Wikileaks founder Julian Assange spoke as a guest at the Nantucket Project Sunday, and arrived in the most futuristic way possible: as a hologram.
For who are unfamiliar, the Nantucket project is a conference in Massachusetts where industry leaders and innovators gather around and discuss in panels or one-on one interviewers about whatever is on their mind and about their theme of the year- It’s essentially TED talks by super influential people.
As a closer for the last day of activities at the Nantucket Project, Assange spoke via hologram from the Ecuadorian Embassy (where he’s been confined for the last 839 days) about his view on censorship and the internet’s double-edged role in the new-age of information and had this to add about its effect on society’s perception of information:
“As a researcher, I’m all too well aware of what people are now calling Google blindness, that the information you can’t find on the Internet doesn’t exist. But the last five years have been the greatest period of education that ever existed. The greatest number of people to the greatest geographic extent are learning about their environment, and the complexities of the international environment.”
Other comments included a carping criticism of Google’s role in government surveillance of citizens, (Assange referred to Google as a privatized NSA and referred to the internet giant as a ‘revolving door’ of information for the National Security Agency) which is unsurprising considering that just last week he released When Google Met Wikileaks, his latest book detailing Wikileaks’ run-in with google in the form of a secret meeting in 2011 between The Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and Google Executive Eric Shmidt. The meeting was summarized to have been more of a debate between the two visionaries and their full conversation is available for free via audio here.
What makes Assange’s visit to the Nantucket Project even more surprising (hologram aside) is that the very man he’s criticizing, Eric Shmidt, is also attending the conference this year, and also has a book out: How Google Works.
When confronted with Assange’s “Revolving door” comment, Schmidt replied that Assange was being “paranoid”,to which a retailer of When Google Met Wikileaks teased:
When Google Met Wikileaks released last night. Google’s stock price dropped 2% today. Who’s paranoid now?
— OR Books (@orbooks) September 25, 2014
Although they might both be under the same roof this time, don’t expect kisses and make-up tweets; something tells us that Google and Wikileaks still remain filed under “irreconcilable differences”.
Assange’s complete talk at the Nantucket Project will be available on the Oct. 2 issue of The Inquirer and Mirror.