Monthly Archives: December 2016

“Meeting the Great Data Challenge: The Case for a Constitution of Information” in Global Asia (January 2017)





Meeting the Great Data Challenge:

The Case for a Constitution of Information

Meeting the Great Data Challenge

The Case for a Constitution of Information



Global Asia

Winter, 2016





Emanuel Pastreich

The w o r l d has been rocked in recent weeks by reports of rampant fake news stories circulating through social media that have the potential to completely disrupt the political process and undermine the international standards for transparency and accountability that we have come to take for granted. So serious has the problem become that Face – book has proposed a new system to identify doubt ful news reports and tag them for readers, as well as to limit the circulation of such stories. However, in the case of Facebook, the third party assigned to confirm the accuracy of reports is a fact-checking network established by Poynter, a nonprofit school for journalism in St. Petersburg, Florida, in collaboration with ABC News, Politifact, Fact Check, Snopes and the Associated Press.

But is Poynter’s “fact checking network” the best place for Facebook, or anyone else, to turn for a determination of what is accurate? After all, many of those media organizations have themselves been caught passing questionable stories in the build up to the Iraq War and other recent incidents. All this comes on top of the divisive dispute concerning the massive hacking of the emails of the Democratic National Committee in the United States by Wikileaks, an act which has been attributed to Russian intelligence as part of explicit Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Assuring that information in the media is accurate, or that email is secure, is no longer a personal issue.

False information, in increasingly realistic formats, can be profoundly disruptive to the international order. Moreover, the exponential evolution of technology suggests that these current crises are but part of a far more serious transformation of our society that we have yet to address directly. We will face devastating existential questions in the years ahead as human civilization enters a potentially catastrophic transformation driven not by the foibles of man, but rather by the exponential increase in our capability to gather, store, share, alter and fabricate information of every form, coupled with a sharp drop in the cost of doing so. Such basic issues as how we determine what is true and what is real, who controls institutions and organizations, and what has intellectual and spiritual significance for us will become increasingly problematic.

In the case of the US, the emerging challenge cannot be solved simply by updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 to meet the demands of the present day;1 it will require a rethinking of our society and culture and new, unprecedented, institutions.


A change in human life itself

The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that there were at least 4.4 zettabytes (4.4 trillion gigabytes) of digital data in 2013 and that the total will rise to an astounding 44 zettabytes by 2020.2 The explosion in the amount of information circulating in the world, and the increase in the ease with which that information can be obtained or altered, will change every aspect of our lives, from education and governance to friendship and kinship, to the very nature of human experience. We need a comprehensive response to the information revolution that not only proposes innovative ways to employ new technologies in a positive manner, but also addresses the serious, unprecedented challenges that they present for us. The ease with which information of every form can now be reproduced and altered is an epistemological, ontological and governmental challenge for us.

Let us concentrate on the issue of governance here. The manipulability of information is increasing in all aspects of life, but the constitutions — whether in the US or elsewhere — on which we base our laws and our government has little to say about information, and nothing to say about the transformative wave sweeping through society as a result. Moreover, we have trouble grasping the seriousness of the information crisis because it alters the very lens through which we perceive the world.

If we rely on the Internet to tell us how the world changes, for example, we are blind to how the Internet itself is evolving and how that evolution impacts human relations. For that matter, given that our very thought patterns are molded over time by the manner in which we receive information, we may come to see information that is presented online as more reliable than our direct perceptions of the physical world. The information revolution has the potential to dramatically change human awareness of the world and inhibit our ability to make decisions if we are surrounded with convincing data whose reliability we cannot confirm. These challenges call out for a direct and systematic response.

There are a range of piecemeal solutions to the crisis being undertaken around the world. The changes, however, are so fundamental that they call out for a systematic response. We need to hold an international constitutional convention through which we can draft a legally binding global “constitution of information” that will address the fundamental problems created by the information revolution and set down clear guidelines for how we can control the terrible cultural and institutional fluidity created by this information revolution.

The process of identifying the problems born of the massive shift in the nature of information, and suggesting workable solutions will be complex, but the issue calls out for an entirely new universe of administration and jurisprudence regarding the control, use and abuse of information. As the American writer and novelist James Baldwin once wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

An information constitution


The changes cannot be dealt with through mere extensions of the US Constitution or the existing legal code, nor can it be left to intelligence agencies, communications companies, congressional committees or international organizations that were not designed to handle the convergence of issues related to increased computational power, but end up formulating information policy by default.

We must bravely set out to build a consensus in the US, and around the world, about the basic definition of information, how information should be controlled and maintained, and what the long-term implications of the shifting nature of information will be for humanity. We should then launch a constitutional convention and draft a document that sets forth a new set of laws and responsible agencies for assessing the accuracy of information and addressing its misuse.

Those who may object to such a constitution of information as a dangerous form of centralized authority likely to encourage further abuse are not fully aware of the difficulty of the problems we face. The abuse of information has already reached epic proportions, and we are just at the beginning of an exponential increase. There should be no misunderstanding: I am not suggesting a totalitarian Ministry of Truth that undermines a world of free exchange between individuals. Rather, I am proposing a system that will bring accountability, institutional order and transparency to the institutions and companies that already engage in the control, collection, and alteration of information.

Failure to establish a constitution of information will not assure preservation of an Arcadian utopia, but rather encourage the emergence of even greater fields of information collection and manipulation entirely beyond the purview of any institution. The result will be increasing manipulation of human society by dark and invisible forces for which no set of regulations has been established — that is already largely the case.

