Two centuries ago, rulers sought to convince subjects that they should embrace the notion of “enlightened despotism,” living without rights under the beneficent watch of overlords. Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II summed up the idea with the maxim “everything for the people, nothing by the people.”
Today, we seem to be living in an age of enlightened corporate despotism, where social media and technology companies watch over what we read and what we discuss to protect us from ourselves.
That corporate governance model was on display this month when Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called on Amazon CEO Andy Jassy to use algorithms to steer readers away from books that spew “misinformation.”
Enlightened algorithms are already responsible for large-scale censorship across social media platforms that reach global audiences. They “stand the wall” as sentinels against dangerous ideas.