ARPANet

Almost everything bad is the (largely) unintended consequence of utopians

James Delingpole reviews Matt Ridley’s book?Evolution of Everything.

[E]volution is a phenomenon which extends far beyond Darwin to embrace absolutely everything. The internet, for example. No one planned it. No one ??pace Al Gore and Tim Berners Lee ??strictly invented it. It just sprang up, driven by consumer need and made possible by available technology. As Ridley says: ?It is a living example, before our eyes, of the phenomenon of evolutionary emergence ? of complexity and order spontaneously created in a decentralised fashion without a designer.?

Which is what, of course, is such anathema to control freaks everywhere, from the Chinese, Iranian and Russian regimes to Barack Obama, who famously declared in 2012: ?The internet didn?t get invented on its own. Government research created the internet.?

This claim, as Ridley demonstrates, is at best moot, at worst flat-out untrue. In fact, government was actually responsible for postponing the internet. One of its early forms was the Pentagon-funded Arpanet, which until 1989 was prohibited for private or commercial purposes. An MIT handbook in the 1980s reminded users: ?sending electronic messages over the ARPAnet for commercial profit or political purposes is both antisocial and illegal?. Only after it was effectively privatised in the 1990s did the internet take off.

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