The Philosophy of
Data Rebels

A quick note: Before we dive deep into this, I must be clear here: The philosophy behind Data Rebels is clearly stated in the book Data Dictatorships: The Arms Race to Hack Humankind. The book is free, you can go ahead and download it here. But what you’ll find below is a summary of the points behind the book. If you want to understand the thinking behind these words, you should read the book. This is not a substitute of the book, but it's a great place to get started.

1. The Problem

We are living in interesting times. Mankind is currently at an extraordinary inflection point in history, where our decisions and actions today will determine the future for better or worse.

The past decades, rebuilding after WWII, we have seen tremendous growth of our wellfare and wellbeing. Democracies have blossomed while our economies have boomed. Capitalism and an exponential rise of technology were the enablers that have lifted so many people out of poverty.

But this success story is coming to a dramatic end, unless we make some drastic changes. Resource scarcity and environmental pressures have put cracks to our economic systems, and under great pressure capitalism is now changing. Transforming into some new malevolent shape, something that no longer serves mankind as a whole. Capitalism has become a self-reinforcing survival-of-the-fittest game. A vicious cycle - or Ponzi-scheme really - creating ever more wealth inequality in the world.

As a result a new class of plutocrats has formed. An elite group of ultra-rich and powerful people that stand aloof above the rest of humanity. A group determined to maintain this status quo. Yes, to become even more powerful, extend their status and to survive at any cost. These people care mostly about themselves, to the detriment of others.

The huge problem that us - regular folks - face, is that these oligarchs own our technology. They own the means to research them, to produce them and to subsequently wield them in any way they wish. And so - with technology becoming godlike - these plutocrats will become like gods. The power elites that rule and dominate us as they see fit.

That is … if we allow that to happen. Here is where you and I come into the picture and why We Are Data Rebels!

We are threatened by the rise of data dictatorships. Our pervasive use of the internet and our online behaviour have robbed us of most of our privacy. All our personal data is unwittingly sucked up, processed and increasingly used by unknown entities to take control over our lives. While you may not notice that now, you will soon experience your liberties being stripped away, one by one. Captivating you until you are no longer free.

The problem we need to solve is that science fiction has become dire reality. 1984 has arrived and Big Brother is watching you. A brave new world is dawning. Know that you are the main character in this plot, and so am I. We have to make it to the end together, make things well again, so how do we play the game? Do you have what it takes?

Are you a Data Rebel?

2. The philosophy of Data Rebels

Throughout history, whenever a revolution was igniting nobody noticed it until it exploded. It’s only in hindsight when it’s easy to spot the moment when it ignited.

Right now we’re living in the moment of ignition. This is a revolution. Maybe we don’t see it that way, but it is.

In the ancient world, like the classicist Moses Finley often said, all revolutionary movements had the following agenda: To cancel all the debts and redistribute the land.

Today our demand is no different, it just needs a small tweak:

Cancel all the debts and stop surveillance on us.

We are all in debt. We’re in social debt to Data Dictatorships. Because everything we have done online or offline has been recorded. Everything we do right now is being recorded and processed to keep us in check. Everything will be recorded and used against us. It will last forever. We’re not allow to forget.

Our ledger is dripping red. And this debt can’t be erased. But that has to change.

The Data Rebellion movement has started.

This is a revolution. And what revolutions do is destroy the perfect and enable the impossible.

Perfect as the system Data Autocrats gave us to play in. And impossible as the freedom and liberties people didn’t think were theirs in the first place.

We’re living in a thoughtful, well designed system that has sucked us in. And what we have done throughout this book is to decode that system. And once we’ve done that, we have decoded how Data Dictatorships operate and this has given us the ability to uncover the vulnerabilities in their system that will allow us to resist.

While we’re what makes the system run, we’re also the only thing that could tear Data Dictatorships to the ground. If we stand up, their system will crash.

This is critical to understand. We can all agree on the threats we’re facing, but believing is not enough. We’ve got to stand up against the system if we want to change it. It’s crucial that we take this revolution to the streets. It’s critical for the survival of our democracies. For the survival of our freedom.

Freedom of choice.

Freedom of speech.

Freedom of thinking by oneself.

Freedom to forget.

Freedom of debt.

Now more than ever is when we have to protect our principles. Principles that we put on hold during difficult times aren’t principles. Principles really count when they’re difficult to maintain.

And this is a tough one. If it were easy, we would have found a solution already. But this is why we’re here.

We’re here because we stand for something.

We’re Data Rebels. They’ll call revolutionaries, anarchists, crazy, rebels, troublemakers. But we’re change makers.

We’re activists. We’re vigilantes. We’re a collective body. We can’t be broken. Because you can’t break an idea. We’re unbreakable.

3. Data Rebels Master Plan

Freedom isn’t something we should take for granted. You have to work hard to get it. But you have to work twice as hard to maintain it. The actual way to obtain freedom is realizing that you’re a potential slave of whoever knows how to pull the emotional strings that make you feel something or desire one thing over the other. It starts by acknowledging what’s really happening, and then getting to know yourself. And this takes time.

But we’ve got no time.

Let’s be honest, most people aren’t even curious to get to know themselves. And that would be okay if it’s just them. But we’ve got two big problems here: (1) We’re talking about the majority of the population. And (2) even if we were talking about a small group of people, it still threatens democracies around the world and jeopardizes our rights.

Right now we’re facing a variety of global threats. And we can’t solve them on a national scale. These threats require global coordination. We’ve got not only technological disruptions, but also the ecological crisis and the threat of nuclear war—and yes, this isn’t just something that happened during the Cold War. There are still a lot of nukes around.

And of course, we’ve got the rise of Data Dictatorships disrupting everything that’s in their way in their search for power.

These are timely issues. Even if people decided to get to know themselves now, we’ve got no time. We don’t have that luxury anymore. 

These are issues that require global cooperation. Otherwise we won’t be able to prevent the worst outcomes.

And right now, there’s not single sign that we’re heading towards any form of global cooperation. In fact, we’re walking in the opposite direction.

I’m a big believer in hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. I don’t want you to believe that this is all gloom and doom. But we shouldn’t take Data Dictatorships lightly. Everything indicates that there’s a big fight ahead of us. This time we can’t just wait and see. This time we have to grab life by the balls, get our sh*t together and earn our rights.

The Data Rebels Master Plan is our road to freedom.

4. The Data Rebel Survival Kit