Who Owns the Future?

Who Owns the Future?

Jaron Lanier’s book You Are Not a Gadget examined some of the issues that have arisen in individuals’ lives now that web culture has become so pervasive. It’s a wonderful book that looks at how our digital lives are designed affects society in ways both good and bad. I highly recommend it. Lanier’s new book expands upon the theme: Who Owns the Future? Lanier is not anti-technolgy; he simply believes that we must look at how our digital worlds are designed, taking greater care in creating environments that are truly beneficial to our lives. I’m looking forward to reading it (out now in the UK; available in the United States in May). A brief description from the publisher:

“In the past, a revolution in production, such as the industrial revolution, generally increased the wealth and freedom of people. The digital revolution we are living through is different. Instead of leaving a greater number of us in excellent financial health, the effect of digital technologies – and the companies behind them – is to concentrate wealth, reduce growth, and challenge the livelihoods of an ever-increasing number of people. As the protections of the middle class disappear, washed away by crises in capitalism, what is being left in their place? And what else could replace them?

“Why is this happening, and what might we do about it? In Who Owns the Future? Jaron Lanier shows how the new power paradigm operates, how it is conceived and controlled, and why it is leading to a collapse in living standards. Arguing that the ‘information economy’ ruins markets, he reminds us that markets should reward more people, not fewer.”

The Spectator has published an interview with the author: “What will the future economy look like if technology keeps advancing the way it does and we do nothing?

“Well, identify almost any human role in our current society, and imagine that being aggregated into a software scheme in the future where the people don’t get directly paid anymore. We can already say that there are virtual editors of newspapers. In the future nearly every existing job will be gradually weakened because of cloud software. The only one left standing at some future date is the owner of the largest computer on the network. Whoever has the biggest computer wins in our current system.”