265). It is not fragmentary but multifaceted; it does not only deal with the facts but with the why and how they are so; it attracts the structure of everything. Furthermore, it is particularly interested in the what of knowing and presupposes the development of skills which are acquired through experience. Understanding is a creative, personal and social act, which supposes the discovery of something new and valuable. Human rationality is too complex to be reduced to the logic of the internet (Gorz, 2003). Moreover, society, continues Lynch, needs thoughtful and reasonable people with the ability to defend their views with reasons which are in line with the shared epistemic principles or standards. But the infosphere produces fragmentation of universes and makes it more difficult to create a common, public sphere (Lynch, 2016, p. 110). The personalised web, states Katharine Viner, “and in particular Google’s personalised search function, which means that no two people’s Google searches are the same – means that we are less likely to be exposed to information that challenges us or broadens our worldview, and less likely to encounter facts that disprove false information that others have shared”.
Institutions which encourage the use of critical thinking and the civil exchange of reasons do the work of democracy. The growing networked nature of knowledge makes the independent thinker all the more important and necessary than ever before. The digital society produces manufactured uncertainties and we kid ourselves if we think we can learn every skill necessary to live a decent life simply by downloading it, without interacting with the outside world and likewise interact, also corporately, with it (Lynch, 2016 277).
Management and cultural intermediation in the era of risk
To conclude our discussion, we must ask what is the role of cultural management in the era of big data. In a sense, one might think that, as a form of intermediation, cultural management has died or will die, because it is being emptied of content, meaning and function. Access has been democratised; in many industries and social areas, managers, producers and other mediation agents have disappeared or are in the process of doing so; in our libraries, we only find students during exam periods; in many areas of practice and especially in tourism, consumers are prescribers through rankings and ratings systems based on algorithmic rationality and it is always Google, Amazon or Facebook which operate as the super-gatekeepers and holders of the purse strings.
At the same time, the universe of available information and knowledge is immeasurable while attention and personal time are finite; the bits accumulate miscellaneously and magmatically, but the subjects need skills to select what is pertinent or relevant. Having more information is not to understand it more and better. Technical perfection which, as Simmel would say, may appear to consciousness as an expression of general perfection, cannot be confused with “the perfection of the soul” and even less with wisdom. Personal maturity is not only having precise information, but also sense/meaning; public life is based on basic agreements which underpin the veracity of argumentation and interpersonal and institutional trust; attention is always directed to something considered valuable outside of it. Pertinence, significance, veracity, confidence and courage are not arrived at by correlations of statistical probability of algorithms or by scientific rationality but by a sociocultural, existential, ethical, aesthetic and poetic rationality.
The oceans of information and knowledge are immense, moving at speeds that human knowledge cannot follow, its incardination in the capitalist exploitation system imposes an instrumental rationality which corrodes the sense of the good life won so hard by democratic societies and the meaning of personal autonomy and human dignity. Institutions and cultural management professionals have therefore never been more necessary than now. But equally urgent and complex is to answer the question, what should or must deserve attention in cultural management? Scientific reflexivity which, as Weber noted, knows no purpose, is not sufficient for a proper response. We have to rely mainly on aesthetic reflexivity (Lash, 2000), ethics and poetic reason. These always take the existential meaning into consideration and, most notably, the existential meaning for people who are the victims of the risks. If scientific rationality is not enough, much less so is something similar such as economic rationality. Cultural policy must avoid all competitive temptation with the market and its logic, but European institutions and governments increasingly measure culture for its contribution to GDP. This market circumvention is not based on any transcendental principle of cultural superiority; it does not avoid the economic calculation of costs and profits, but is not subjected to it, simply because economic reason is not its raison d’etre.
Let me conclude by pointing out some of the tasks facing cultural management in the digital and risk society with some examples developed here.
