Hidden behind the searchable internet world, there exists a network of sites that requires specific servers, browsers, or codes to access. These “dark” areas of the internet are commonly associated with bad behavior, crime, and even terrorism. British author Jamie Bartlett is not here to launch arguments in favor of censorship and surveillance, but rather provides an overview of the dark net. In this book, which came out to rave reviews in May 2015, Bartlett breaks down the dark net for the person wanting to broach the many ethical quandaries the internet provides. If you want an introduction to some of the controversies of living in a digital age, I definitely recommend you check this book out! I especially enjoyed the chapter highlighting the dark net war between the anti-immigrant British Nationalists and the group Antifa – short for “Antifascism.”
Also of particular interest was the brief discussion at the end of the book about transhumanism – a philosophy that embraces the digital age for all of the sophisticated ways it can enhance the human experience. Some computer geeks have already implanted experimental computer chips inside of their own bodies, something that seems sci-fi but is now reality. Also, apparently some of the leading transhumanist thinkers believe that by the middle of this century we will have the capability to upload the contents of our brains onto a digital interface! This is both scary and fascinating – I will most certainly be reading more about these transhumanists.
At the heart of The Dark Net is a cautionary tale: Yes, the internet is amazing, but it can also be vile and scary – much like humanity. I do recommend this book, but with certain warnings. The book opens with a story about a girl whose life is ruined for sport by internet “trolls” (full explanation and history of trolling included.) There is also a whole chapter about pornography, which I can fully understand some would rather skip over. This is not an appropriate book for kids, but it also isn’t terribly graphic. The book is interested in looking at how the dark net has changed the digital landscape – not glorifying particular aspects of the dark net. Just be prepared for frank discussions.