Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Information Revolution, 1 July 2013
This review is from: Who Owns The Future? (Hardcover)
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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. The author freely admits he hasn't thought it all through which goes some way to explain the somewhat rambling approach I found in this book. It is an occasionally dense read, but always fascinating and the author's credibility in the industry is of the highest grade.

Who Owns The Future is certainly worth a read for anybody with even the faintest interest in the unyielding digitisation of the way we live. Just be prepared to concentrate hard on the more dense parts of the book.
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