The constitution of information, in whatever form it may take, is the only way to start addressing the hidden forces in our society that tug at our institutional chains. Drafting a constitution is not merely a matter of putting pen to paper. The process requires the animation of that document in the form of living institutions with budgets and mandates. It is not my intention to spell out the full parameters of such a constitution of information and the institutions that it would support, because a constitution of information can only be successful if it engages living institutions and corporations in a complex and painful process of deal-making and compromises that, like the American Constitutional Convention of 1787, is guided at a higher level by certain idealistic principles.

The ultimate form of such a constitution cannot be predicted or determined in advance, and to present a version in advance here would be counterproductive. We can, however, identify some of the key challenges and the issues that would be involved in drafting such a constitution of information.

Threats posed by the Information Revolution

The ineluctable increase of computational power in recent years has simplified the transmission, modification, creation and destruction of massive amounts of information, rendering all information fluid, mutable and potentially unreliable. The rate at which information can be rapidly and effectively manipulated is enhanced by an exponential rise in the capacity of computers.

Following Moore’s Law, which suggests that the number of microprocessors that can be placed on a chip will double every 18 months, the capacity of computers continues to increase dramatically, whereas human institutions change only very slowly.3 That gap between technological change and the evolution of human civilization has reached an extreme, all the more dangerous because so many people have trouble grasping the nature of the challenge and blame the abuse of information on the dishonesty of individuals or groups rather than on the technological change itself.

The cost for surveillance of electronic communications, for keeping track of the whereabouts of people and for documenting every aspect of human and non-human interaction, is dropping so rapidly that what was the exclusive domain of supercomputers at the National Security Agency a decade ago is now entirely possible for developing countries, and will soon be in the hands of individuals.

In 10 years, when vastly increased computational power will mean that a modified laptop computer can track billions of people with considerable resolution, and that capability is combined with autonomous drones, we will need a new legal framework to respond in a systematic manner to the use and abuse of information at all levels of society.

If we start to plan the institutions that we will need, we can avoid the greatest threat: the invisible manipulation of information without accountability. As the cost of collecting information becomes inexpensive, it is becoming easier to collect and sort massive amounts of data about individuals and groups and to extract from that information relevant detail about their lives and activities.

Seemingly insignificant data taken from garbage, e-mails and photographs can now be easily combined and systematically analyzed to essentially give as much information about individuals as a government might obtain from wiretapping — although emerging technology makes the process easier to implement and harder to detect. Increasingly smaller devices can take photographs of people and places over time with great ease, and that data can be combined and sorted so as to obtain extremely accurate descriptions of the daily lives of individuals — who they are and what they do.

Such information can be combined with other information to provide complete profiles of people that go beyond what the individuals know about themselves. As cameras are combined with mini-drones in the years to come, the range of possible surveillance will increase dramatically. Global regulations will be an absolute must for the simple reason that it will be impossible to stop the gathering of this form of big data. In the not-too-distant future, it will be possible to fabricate cheaply not only texts and data, but all forms of photographs, recordings and videos with such a level of verisimilitude that fictional artifacts indistinguishable from their historically accurate counterparts will compete for our attention. Currently, existing processing power can be combined with intermediate user-level computer skills to effectively alter information, whether still-frame images using programs like Photoshop or videos using Final Cut Pro.

Digital information platforms for photographs and videos are extremely susceptible to alteration and the problem will get far worse. It will be possible for individuals to create convincing documentation, photos or videos, in which any event involving any individual is vividly portrayed in an authentic manner. It will be increasingly easy for any number of factions and interest groups to make up materials that document their perspectives, creating political and systemic chaos. Rules stipulating what is true, and what is not, will no longer be an option when we reach that point. Of course, the authority of an organization to make a call as to what information is true brings with it incredible risks of abuse. Nevertheless, although there will be great risk in enabling a group to make binding determinations concerning what is authentic (and there will clearly be a political element to truth as long as humans rule society), the danger posed by inaction is far worse.

What is reality?

When fabricated images and movies can no longer be distinguished from reality by the observer and computers can easily create new content, it will be possible to continue these fabrications over time, thereby creating convincing alternative realities with considerable mimetic depth. At that point, the ability to create convincing images and videos will merge with the next generation of virtual reality technologies to further confuse the issue of what is real. We will see the emergence of virtual worlds that appear at least as real as the one that we inhabit.

If some event becomes a consistent reality in those virtual worlds, it may be difficult, if not impossible, for people to comprehend that the event never actually “happened,” thereby opening the door for massive manipulation of politics and ultimately of history. Once we have complex virtual realities that present a physical landscape with almost as much depth as the real world, and the characters have elaborate histories and memories of events over decades and form populations of millions of anatomically distinct virtual people, the potential for confusion will be tremendous. It will no longer be clear what reality has authority, and many political and legal issues will be unsolvable.

But that is only half of the problem. These virtual worlds are already extending into social networks. An increasing number of people on Facebook are not actual people at all, but characters and avatars created by third parties. As computers grow more powerful, it will be possible to create thousands, then hundreds of thousands, of individuals on social networks who have complex personal histories and personalities.

These virtual people will be able to engage human partners in compelling conversations that pass the Turing Test — the inability of humans to distinguish answers to the same question given to them by machines and people. And, because these virtual people can write messages and Skype 24 hours a day, and customize their messages to what the individual finds interesting, they can be more attractive than human “friends” and have the potential to seriously distort our very concept of society and reality. There will be a concrete and practical need for a set of codes and laws to regulate such an environment.


