Home Philosophy The Onlife Manifesto
The purpose of this chapter was to cast light on some of the issues that ought to be questioned, prioritized, and made relevant, so as to stress what is specific to the legal and political dimensions of the onlife governance. Starting with current definitions of governance, good governance, and good enough governance in Sect. 2, the analysis dwelt on the complex ways in which multi-agent systems interact in light of the difference between kosmos and taxis, on one side, and between game players and game designers, on the other. By taking into account the examples of local customs, international uses, and transnational markets, that is, the traditional forms of spontaneous orders examined by a Nobel laureate (Hayek 1982), what is critical today concerns, on the one hand, the evolutionary processes of multi-agent systems that are ICTs-dependent, ubiquitous, and moreover, cannot be reduced to the taxis-side of governance. Going back to the debate on the ethical foundations of today's cyberspace, e.g., David Post's republican institutions that shall respect the equal worth of all individuals, it is admittedly an open question how such institutions should be built, and even conceived of (Post 2009; Solum 2009; Reed 2012; etc.): yet, the paper has shown how often the efficiency and legitimacy of traditional hard and soft-law tools of governance depend on what scholars present as “network effect.” Legislators, policy makers and, generally speaking, governance actors shall preventively understand the political, legal and economical relevance of what spontaneously emerges and evolves onlife, namely that which we discussed above in Sect. 4.
On the other hand, what is specific of today's onlife governance revolves around the role of game designers. In addition to the debate on the institutional issues of current governance, and how its traditional hard and soft law-tools should be distributed among political authorities, societal actors, and economic players, such as lobbies and stakeholders, the challenges of the information revolution have induced complementing such tools, e.g., guidelines and best practices, through the mechanisms of design, codes and architectures. This new scenario affects basic pillars of the law and democratic processes, by reshaping the balance between resolution and representation, much as the right of the individuals to have a say in the decisions affecting them. Here, the three levels of analysis discussed above in Sect. 5 are critical. When the aim is to broaden the range of people's choices, so as to encourage the change of their behaviour, such design policy is legally and politically sound: this approach to design prevents threats of paternalism that hinge on the regulatory tools of technology, since it fosters collective and individual autonomy. Likewise, the aim of design to decrease the impact of harm-generating behaviour through the use of digital airbags, such as security measures or user friendly interfaces, respects collective and individual autonomy, because this approach to design does not impinge on people's choices, no more than traditional airbags affect how individuals behave on the highways. Yet, to complement the hard and soft-law tools of governance by design entails its own risks, when the aim is to prevent harm-generating behaviour from occurring.
Although many impasses of today's legal and political systems can properly be addressed by embedding legal safeguards into ICT and other kinds of technology, there are several legal, ethical and technical reasons why the use of allegedly perfect self-enforcing technologies raises serious threats of paternalism and, even, of authoritarianism. Whether DRMs, automatic versions of the principle of privacy by design, three-strikes approaches, China's “Great Firewall,” or Western systems of filters in order to control the flow of information on the internet, the result is the modelling of individual conduct. As game designers dealing with the challenges of the information revolution, this paper suggested why governance actors ought to consider the use of self-enforcing technologies as the exception, or a last resort option, to minimize the informational entropy of the system or, vice versa, to promote its flourishing and that of its informational objects. What is at stake here is “complex,” because the legal and political challenges of the information revolution often concern the whole infrastructure and environment of people's interaction. Recent statutes, such as HADOPI in France, or DEA in UK, show how new ways of protecting citizens even against themselves do materialize.
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