Have you ever had an online relationship through chatspin chatroulette?
No, I've never had an online relationship through chatspin chatroulette. I don't have a chatspin chat like they have. I just think it is such an illusion of security, because if I'm chatting to somebody on Skype, I know they are both online and we are not, and if they die, I know they are both online and we are not either. And if one of us loses all connectivity, we still know where the other is. So it's a very difficult way to have an online relationship, and I think that it is very difficult for millions of people. And so I just think that chatspin is a really bad name for something that is really really really very important.
So I just want to come back to something that came up earlier, about the limits on free speech. And I think, again, about the limits on the expectations that we as people can have. I'm sympathetic to the view that, you know, we can only have this many absurd and outrageous ideas before something has an impact, and so I understand why people would be scared of ideas that are unpopular. But the limits we place on each other's ideas, I think, are extremely important. I just don't think we should be allowing ideas to come to be incompatible with each other. And I think that any serious attempt at a democratic society has to ensure that there is real and meaningful disagreement about all ideas so that we can have conversations and try to reach compromises.
And so my concern is not with the dangers of ideas that are incompatible, because that would be like banning the absurd and outrageous from the marketplace of ideas. The danger is with the fear people might abandon any attempt at a genuine dialogue, because they are just not worth the effort anymore. The danger to our society is not just an illusion of security, because an illusion of security is dangerous when it comes to serious violence. The danger is dangerous when it comes to serious disagreement about important policy issues. And so what I want to say is, enjoy the marketplace of ideas; have a real dialogue; build bridges; have civil society involved; let people trade ideas; but avoid the single worst offender policy.
Chris Anderson: That was fascinating. But how do you reconcile this belief that we have that we live in a peaceful world and the fact that, in fact, we live in a violent world?
Alain De Botton: Well, I think the danger with the market is that you get circularising. You end up defining the world in terms of what you like, and if you don't like it, you can go somewhere else and find another really good product. So I think the danger with markets is that the market is ultimately a defensive structure, because you're essentially buying and selling ideas. And if an idea seems unwise or unsafe to you, you can go somewhere else and find another really good idea