The rise of fake truth

Over time, virtual reality may end up seeming much more real and convincing to people who are accustomed to it than actual reality. That issue is particularly relevant when it comes to the next generation, who will be exposed to virtual reality from infancy.

Yet, virtual reality is fundamentally different from the real world. For example, virtual reality is not subject to the same laws of causality. The relations between events can be altered with ease in virtual reality, and epistemological assumptions from the concrete world do not hold. Virtual reality can muddle such basic concepts as responsibility and guilt, or the relationship of self and society. It will be possible in the not-too-distant future to convince people of something using faulty or irrational logic whose only basis is in virtual reality. This fact has profound implications for every aspect of law and institutional functionality. And if falsehoods are continued in virtual reality — which seems to represent reality accurately — over time in a systematic way, interpretations of even common-sense assumptions about life and society will diverge, bringing everything into question.

As virtual reality expands its influence, we will have to make sure that certain principles are upheld even in virtual space, to assure that it does not create chaos in our very conception of the public sphere. That process, I hold, cannot be governed in the legal system that we have at present.

New institutions will have to be developed. The dangers of increasingly unverifiable information are perhaps a greater threat than even terrorism. While the idea of individuals or groups setting off “dirty bombs” is certainly frightening, imagine a world in which the polity can never be sure whether anything they see/read/hear is true or not. This threat is at least as significant as surveillance operations, but has received far less attention. The time has come for us to formulate the institutional foundation that will define and maintain firm parameters for the use, alteration and retention of information on a global scale.

You are being watched

We live in a money-based economy, but the information revolution is altering the nature of money itself right before our eyes. Money has gone from an analog system that was once restricted to the amount of gold a government possessed to a digital system in which the only limitation on the amount of money represented in computers is the tolerance for risk on the part of the players involved and the ability of national and international institutions to monitor the system.

In any case, the mechanisms are now in place to alter the amount of currency, or for that matter many other items such as commodities or stocks, without any effective global oversight. The value of money and the quantity in circulation can be altered with increasing ease, and current safeguards are clearly insufficient. The problem willgrow worse as computational power, and the number of players who can engage in complex manipulations of money, increases.

Then there is the explosion in the field of drones and robots, devices of increasingly small size that can conduct detailed surveillance and that increasingly are capable of military action and other forms of interference in human society. The US had no armed drones and no robots when it entered Afghanistan, but it has now more than 8,000 drones in the air and more than 12,000 robots on the ground.

The number of drones and robots will continue to increase rapidly and they are increasingly being used in the US and around the world without regard for borders. As the technology becomes cheaper, we will see more tiny drones and robots that can operate outside of any legal framework. They will be used to collect information, but they can also be hacked and serve as portals for the distortion and manipulation of information at every level.

Moreover, drones and robots have the potential to carry out acts of destruction and other criminal activities whose source can be hidden because of ambiguities over control and agency. For this reason, the rapidly emerging world of drones and robots deserves to be treated at great length within the constitution of information.


Drafting the Constitution of Information

The constitution of information could become an internationally recognized, legally binding document that lays down rules for maintaining the accuracy of information and protecting it from abuse. It could also set down the parameters for institutions charged with maintaining long-term records of accurate information against which other data can be checked, thereby serving as the equivalent of an atomic clock for exact reference in an age of considerable confusion.

The ability to certify the integrity of information is an issue that is of an order of magnitude more serious than the intellectual property issues on which most international lawyers focus today, and deserves to be identified as a field entirely in itself — with a constitution of its own that serves as the basis for all future debate and argument.

This challenge of drafting a constitution of information requires a new approach and a bottom-up design in order to sufficiently address the gamut of complex, interconnected issues found in transnational spaces like that in which digital information exists. The governance systems for information are simply not sufficient, and overhauling them to meet the standards necessary would be much more work and much less effective than designing and implementing an entirely new, functional system, which the constitution of information represents. Moreover, the rate of technological change will require a system that can be updated and made relevant while at the same time safeguarding against it being captured by vested interests or made irrelevant. A possible model for the constitution of information can be found in the “Freedom of Information” section of the new Icelandic constitution drafted in 2011.

The Constitutional Council engaged in a broad debate with citizens and organizations throughout the country about the content of the new constitution, which described in detail mechanisms required for government transparency and public accessibility that are far more aligned with the demands of today than other similar documents.5 It would be meaningless, however, to merely put forth a model, international constitution of information without the process of drafting it because without the buy-in of institutions and individuals in its formulation, the constitution would not have the authority necessary for it to be accepted and to function. The process of debate and compromise that would determine the contours of that constitution would endow it with social and political significance, and, like the US Constitution of 1787, it would become the core for governance.

For that matter, the degree to which the content of the constitution of information would be legally enforceable would have to be part of the discussion held at the convention.

Constitutional convention

To respond to this global challenge, we should call a constitutional convention in which a series of basic principles and enforceable regulations would be put forward that are agreed upon by major institutions responsible for policy — including national governments and supranational organizations and multinational corporations, research institutions, intelligence agencies, NGOs, and a variety of representatives from other organizations.

Deciding who to invite and how will be difficult, but it should not be a stumbling block. The US Constitution has proven quite effective over the last few centuries even though it was drafted by a group that was not representative of the population of North America at the time.