- Create spaces for critical and public debate. In a society increasingly fragmented by various political, economic, social and cultural logics, which sometimes result in a symbolic and discursive war or secession of the elites (Ariño & Romero, 2016), interaction spaces are required. As stated by Lash in the early 90s, we live in societies where “there are no institutions promoting general conversations which cross class barriers” (1995, p. 105). A “home for good conversations” is needed because, it in turn supports Lynch, in the universe of the network one can dive into the comfortable enclaves of people who share the same opinions and beliefs. We need disturbing, awkward and uncomfortable spaces against ordinary passivity and indifference, existential comfort and, above all, against dogmatism and systematic manipulation of public opinion. As Streeck (2015) states, political participation in a democracy requires, in particular, the willingness to justify and recalibrate options of everyone in light of general principles, developing preferences, not in the sense of diversification, but rather its conjunction and unification. In addition, unlike the client relationship, citizenship requires widespread “support to the community as a whole”. In other words, people must be willing to submit their “raw” wishes to a collective critical examination in a kind of public debate.
- Create sociocultural innovation labs. As already mentioned, learning, creativity and innovation can range from mere rhetoric to a sentence to which we are subjected in a society where all are always noobs and newbies. For this reason, learning should be domesticated and subject to the purposes of a democratic society. In an era where work as we have known is over, but widespread pollination becomes more important; where environmental risks threaten the quality of human life or human life itself on the planet; the ageing population poses incalculable challenges, we need sociocultural innovation labs more than ever, to imagine, test and develop social technologies which allow us to lead a dignified life.
- Find and open new opportunities. In the miscellaneous universe of the network it is now possible to find new activity niches which were previously not possible due to problems of scale and organisational requirements. The Festival Internacional de Mediometrajes (International Short Films Festival) La Cabina is an example where “international” has a literal meaning, and it is based on a small team with great passion, tenacity and boldness. A second example is found in the Erasmus Programme. Students from different countries who participate in the Erasmus programme and come to our university are trained at the same time to develop their career in theatrical performance, reflecting critically about Europe and its future and getting connected with their families in real time during the performance.
- Redefine the institutions. When, for example, songs and symphonies, films and books are a click away, any intermediary changes purpose. Direct experience takes an unexpected value. Thus, a concert can be a celebration where the presence and physical proximity, the tangibility of performers, bands and artistic objects (the incunabula of a library, the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch) acquire an unusual importance . Cultural management today, more than ever, is to do with the propitiation of these personal and collective experiences. In this regard, we must not forget that experience and celebration are and have always been augmented reality.
- Leading the fight against persistent and new cultural inequality. Understood as semantics of individualisation is the set of terms which develop their semantic field such as self-realisation, self-control, self-responsibility and self-management and through the expansion of opportunities and choices of individuals at the time of determining their future (Zin, 2004 & 2007). This semantic would seem to imply that individuals are now released from their social anchors and only depend on their own decisions and merits, so that they are only to be considered responsible for what succeeds or fails. The empirical reality is quite different and contains a post-modern fallacy: risks are experienced and addressed individually rather than collectively although they are a result of socio-economic pressures on individuals (Furlong & Cartmel, 1997), be it in building their own career path, against the flexibility of the labour market, or how new stages of life are faced. Although it has weakened class identity, “the empirical evidence suggests that the degree and intensity of individualisation continues to be mediated through existing inequalities of class, sex, ethnicity and age as well as other differences such as sexuality and disability” (Abbot, Jones & Quilgars, 2006, p. 245). Individualisation does not entail overcoming class inequalities, neither cultural inequalities, which in turn are shaped by economic and educational resources. Elsewhere, we have argued that the maturation of educational systems creates new sources of inequality, especially in the cultural field. Lynch, meanwhile, argues that the internet creates new epistemic inequalities. In short, today there is more cultural inequality; it is larger, more diverse and more intense. You can live comfortably with it installed in an aristocratic intellectual indifference, justified by the “rude and filthy tastes” of the popular classes, but it does not cease to be a way to justify a tremendous injustice. Political and cultural management in this new context of the digital society is concerned with the, never solved, problem of cultural democratisation.
The risk society is a digital society; the digital society is a risk society. In all new technologies –and their more or less immediate promises – we are separated, as Beck would say, from the possible final results by “oceans of unknowing” or ignorance. Where does the cyborg and neurohaking experimentation lead? This manufactured uncertainty is not possible to attribute to the gods, nature or blindness to technical deployment because the human societies which have created it in this dynamic that we call “civilizational progress” are ambivalent. They generate suspicions of unpredictable threats, but spur – to whomever wants to hear their stanzas – them to change their implacable logic and open the doors to the viable unknown.
