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Who Owns The Future? [Kindle Edition]

Jaron Lanier
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Book Description

Who Owns The Future? is the new masterwork from the prophet of the digital age, Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not A Gadget.

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. He shows us why the digital revolution means more corporations making money and avoiding risk by hiding value off their books, which means more financial risk for the rest of us. From the inner workings of the 'sirenic servers' at the heart of the new power system, to an exploration of the meaning of mass unemployment events, the misuse of big data, and the deep and increasing erasure of human endeavour, Lanier explores the effects of this situation on democracy and individuals, and proposes a more human, humane reality, where risk and reward is shared equally, and the digital revolution creates opportunity for all.

Praise for You Are Not a Gadget:

'Fabulous - I couldn't put it down and shouted out Yes! Yes! on many pages ... a landmark book that will have people talking and arguing for years into the future' Lee Smolin

'A provocative and sure-to-be-controversial book . . . Lucid, powerful and persuasive' The New York Times

'Short and frightening ... from a position of real knowledge and insight' Zadie Smith

Jaron Lanier is a philosopher and computer scientist who has spent his career pushing the transformative power of modern technology to its limits. From coining the term 'Virtual Reality' to developing cutting-edge medical imaging and surgical techniques, Lanier is one of the premier designers and engineers at work today, and is linked with UC Berkeley and Microsoft. A musician with a collection of over 700 instruments, he has been recognised by Encyclopedia Britannica (but certainly not Wikipedia) as one of history's 300 or so greatest inventors and named one of the top one hundred public intellectuals in the world by Prospect and Foreign Policy. His first book, You Are Not A Gadget, was hailed as a 'poetic and prophetic' defence of the human in an age of machines.

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Product Description


Daringly original ... sharp, accessible ... terrifically exciting (The New York Times)

About the Author

Jaron Lanier is a philosopher and computer scientist who has spent his career pushing the transformative power of modern technology to its limits. He is one of the premier designers and engineers at work today, and has been named one of the top one hundred public intellectuals in the world by Prospect and Foreign Policy. His previous book is You Are Not A Gadget.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1197 KB
  • Print Length: 376 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1451654960
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 Mar. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846145228
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846145223
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #52,066 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frightening and fascinating 1 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the best book i have ever read about the social and economic effects of the internet, both now and in the immediate future. These include the concentration of money and power in the hands of small elites; the impoverishment of most of the population, and the destruction of opportunities for paid employment. Lanier believes these problems can be solved. It is not the technology as such that is at fault, but the way it is being used. However, overcoming the vested interests of those making a fortune from the present system may prove more difficult than he imagines. This book is an essential warning about the path we are currently following.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dystopia 2.1? 28 Jun. 2014
Back in the 1990's, my friends and I would listen to Terence McKenna's spellbinding talks on the subject of the then embryonic information super highway. McKenna was convinced of the utopian possibilities of the internet. Cultural free for alls and other fun ontology's promised by the internet would free our minds from our Gnostic drudgery, awaken the collective unconscious, demolish the cultural pillars of Christian civilisation and kick the doors off heavens hinges; phew!. This brave new world was going to herald the cultural singularity and the new dawn; and finally, we were all to transcend to silicon light, (You had to be there I guess).

According to McKenna and indeed Jaron Lanier -and most silicon entrepreneurs at the time- the internet will allow us all an existence in the radiant afterglow of a post-western civilisation. Capitalist values will be swept away, along with adverts and 'male dominator' politics, "We'll go there and we'll leave the Earth and dance forever in the astral imagination" (McKenna)!

Jaron Lanier now admits this was foolish and he's trying to warn us all before 'lock in' will halt our humanness and turn us all into technological serfs.

Lanier is arguing that if we fast forward 20 odd years from now, then capitalism is indeed wobbling at the foundations (but not at the top you see). This means that we serfs are suffering down bellow; and it gets worse. While we work for nothing, like when we write unpaid reviews on Amazon or 'help' Wikipedia, the 'lords of the clouds' have monopolised the creative surplus and are squeezing the middle class until the pips squeak!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Information Revolution 1 July 2013
By Mr. D. J. Brindle VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In this book, writing about the all encompassing digital future that modern society is inexorably edging toward, Lanier is essentially writing about how the fundamental way society works could change.