Although democratic process is essential to good government, there are moments in history in which we confront deeper ontological and epistemological questions that cannot be addressed by elections or referendums and require a select group of individuals like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. At the same time, the constitutional convention cannot be merely a gathering of wise individuals, but will have to involve those directly engaged in the information economy and information policy.

That process of drafting a constitution will involve the definition of key concepts, the establishment of the legal and social limits of the constitution’s authority, the formulation of a system for evaluating the use and misuse of information and policy suggestions that respond to abuses of information on a global scale. The text of this constitution of information should be carefully drafted with a literary sense of language so that it will outlive the specifics of the moment and with a clear historic vision and unmistakable idealism that will inspire future generations, just as the US Constitution continues to inspire Americans.

This constitution cannot be a flat bureaucratic rehashing of existing policies on privacy and security. We must be aware of the dangers involved in trying to determine what is and is not reliable information as we draft the constitution of information. It is essential to set up a workable system for assuring the integrity of information, but multiple safeguards, and checks and balances will be necessary. There should be no assumptions as to what the constitution of information would ultimately be, but only the requirement that it should be binding and that the process of drafting it should be cautious but honest.

Private versus public

Following David Brin’s argument in his book The Transparent Society, 6 one essential assumption should be that privacy will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to protect in the current environment. We must accept, paradoxically, that much information must be made “public” in some sense in order to preserve its integrity and its privacy. That is to say that the process of rigorously protecting privacy is not sufficient, granted the overwhelming changes that will take place in the years to come.

Brin draws heavily on Steve Mann’s concept of sousveillance, a process through which ordinary people could observe the actions of the rich and powerful so as to counter the power of the state or the corporation to observe the individual.The basic assumption behind sousveillance is that there is no means of arresting the development of technologies for surveillance and that those with wealth and power will be able to deploy such technologies more effectively than ordinary citizens. Therefore, the only possible response to increased surveillance is to create a system of mutual monitoring to assure symmetry, if not privacy.

Although the constitution of information does not assume that a system that allows the ordinary citizen to monitor the actions of those in power is necessary, the importance of creating information systems that monitor all information in a 360-degree manner should be seriously considered as part of a constitution of information. The one motive for a constitution of information is to undo the destructive process of designating information as classified and blocking off reciprocity and accountability on a massive scale.

We must assure that multiple parties are involved in that process of controlling information so as to assure its accuracy and limit its abuse. In order to achieve the goal of assuring accuracy, transparency and accountability on a global scale, but avoiding massive institutional abuse of the power over information that is granted, we must create a system for monitoring information with a balance of powers at the center. Brin suggests a rather primitive system in which the ruled balance out the power of rulers through an equivalent system for observing and monitoring that works from below. I am skeptical that such a system will work unless we create large and powerful institutions within government (or the private sector) itself that have a functional need to check the power of other institutions.

Perhaps it is possible to establish a complex balance of powers wherein information is monitored and abuses can be controlled, or punished, according to a meticulous, painfully negotiated agreement between stakeholders. It could be that ultimately information would be governed by three branches of government, something like the legislative, executive and judicial systems that has served well for many constitution-based governments.

Accuracy assurance

The need to assure accuracy may ultimately be more essential than the need to protect privacy. The general acceptance of inaccurate descriptions of a state of affairs, or of individuals, is profoundly damaging and cannot be easily rectified. For this reason, I suggest as part of the three branches of government, that a “three keys” system for the management of information be adopted. That is to say that sensitive information will be accessible — otherwise we cannot assure that information will be accurate — but that information can only be accessed when three keys representing the three branches of government are presented.

That process would assure that accountability can be maintained, because three institutions whose interests are not necessarily aligned must be present to access that information. Systems for the gathering, analysis and control of information on a massive scale have already reached a high level of sophistication. What is sadly lacking is a larger vision of how information should be treated for the sake of our society.

Most responses to the information revolution have been extremely myopic, dwelling on the abuse of information by corporations or intelligence agencies without considering the structural and technological background of those abuses. To merely attribute the misuse of information to a lack of human virtue is to miss the profound shifts sweeping through society today.

The constitution of information will be fundamentally different than most constitutions in that it must contain both rigidity, in terms of holding all parties to the same standards, and also considerable flexibility, in that it can readily adapt to new situations resulting from rapid technological change. The rate at which information can be stored and manipulated will continue to increase and new horizons and issues will emerge, perhaps more quickly than expected. For this reason, the constitution of information cannot be overly static and must derive much of its power from its vision.


The representative system

We can imagine a legislative body to represent all the elements of the information community engaged in the regulation of the traffic and the quality of information as well as individuals and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It would be a mistake to assume that the organizations represented in that “legislature” would necessarily be nation states according to the United Nations formulation of global governance.

The limits of the nation state concept with regards to information policy are increasingly obvious, and this constitutional convention could serve as an opportunity to address the massive institutional changes that have taken place over the past 50 years. It would be more meaningful, in my opinion, to make the members companies, organizations, networks, local governments — a broad range of organizations that make the actual decisions concerning the creation, distribution and reception of information.

That part of the information security system would only be “legislative” in a conceptual sense. It would not necessarily have meetings or be composed of elected or appointed representatives. In fact, if we consider the fact that the actual physical meetings of government legislatures around the world are mostly rituals, we can sense that the whole concept of the legislative process requires much modification. The executive branch of the new information accuracy system would be charged with administering the policies based on the legislative branch’s policies. It would implement rules concerning information to preserve its integrity and prevent its misuse.

