Internet and Sustainability: An Interview with Glyn Moody

Here is my interview with Glyn Moody: it was really inspiring.

We talked about Internet, sustainability, smart working and the TAFTA/TTIP agreement.

Are you interested in these topics? Read the interview and let me know your opinion!


Andrea Licata: Everybody is talking about sustainability, governments, enterprises, politicians, scientists, social movements, which is your favourite definition of it?

Glyn Moody: As a mathematician, I suppose sustainability for me means something independent of time; that is, something that can be carried on indefinitely without changing the underlying situation in fundamental ways that make carrying on impossible.
Obviously, real-life sustainability rarely comes close, but as a goal it’s worth bearing in mind, I think.


AL: According to you, is there a relation between the Internet and sustainability?

GM: The Internet is not necessarily sustainable – we can run our computers in inefficient way, and use them to make the world a more dangerous and less stable place, as Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA and GCHQ surveillance have made clear. But potentially it allows many more activities to become sustainable.


AL: Do you think the current economic model is sustainable in the long term?

GM: I don’t think it’s even sustainable in the short term. The disastrous environmental consequences are staring us in the face every day. On top of that, the social problems of economic inequality are building up and will, I fear, lead to unrest around the world on a massive scale, especially when coupled with soil erosion, deforestation, desertification and rising sea levels.
We shouldn’t even be thinking about retaining the current economic model: it has failed on just about every measure. The only reason we retain it is because those it has made rich and powerful have huge influence with governments everywhere.


AL: As an expert on the TAFTA/TTIP agreement how would you describe it? And: In your view, is the TAFTA/TTIP agreement sustainable?

GM: TAFTA/TTIP is part of a larger attempt (along with its sister Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement) to lock the world’s economy and its future key players into the current unsustainable but highly profitable system. Although it is claimed to be a trade agreement, with the aim of reducing tariffs, this is plainly nonsense, since tariffs are already low (very low in the case of TAFTA/TTIP). Instead, this is about deregulation, to allow transnational corporations to reduce their costs still further, by moving even more production overseas and ignoring even the minimal health, safety and environmental protections that are in place locally.

In particular, the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism is designed to put corporations on the same level as nations, and to enable them to ignore legislation and judicial decisions that threaten their profits – it effectively gives them a “right to future profits”.
The proposed Regulatory Council for TAFTA/TTIP would allow corporations to veto regulations that tend to decrease their profits — for example, by increasing environmental or social protection.

Clearly, this anti-commons vision of the world is the antithesis of sustainable.


AL: This blog also intends to give space to good practises related to the so-called “smart working”. Do you think the Internet is a good instrument to improve our work life and, hence, quality of life (e.g. working from home, more free time and less car traffic)?

GM: I think the Internet is indeed an important means for “smart working”, but that doesn’t happen on its own. You have to create the right environment to make that possible – for example by establishing essential social relationships across the Internet.
It is also important to be disciplined in the use of online tools: it is very easy to be “at work” all the time, and so it is important to set aside time away from technology for family, friends – and yourself.

Glyn Moody

Glyn Moody is a writer, journalist and blogger.

He has been a technology journalist and consultant for nearly 30 years, covering the Internet since March 1994, and the free software world since 1995.

You can follow Glyn Moody on Twitter, or read Glyn Moody’s blog “Open…”

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