“Who Owns The Future?” by Jaron Lanier

September 16, 2014

So, I tried to read Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations”. I got to page 160 and then gave up. I didn’t understand most of it, and what little I did understand I disagreed with.

A relief then, to turn to a different book; “Who Owns The Future” by Jaron Lanier.

I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in the current state of tech and by extension, the state of the world. It’s wise, humane, intelligent, compassionate and comprehensible.

Lanier’s central point is simple: instead of giving away our data for free to others so they can amass huge concentrations of wealth and power, why don’t they pay us for our data instead?

But the real joy of this book is the way Lanier nails every bad idea and pernicious belief coming out of Silicon Valley. Lanier is a computer scientist and  a techno optimist. He’s not an outsider just being contrary for the sake of it. It’s such a relief to hear someone on the inside critique these barmy ideas.

There are a thousand great quotes in “Who Owns The Future”, here’s just one:

There’s a romance in that future, especially for hackers… it comes up in science fiction constantly: the hacker as hero, outwitting the villain’s computer security. But what a crummy world that would be, where screwing up something online is the last chance at being human and free. A good world is where there’s meaning outside of sabotage.

Buy it and read it!

who owns the future

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