"They understood the Internet as a set of values"

From a book talk with Google's Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, May 2, 2013 https://youtu.be/z3Ynp2gjfQY

Walter Isaacson: But does technology eventually make democracy inevitable?

Jared Cohen: One of the observations that we actually came away with was from Myanmar. We’re in Myanmar about a little over a month ago. Less than one percent of the population has access to the Internet. Up until eighteen months ago it was one of the worst dictatorships in the entire world. Now it’s in some kind of transition, still very much speculative, about whether it’s a democratic transition.

What was interesting about Myanmar and perhaps something that shocked even us is even though less than one percent of the population has access to the Internet, everybody had heard of it.

And they understood the Internet as a set of values, as a concept, as an idea, even before they had experienced it as a user, or as a tool.

And their understanding of the internet was not based on a Chinese interpretation of the Internet, it was not based on an autocrat’s version of the internet, they understood it in terms of it its western values of the free flow of information and civil liberties.

And what that means to us is you have 57 percent of the world’s population living under some kind of an autocracy. What happens when their regimes try to create an autocratic internet that doesn’t correspond with their democratic understanding of what it should be? What does that clash look like?

We don't know the answer to that yet.