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.