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Just as the printing press gave rise to the nation-state, emerging technologies are reshaping collective identities and challenging our understanding of what it means to be human.

Should citizens have the right to be truly anonymous on-line? Should we be concerned about the fact that so many people are choosing to migrate to virtual worlds? Are injectible microscopic radio-frequency ID chips a blessing or a curse? Is the use of cognitive enhancing nootropics a human right or an unforgivable transgression? Should genomic data about human beings be hidden away with commercial patents or open-sourced like software? Should hobbyists known as "biohackers" be allowed to experiment with genetic engineering in their home laboratories?

The time-frame for acting on such questions is relatively short, and these decisions are too important to be left up to a small handful of scientists and policymakers. If democracy is to continue as a viable alternative to technocracy, the average citizen must become more involved in these debates. To borrow a line from the computer visionary Ted Nelson, all of us can -- and must -- understand technology now.

Challenging the popular stereotype of hackers as ciminal sociopaths, reality hackers uphold the basic tenets of what Steven Levy (1984) terms the "hacker ethic." These core principles include a commitment to: sharing, openness, decentralization, public access to information, and the use of new technologies to make the world a better place.



Publication Date



Trinity University, Department of Communication


San Antonio

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Reality Hackers