Friday, November 14, 2014

"Mark Cuban presents the great net neutrality novel of our time: 'Atlas Unplugged'"

From The Verge:
Mark Cuban is known as a billionaire entrepreneur, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and the creator of the EFF's "Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents." Henceforth, he will also be known as the creator of the greatest piece of fiction ever written about net neutrality: an update to the Objectivist pulp classic Atlas Shrugged for the internet age.

Cuban's construction is a little confusing at first because, as we all know, Ayn Rand loved trains and hated regulation. But he's comparing net neutrality rules, which would forbid internet service providers from offering different speeds to different companies for a price, with Atlas Shrugged's fictional rules, like the Equalization of Opportunity Bill that gave inferior companies an advantage over superior ones. And he's saying that the real-world justifications for net neutrality (it would stop de facto monopolies like Comcast from creating artificial barriers between new companies and subscribers) are as disingenuous as the reasoning of "looters" in Rand's dystopia:
"It was unfair to let one man hoard several business enterprises, while others had none; it was destructive to let a few corner all the resources, leaving others no chance; competition was essential to society, and it was society's duty to see that no competitor ever rose beyond the range of anybody who wanted to compete with him."
But that's just boring policy, so we can get to the real meat of his tweets. Namely, a reboot of Atlas Shrugged in which protagonist Dagny Taggart must defend Comcast from the wily machinations of the newly introduced villain Reed Hastings with the help of internet backbone magnate Hank Rearden — who has developed a revolutionary new kind of fiber optic cable that his competitors are desperate to suppress or steal — and the mysterious John Galt....MORE