The details of how information policy is carried out would be determined at the constitutional convention. The executive would be checked not only by the legislative branch but also by a judicial branch. The judicial branch would be responsible for formulating interpretations of the constitution with regards to an ever-changing environment for information, and for assessing the appropriateness of actions taken by the executive and legislative branches.

The terms “executive,” “legislative” and “judicial” are meant more as placeholders in this initial discussion, not actual concrete descriptions of the institutions to be established. The functioning of these units would be profoundly different from branches of current local and national governments, or even international organizations like the United Nations. If anything, the constitution of information will be a step forward towards a new approach to governance in general.


Vision needed

It would be irresponsible and rash to draft an “off the shelf” constitution of information that could be readily applied around the world to respond to the complex situation of information today. Although I accept that initial proposals for a constitution of information may be dismissed as irrelevant and wrong-headed, I assert that as we enter an unprecedented age of information and most of the assumptions that undergirded our previous governance systems based on physical geography and discrete domestic economies will be overturned, there will be a critical demand for new systems to address this crisis.

This initial foray can help to formulate the problems to be addressed and the format in which to do so in advance.

In order to effectively govern a new space that exists outside of our current governance systems (or in the interstices between systems), we must make new rules that can effectively govern that space and work to defend transparency and accuracy in the perfect storm born of the circulation and alteration of information. If information exists in a transnational or global space and affects people at that scale, then the governing institutions responsible for its regulation need to be transnational or global. If unprecedented changes are required, then so be it.

If all records for hundreds of years exist online, then it will be entirely possible, as suggested in Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, to alter all information in a single moment if there is not a constitution of information. But the solution must involve designing the institutions that will be used to govern information, thus bringing an inspiring vision to what we are doing. We must give a philosophical foundation for the regulation of information and open up new horizons for human society while appealing to our better angels.

Oddly, many assume that the world of policy must consist of turgid and mind-numbing documents in the specialized terminology of economists. But history also has moments such as the drafting of the US Constitution during which a small group of visionary individuals managed create an inspiring new vision of what is possible. That is what we need today with regard to information. To propose such an approach is not a misguided modern version of Neo-Platonism, but a chance to seize the initiative and put forth a vision in the face of ineluctable change, rather than just a response.

“한국, 한국인의재발견” EBS 국민공감콘서트 2016년 12월 15일 (이만열을 중심으로 )

 “한국, 한국인의재발견”

EBS 국민공감콘서트

2016년 12월 15일




‘국민공감콘서트’에 이대훈, 신수지가 출연한다.

15일 오전 0시10분(14일 밤 12시10분) 방송되는 EBS 1TV ‘국민공감콘서트’ 3회는 ‘나는 누구인가?’라는 주제로 진행된다.

이날 방송에는 성균관대학교 유교대학 동양철학과 신정근 교수가 출연해 ‘정체성 찾기’에 대해 강연한다.

신정근 교수는 ‘나는 누구일까?’의 답이 어려운 이유는 정체성의 혼란 때문이라고 짚는다. 한국은 전쟁의 폐허와 독재정권의 암흑시기 속에서도 민주화와 경제성장을 이뤘지만, OECD 국가 중 10년째 자살률 1위 및 전 세대가 고용불안에 떠는 등 불안감에 시달리고 있다.

신정근 교수는 먹고살기 바빴고 살아남기 위해 ‘나’ 자신을 찾지 못했던 사람들이 어떻게 정체성을 찾고 이 어려움을 극복할 수 있을지 동양철학을 바탕으로 해결책을 찾아간다.

패널로는 개그우먼 이희경, 태권도 메달리스트 이대훈, 전 리듬체조선수 신수지, 이병헌 영화감독이 참석한다.

또한 오는 21일 0시10분(20일 밤 12시10분)에는 ‘한국, 한국인의 재발견’이란 주제로 ‘국민공감콘서트’ 5회가 진행된다.


이날 강연자는 예일대에서 중국 고전문학을 전공하고 도쿄대, 하버드대에서 각각 석, 박사 학위를 받은 임마누엘 페스트라이쉬 경희대 부교수다.

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬 교수는 한국에 산지 9년째로, 역사와 전통문화를 바탕으로 한국인만 모르는 대한민국의 가능성에 대한 질문을 던진다. 일제강점기에 겪은 한국의 문화적 단절에 대해 고민하고, 한국을 세계에 알릴 수 있는 비법으로 선비정신을 제시한다.

이날 5회에서도 3회와 마찬가지로 이희경, 이대훈, 신수지, 이병헌이 패널로 참석한다.

‘EBS 국민공감콘서트’는 총 6회 구성으로, 방송인 김현욱의 진행으로 매회 다채로운 주제와 함께할 예정이다.





“The importance of eating local” (JoongAng Daily December 26, 2016)

JoongAng Daily

“The importance of eating local”

December 26, 2016

Emanuel Pastreich



I was invited to a meeting with a certain governor last month at which a group of experts discussed the province’s efforts to develop technology. The group assembled around a vast table spoke at great length about biotechnology and nanotechnology and unveiled their plans to encourage start-up firms.

But in the midst of all that pie-in-the-sky talk, I could not stop looking at the snacks that were offered up for us to eat.

In front of each person at the meeting stood a plastic bowl piled high with chocolates, cookies and candies, all covered in brightly colored plastic wrapping. There was absolutely nothing that I was tempted to eat.

That was not all. Although the entire event was a promotion for the province, there was not a single product among those snacks that was actually produced there.