The word risk – Riesgo, Risiko, Risque, Rischio – apparently originates from Hispanic languages and was linked to marine navigation of uncharted waters (Donkin, 1864). A risco (crag) is a dangerous cliff or rock against which one can rush and crash into and which must be overcome deftly. In navigating the vast oceans or galaxies of knowledge and ignorance, captains and skilled and experienced pilots who promote reflexivity and reasonableness are needed; who help to understand and overcome unforeseen and undesirable dangers; to risk in the improbable to open opportunities in the present; to identify the real pirates in the mists of media manipulation; to revolt against the insecurities produced by illegitimate interests; to overcome information and data which hides facts; create narrative and accounts for people excluded and expelled from the social centrality.
As Gaston Berger, precursor of foresight, argued “Tomorrow will not be like yesterday. It will be new and will depend on us. It is less to be discovered than invented”. And Silberzahn (2012) concludes: “The traditional paradigm of decision making is indeed that of choosing among a number of options. But in uncertainty, the role of the decision maker is not so much to choose among pre-existing options but to create these options. The paradigm of decisions under uncertainty becomes the creation of options and their implementation under uncertainty”.
Beyond all these Things is the Internet of Us, the Internet of Me.
Finally, creators of existential meanings, producers of vital options, dreamers of the viable unknown, are also, and radically, cultural managers and institutions.
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 See, for instance, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (1729), or The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe (1785).
 “Puissances de la terre, aimez les talents, et protégez ceux qui les cultivent Peuples policés, cultivez-les : heureux esclaves, vous leur devez ce goût délicat et fin dont vous piquez; cette douceur de caractère et cette urbanité de mœurs qui rendent parmi vous le commerce si liant et si facile ; en un mot, les apparences de toutes les vertus sans en avoir aucune (…) Les récompenses sont prodiguées au bel esprit, et la vertu reste sans honneurs. Il y a mille prix pour les beaux discours, aucun pour les belles actions” (Rousseau, 1750).
 Economic theory about risk and instruments against it goes back to at least the 19th century.
 In this sense, Scott Lash’s work can be seen as complementary.
 “Through our past decisions about atomic energy and our present decisions about the use of genetic technology, human genetics, nanotechnology, and computer science, we unleash unforeseeable, uncontrollable, indeed, even incommunicable consequences that threaten life on earth” (Beck, 2003 , p. 257).
 “The use of sophisticated formal models is accompanied by crude simplifications characterising the risk situation” (Ciborra, 2004: 5).
 On trolls see Phillips (2015, p. 647-648).
 The validity of this economics of superstars thesis in all fields has recently been tested by Steven N. Kaplan and Joshua D. Rauh and disclosed in various articles (2013a & 2013b).
 For more information, see https://paulromer.net/talkin-bout-the-revolution/#more-1575
 For more information see the following websites: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/12/how-technology-disrupted-the-truth; http://rue89.nouvelobs.com/2016/07/12/journalisme-a-lere-reseaux-sociaux-lecon-guardian-264624 and http://internetactu.blog.lemonde.fr/2016/09/17/la-propagande-des-algorithmes-vraiment/
 For more information see The Guardian on July 12, 2016, available at: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/12/how-technology-disrupted-the-truth
 See the warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence signed, among others, by Stephen Hawking: http://futureoflife.org/open-letter-autonomous-weapons/
 “Danger of rushing like one who walks along dangerous cliffs and among crags; others want it to be said harshly because of the rigouressness one places when faced with difficult things. From there he said risk and be risked” (Donkin, 1864).
Born in Allepuz (Teruel), Antonio Ariño Villarroya is Full-University Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences. He is a graduate in Geography and History and is a Doctor in Sociology from the University of Valencia. His research focuses on the field of Sociology of Culture, Welfare Policy and Sociological Theory. He received the National Research Award for “La ciudad ritual” (The ritual city) (Anthropos). He currently is Director of the Centre for Participation and Quality of Life of University Students (ECoViPEU). He has recognised four periods of six years on research. In regards to his activities in teaching, he has taught General Sociology, Sociological Theory and Sociology of Culture. In addition, he has taught at the Master’s Degree in Cultural Management and Master’s Degree in Social and Health Care in Dependency.
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