- Technology allows one person to wield the power of many.
- Technology allows many people to communicate very quickly and effectively.
In some ways, these are two opposing factors. If one person can wield the power of many, someday it may be possible for a very small group of people to directly control the daily lives of all of humanity. For example, my roommate is one of a handful of people building Big Dog, an autonomous robotic pack mule funded by DARPA. In its last trial run, Big Dog walked seven miles across uneven terrain all by itself. Robot patrol dogs, anyone?
On the flip side, large-scale collective communication vastly increases the knowledge, and therefore power, of the proletarians. Buy It Like You Mean It is a great example where sharing of knowledge between consumers increases control over big corporations.
However, the system upon which this communication relies is a physical system, and like any earthly resource, it can be controlled. Relatively few corporations own the communications backbones which make up the Internet – AT&T, Sprint, Cable & Wireless, etc.
An important future battleground is this: Will our global communications systems be controlled by a small group of people, or will humanity at large manage to maintain it as a democratically controlled system used for free exchange of ideas?
Given the natural cycles of change, I imagine that variations of these scenarios will play out, in different forms, many times throughout our collective evolution.