The digital revolution (unlike other historical revolutions in production) follows a winner-takes-all-model that relentlessly concentrates wealth and challenges the livelihood of an ever increasing number. Progress should reward more people, not fewer. Lanier notes that in a socially responsible society the economic benefits would be shared by the bulk of the populace with smaller numbers of people at one end getting by on very little and small numbers at the other end raking in the billions (meaning most of us would live in relative comfort and security somewhere in the middle). The digital revolution is increasing wealth and freedom for only a tiny fraction of the population: The corporations with the biggest computers, gathering data for free from everyone else. One illuminating statistic to illustrate this is to compare Google with General Motors. Google is worth $300 billion on the stock market, almost seven times that of GM. But Google only employs 53,000 people compared to the 202,000 of a flagging GM.

Lanier writes passionately in this book, involving the reader by proposing a way of dealing with this unsustainable scenario.

His main idea is to recognise a person's information as private property. So any large corporation that harvests anything from your social networking, purchasing or even phone records would have to pay you for the privilege. But he doesn't go into details of how you would even to begin to set up such a system.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Provocative warning of the information future 27 Jun. 2013
By Bernardette Lugner TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In this fascinating and provocative book, Lanier makes the point that the American economy (he does not consider anyone else's) has been changed by the rise of "siren servers" -- like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and financial systems. These seductive and apparently free services take information about us and sell it. They replace physical businesses with information services (think of e-books, or streamed music and video). In the process, money is accumulated in huge amounts by a very few companies and the people at the top of them, while the middle classes, people who work for a living, are thrown out of work and impoverished. We see how the business practices that protected the livelihoods of the middle classes have been eroded.

All this is driven from California, says Lanier, by graduates of a few elite universities and residents of San Francisco. The rest of us have been degraded into poor suckers. You will have to decide whether his lessons apply to our own economy; it seems to me that, mostly, they do.

It is happening because of advances in network technologies, social engineering, and the seductive appearance of "stuff" being free. Do not expect any logical progression of ideas in this book. Lanier makes his point by staccato sentences which get very tiring to read in their unvarying rhythm and assertiveness. I took quite a number of sessions to get through the book. By making the same point again and again in different ways, we are eventually to be persuaded. Supporting evidence is a bit thin -- mostly web links and news items -- and some American anecdotal stories. It looks as though Lanier sees himself as a technological prophet, and we had all better listen, or else.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Arrived promptly - as described
Published 24 days ago by C. E. Grove
5.0 out of 5 stars Laniers second outstanding work.
Fantastic thoughts from a computer scientist who seems to me to be a very important philosopher. His views are problematic because Lanier has worked with the companies he needs to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by D J Teader
5.0 out of 5 stars Trusted professional
Thank you for this book dear Jaron Lanier. By the way, I found book watching youtube some show where you said about this book so I bought it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by SPSX
1.0 out of 5 stars Really!?!
Is this really a book about the future with no Kindle version?!?!
Published 3 months ago by Solomon Folks
5.0 out of 5 stars As with so many of Amazon's attempts at producing a ...
As with so many of Amazon's attempts at producing a decent ebook this volume is a 5 star for content (dazzling ideas from Jaron Lanier) but ZERO STAR for production (an insult to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by DJL
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY IT!!
Awesome book, explains every concept in detail, gives real life examples which can be understood very easy.
Published 6 months ago by Georgian
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Haven't read, but seems to be more than mind blowing.
Published 8 months ago by Jan Valecka
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Insightful. Highly recommended
Published 9 months ago by Rey Bowen
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book on topical issues, weakened by excessive US focus.
This is a very interesting book from Lanier and well worth reading.

He gives a very useful account of what is going on in "public" big data, search and social... Read more
Published 12 months ago by JohnT
5.0 out of 5 stars Human extinction in the Internet age
In this astounding book, Jaron Lanier's view of how technological development has altered our prospects and well-being will resonate with readers in the UK who - despite their... Read more
Published 15 months ago by alison
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