The internet – yes, the internet – is believed to be in the running for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
The Nobel Committee only publicises the number of people and organisations on its shortlist – 237 this year, since you’re asking – but the judges are allowed to talk freely, and some of them do.
The nomination follows a campaign by the Italian edition of Wired magazine.
According to Alfred Nobel’s will, the Peace Prize is to go to whoever “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.
Your first thought might be that it’s not very nice to think that a bunch of computers have shown more altruism and wisdom than any human being on the planet.
But Riccardo Luna, Wired Italy‘s editor in chief, says that’s missing the point. Quoting Tim Berners Lee (and who could know better?) he says: “Internet is not a network of computers anymore, but a network of people.”
Luna adds: “It is the greatest social interface humanity has ever had. It is a weapon of mass construction. As we have put out in the official manifesto of the campaign, ‘digital culture is promoting a new kind of society through communication and education’. And communication and education are the roots of a peaceful world.”
If the internet wins, it will join luminaries such as Barack Obama, the United nations together with Kofi Annan and Mother Theresa.
The announcement of the winner will be made on October 8, and the prize money is likely to be the same as last year, $1.4 million. It’s not entirely clear who would accept the prize if the internet won, where the money would go, or who would get to wear the shiny medal.