I have no doubt that if asked, the participants at the meeting would have much preferred a snack made from the fruits or grains of the region, something with some distinctive flavors that would affirm that this province had its own traditions and cuisine. I know that Korea has a wide range of traditional crackers, dried fruits, cakes and nuts that would have been perfect for a snack and that would have also supported the local farmers.

But after some eight years working with local government in Korea I can say with confidence that it is rare that local foods find their way through the barriers of logistics to actually make it to the table for such events. In fact, the food you get in the governor’s office is more likely to be the product of a big food producer rather than a local supplier.

But the problem is more one of what is provided, rather than by whom. I have found, increasingly, that every time I enter a convenience store I am confronted with shelves lined with processed foods: chocolate bars, potato chips, crackers and instant ramen high in sodium and saturated fat. None of these choices offers nutritional value and there are rarely any vegetables or fruits to be found.

Our youth are exposed to processed foods, and even encouraged to eat them, without any awareness of the negative impact they will have on their health. Those products are not food at all, and do not compare with the nutritious foodstuffs produced by local farmers. Many medical experts recommend against such processed foods in light of increasing evidence of linkage of foods high in sugar with diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease. We can already see the results of diets based on high sugar content. According to materials released by the National Health Insurance Service, the number of people under 18 receiving treatment for diabetes has increased by 31 percent over the last decade. According to an study the number of obese Koreans was 4.2 percent of the entire population in 2012, up from 2.5 percent in 2002.

During a recent trip to Japan I was impressed by how much more fresh fruits and vegetables were available at convenience stores — often supplied by local farms. Korea can do better and provide our citizens with truly healthy meals based on Korea’s long tradition of nutritious food. Moreover, requiring that the food available at local convenience stores be produced organically and locally is a good way to assure healthy diets and stimulate the local economy.

What is food? To start with, it is not something you make in a manner that encourages people to buy more of it regardless of its lack of nutritious value. Making sure that food is healthy, and teaching citizens good eating habits, is much more important than building yet another skyscraper or launching the latest smart phone.

The health of our children is as important as anything and we cannot sacrifice it for any short term profit to be derived from encouraging impulsive eating. If anything, we should encourage people to eat slowly and show appreciation for the farmers who produce our food, for the earth that nourishes us, and for the need for a constant harmony between the world of man and of nature.

Although it may offend the sensitivities of some, I think that the government has the right, and the responsibility, to step in and to regulate what food is available to our citizens so as to assure that it is healthy. It is entirely appropriate for the government to set regulations that limit the amount of processed food that is displayed in front of inexperienced young people, and set standards for what kinds of products are available. If it is not food, it should not be getting undue attention.

I hear all the time that food is the most important part of Korean culture, but I fear we are letting that treasure slip away.

“不为“为什么”的冲动消费” (金融博览 2016年 12月 1日)



2016年 12月 1日


秋季开学前,我去了一趟文具 店。在结算台前,我看到一堆 包装花哨的糖果、巧克力等。精明的 生意人一眼就能从中看见所谓营销点子。

文具店里为什么要大张旗鼓出售这些对健康不好的零食呢?糖果与文具没有任何关系,却被摆放在最显眼的位置。糖果既不是来此购买文具的 学生们的真实需求,也没有任何营养价值,但店主人依然期待顾客能够在冲动的支配下购买这些东西。


同样的情形在书店也一样常见。原本可供学生们专心阅读书籍的部分 位置却摆满了布偶、书包、各种电子 产品,不少只是用来玩耍和游戏的。 更奇特的是,一些药店摆满了食物、 洗漱用品以及各种其他商品。大街上 几乎所有餐厅都在招牌上印有美味的 食物照片,这都是为了刺激行人的消 费欲求。我担心的不是这些广告本身,而是背后暗示的大众消费心理与习 惯,即我们接受了这种“新常态(new normal)”。现在的经济并不关注人们真 正的需求和社会福利,一心只想激发人们最原始的欲望,鼓动人们冲动购 物。人们的心思和创造力都放在了如何为自己争取更大的利益上面,而且理所当然地以为那是天经地义的。“新常态”建立在必须以这种方式赚钱的 假设之上,至于人们所购买的商品是否是真实的需要,则不在考虑范围内。

如果将冲动和一时的满足当作经 济的原动力,其结果是危险的。人们的活动除去满足原始的欲望和虚构的 需求之外,将丧失对更大意义的追求。公民将变成无法从自己的行为中找到 任何上层伦理目标的消费者,从而, 他们的国家将失去远大的发展目标。 消费者不会思考未来,对他们虎视眈眈的营业者除了追求利益,对其他事 情全然没有兴趣,丧失了为社会提供 服务的社会责任。

对于经济的这种态度属于一种外 来文化,与中国文化相距甚远。中国的核心价值是忍耐、克制与谦逊,是在节制的服饰和日常生活中表现出的简朴精神。在中国传统社会,即使富裕的人家也过着节制的生活。他们不同于欧洲的富人,不是生活在金碧辉 煌的豪宅之内。


冲动经济的悲剧不仅在于不必要的浪费。问题还在于,人们在生活中失去了询问“为什么”的意识。人们只会盲目跟随别人的行动,变成了单纯的消费者。人们对于因果关系的理 解最终也会崩溃,认为所有事情都只是偶然发生的,认识不到自身行为与发生事件之间存在的联系。

