Fixing the Digital Economy by Jaron Lanier | The New York Times

Insightful commentary in the New York Times from Technologist, Inventor, Author Jaron Lanier. Both of Jaron Lanier’s books are recommended on the Trichordist Bookshelf.

TWO big trends in the world appear to contradict each other.

On the one hand, computer networks are said to be disrupting centralized power of all kinds and giving it to the individual. Customers can bring corporations to their knees by tweeting complaints. A tiny organization like WikiLeaks can alarm the great powers with nothing but encryption and net access. Young Egyptians can organize a nearly instant revolution with their mobile phones and the Internet.

But then there’s the other trend. Inequality is soaring in rich countries around the world, not just the United States. Money from the top 1 percent has flooded our politics. The job market in America has been hollowed out; unpaid internships are common and “entry-level” jobs seem to last a lifetime, while technical and management posts become ever more lucrative. The individual appears to be powerless in the face of tough prospects.


2 thoughts on “Fixing the Digital Economy by Jaron Lanier | The New York Times

  1. I just finished Lanier’s new book, “Who Owns The Future” and I found parts insightful and others perhaps not so much – and troubling. What I found troubling is that he appears to have given up any hope of a real solution to the problem of piracy and that he seems to be favoring a system where everybody would get “micropayments” for “contributing their data”. He also appears to have given up any hope of artists maintaining control of their own work.

    What I found insightful was the dark picture he paints of “Siren Servers” gaining increasingly greater control of human affairs and the economy. Unfortunately the solutions he offers for this problem are, to me, unconvincing, either due to logistical difficulties or because they simply run counter to basic human nature and the nature of modern corporations. I am unable to put any serious faith in his utopian ideas for a more humanistic internet. And I certainly don’t want my work to be made available for use by any other entity in the world without my permission. Examples that come to mind are The Republican Party attempting to use Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” and other works by artists opposed to their platform as campaign anthems. Under Lanier’s system artists would be unable to prevent this.

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