The Net is first and foremost a “mean”, it grants itself an “economical value”, in the strict sense of the word, whether “useful” or “rare”. A mean, or resource, is appreciated and used in the context of intentions or objectives. The contexts of the objectives of autonomous actors of the Net: Human beings, information systems and progressively objects, determine together its disposition of usefulness. However, the pursued purposes are multiples and in permanent evolution: there exists a multitude of uses of the NET, gradual or evolving. Does there exist then a “universal” intention, founded on the common purposes of all its actors? Any holistic approach here is obviously incomplete: We will always find actors of whom the purposes will come to nuance or contradict the preceding ones. Furthermore, we will not be able to find it a universal intention, therefore judging its utilities at the overall stage seems subjective and “cannot be decided”. On these criteria, the Net cannot be impartial or objective.

A useful & sought-after resource

Any useful resource available in abundance sees it economical value diminishes through time. In order to maintain its added value, one needs to define new utility models to stimulate effective demand: It is an intense creativity period where new results/purposes appear (There is here a partial explanation of the explosion of Web 2.0, of the emergence of the internet of things or Web 3.0). These new intentions, sometimes antagonizing, distance ourselves a little bit more from the idea of neutrality. If the resource becomes scarce, it economical value augments: new rules of sharing and access bring themselves up by sheer necessity in order to avoid conflict. Hence then the question of governance conflicting with interests and actual behaviors in place poses itself; each community resists and attempts to favor its own ecosystem…However, on this very question, it is very difficult to impose any top down change in behavioral values. In any case, which change would it pertain to? Does a “universal” ethic exist? Once again, in order for these changes to be neutral, they would have to define finalities common to all parties…Objective which remains close to impossible considering the fact that the actors cannot be simulated in convergence of objectives.

A false debate?

Internet cannot be finalized, it is a chaotic ensemble, instable and unpredictable. This nature is incompatible with any notion of neutrality, new phenomena develop themselves within internet by autocatalysis which cannot be judged or comprehended initially but that only may be observed “a posteriori” (systemic constraints)…We can, at best, only define within this realm the process rules of implementation and intervene depending on the ethical criteria which evolve concomitantly.

Philippe GAUTIER, translated from French by David KUNAU