很多年轻人都置身于被迫消费的压力之中,却自以为是自由的、完全自主的,他们其实并不知道自己为什么消费。他们在社会压力或市场营销力量的挤压下做出消费行动,却无法从消费中获得精神上的满足。随着有 意义的朋友与有意义的个人所有物品 逐渐消失,他们在社会中愈发感到孤独。

以冲动为基础的经济内藏着更大 的阴影。冲动经济容易催生文化颓废主义。颓废主义不分保守主义和自由主义,将逐步蔓延到社会各个角落。人们区分是非、构想更好的社会以及 进行道德判断的能力出现了退化,丧失了独立思考、行为自控与应对严重 社会问题的能力。因此,我们将不再 是合格的社会成员。

中国年轻一代接受的教育使他们 认为“冲动的行为值得肯定”,激发消费冲动的行为甚至直接就创造了成功。这样一代人会在理解充满矛盾的 事实(fact)时缺乏必要的耐心和自控 能力,同时也很难具备区分简单虚构 与复杂真理的能力。我们已经置身于 丧失对社会未来的想象以及积极实现 未来目标能力的危险之中,在不必要 的奢侈和致命的被动性的影响下,人 们放大自己的感官抑制自己的思考, 将逐渐丧失理解能力,只会在社会中 随波逐流。

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“THAADの悲劇” (ハフィントンポスト2016年 12日 24日)



2016年 12日 24日


エマニュエル パストリッチ




去る7月8日、韓国国防省と在韓米軍は、'THAAD'(Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile, 戦域高高度防衛ミサイル)の在韓米軍への配備を正式に決定した。私はこのニュースを聞いてとても残念に思った。これまで色々な誤解はあったにせよ、韓米両国は、軍事同盟によって、北朝鮮の軍事的脅威に立ち向かうべく、協調してきた。しかし、今回の決定は、何の科学的な根拠もなく、また、しかるべき論議も行われることなく、電撃的に下されてしまったのである。




大陸間弾道ミサイルの脅威に対処する唯一の方法は、ヨーロッパに安定をもたらしたSALT(Strategic Arms Limitation Talks、戦略武器制限交渉)のような軍備制限条約を結ぶことである。1970年代の初めから冷戦関係にあった東西の両サイドは、お互い一致しない様々な理解関係を三つの協議によって調整した。モスクワとワシントン間での核兵器協議、CSCE(ヨーロッパ安全保障協力会議)での政治・経済的な論議、そして、ヨーロッパでの軍備減縮及び相互軍備減縮協議がそれである。しかし、今日のアメリカは、東北アジアにおける軍事的緊張関係の緩和のために、そのような接近方式は全く考慮していない。


この決定の悲劇はそれだけではない。 実は東北アジアの平和を脅かす一番の脅威はミサイルや核兵器類実態ではなくて緊張した環境である。 アメリカを始めとして、東アジア全域に非核化体制を成立させ、平和を振興したら、武器を使用する危険を減らせるだろう。






“韩政府应出台政策 推广当地健康食品” (中央日报 2016年 12月 23日)


“韩政府应出台政策 推广当地健康食品”

2016年 12月 23

























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“가공식품 대신 향토 음식을 먹자” (중앙일보 2016년 12월 23일)


“가공식품 대신 향토 음식을 먹자”

2016년 12월 23일

임마누엘   페스트라이쉬




지난달 어느 도지사가 주최한 모임에 초대를 받았다. 전문가들이 기술을 발전시키기 위해 애쓰는 도(道)의 노력에 대해 토론하는 자리였다. 그 전문가 그룹은 큰 테이블에 둘러앉아 장시간 바이오•나노 기술에 대해 의견을 나눈 후에 스타트업 기업 활성화를 위한 계획을 발표했다.

‘그림의 떡’ 같은 미래를 현실화하려는 논의를 하는 동안에도 나는 우리에게 제공된 간식거리에서 눈을 뗄 수 없었다.

모든 참석자 앞에 놓인 것은 화려한 색상으로 포장된 초콜릿•쿠키•캔디가 한 무더기 쌓여 있는 플라스틱 그릇이었다. 하지만 내 식욕을 자극하는 간식거리는 하나도 없었다.

그게 다가 아니었다. 토론 행사 전체가 그 도를 홍보하기 위해 마련됐지만 테이블 위에 놓인 먹을거리 중에서 현지에서 생산된 제품은 하나도 없었다.

모임 참가자들에게 의견을 구한다면, 아마 그들은 모두 그 지역에서 생산한 과일이나 곡식으로 만든 간식거리를 훨씬 선호했을 것이 틀림없다고 나는 생각한다. 그 고장에는 고유의 전통과 음식이 있다는 것을 확인해주는 독특한 풍미가 담긴 먹을거리 말이다. 나는 한국이 전통적으로 다양한 종류의 말린 과일, 케이크, 견과를 자랑한다는 것을 알고 있다. 그것들을 내놓았다면, 완벽한 간식일 뿐만 아니라 이를 생산하는 현지 농업인들에게도 도움이 되었을 것이다.

나는 8여 년 전부터 지방정부와 일하고 있다. 그 경험을 통해 자신 있게 말할 수 있는 게 한 가지 있다. 향토 음식이 토론회 같은 행사의 식탁에 오르는 일이 드물다는 점이다. 관례적인 행사 실행 계획의 벽을 넘기가 힘들기 때문이다. 사실 도지사 집무실에서 접하게 되는 음식은 현지가 아니라 대형 음식 제조업자가 생산한 것일 가능성이 크다.

하지만 진짜 문제는 ‘누가 만들었느냐’가 아니라 ‘무엇을 파느냐’다. 내가 편의점에 들어갈 때마다 마주치게 되는 것은 초콜릿바, 감자칩, 크래커, 나트륨과 포화지방이 많이 포함된 컵라면 등이 놓인 가공식품 진열대다. 진열대 위에 있는 제품들은 그 어떤 것을 집어도 영양가치가 없는 것들이다. 채소나 과일은 찾기 힘들다. 이런 판매 추세는 점점 더 강화되고 있다.

우리 사회의 소년과 청년은 가공식품에 노출돼 있다. 그들은 심지어 가공식품을 소비하도록 부추김을 당하고 있다. 하지만 그들은 가공식품이 그들의 건강에 미칠 수 있는 부정적인 영향을 거의 인지하지 못하고 있다. 이 제품들은 음식이라고도 할 수 없다. 각 지방 농업인들이 생산하는 영양가 높은 먹을거리와는 비교조차 할 수 없다.

많은 의학 전문가가 가공식품을 섭취하지 말라고 권장한다. 설탕이 많이 포함된 음식과 당뇨병 같은 질병, 심지어는 알츠하이머병 사이의 연관성이 점차 입증되고 있기 때문이다. 우리는 이미 고당분 음식 섭취가 낳은 결과를 목격하고 있다. 국민건강보험공단이 발표한 자료에 따르면 18세 이하 사람들 중에서 당뇨병 치료를 받는 비율이 지난 10년 동안 31% 증가했다. 한 연구에 따르면 2012년 한국의 비만 인구는 전체 인구의 4.2%였다. 2002년 2.5%에서 급상승했다.


최근 일본을 방문했을 때 편의점에 신선한 과일과 야채가 한국보다 훨씬 많이 눈에 띄는 것을 보고 깊은 인상을 받았다. 또한 현지 농장에서 생산된 것들이 많이 포함됐다. 한국인들은 더 잘할 수 있다. 한국의 오랜 고영양(高營養) 식품 전통을 바탕으로 우리 시민들에게 진정으로 몸에 좋은 식사를 제공할 수 있다. 현지 유기농 제품을 편의점에서 팔도록 의무화한다면 건강한 식생활뿐만 아니라 지역 경제 활성화에도 도움이 될 것이다.

어떤 식품이어야 하는가. 우선 영양가 부족에도 불구하고 구매를 부추기는 식품이 아니어야 한다. 몸에 좋은 식품이 생산되도록 만들고 시민에게 좋은 음식 섭취 습관을 가르치는 것은 고층빌딩을 또 건설하는 것이나 최신형 스마트폰을 출시하는 것보다 훨씬 중요하다.

그 무엇보다 소중한 우리 자녀들의 건강을 희생시키며 충동적인 식습관 유도로 단기적인 이익을 얻으려고 하면 안 된다. 우리는 음식을 천천히 먹고, 식품을 생산하는 농업인들과 대지(大地)에 감사하는 마음을 갖도록 권장해야 한다. 또한 인간 세상과 자연 사이의 항구적인 조화의 필요성을 강조해야 한다.

이렇게 말하면 일부 예민한 사람들이 기분 상할지 모르지만, 나는 정부가 건강한 음식을 시민에게 제공할 권리와 의무가 있다고 생각한다. 정부가 경험이 부족한 젊은이들 앞에 진열된 가공식품의 양을 제한하는 규정을 만들고 판매 식품의 표준을 마련하는 것은 전적으로 적절하다. 먹을거리와 관련된 것이야말로 정부가 더 큰 관심을 기울여야 한다.

‘밥이 보약’ ‘식약동원(食藥同源)’ 등 음식이 한국 문화에서 가장 중요한 부분이라는 말을 나는 항상 듣고 있다. 하지만 우리가 한국 음식이라는 보물이 사라지도록 방치하고 있는 것은 아닌지 두렵기만 하다.


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Future Heritage Site

I came across this “Seoul Future Heritage” plaque in one of my favorite neighborhoods, Uljiro sam-ga, in Seoul. The plaque is mysterious. It seems to suggest that the building will be a heritage site at some point in the future. Not entirely clear to me.


Nogara Alley in Urjiro samga

Nogara Alley in Urjiro samga

“韩国媒体应打破常规” (中央日报 2016.12.05)









韩国媒体没能预测到特朗普的胜利一事,将作为“残酷的情报失败”(intelligence failure)被人们所铭记。这件事令原本威风凛凛的媒体“殿堂”显得极为寒酸。不要对我说美国媒体也预测错误。美国不严谨的新闻工作是美国的问题。美国主要媒体一直预测希拉里会胜利,并写了很多新闻报道。甚至为了让她的胜利更具可信度,不公布有意投票给希拉里的人数比例,而是使用了“希拉里胜率为92%”的专业性的措辞。








报纸应以追求真理为理想,是为了一般读者在作出“以信息为基础的决定(informed decision)”中提供所需的实用信息。在民主主义体制内,如果想要培养可以以信息为基础做出决定的有素养的民众,媒体的作用在国家层面上都非常重要。对于综合问题,记者在向读者提供有创意的解决方案上应该带有一种沉重的责任感。




History in Gs

It is an interesting how these international meetings of powerful nations have grown as a social phenomenon. Are they nearing the end of their natural development.


G 5       1974
G 6       1975
G 7       1976
G 8      1997
G 20    1999
G 2      2005
G 0      2017