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posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the Applied-truthiness dept.
An anonymous coward writes:

"Jaron Lanier talks about his latest book, Who Owns the Future? on the Colbert Report (US TV, Comedy Central channel). Should be viewable on the web shortly at

I met Jaron when he worked for Atari in the early 1980s. I remember him as a brilliant and delightful guy, but perhaps a little (or a lot) too full of himself? He does seem to have been successful as a tech pundit..."

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  • (Score: 2, Informative) by takyon on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:20PM

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:20PM (#11435) Journal

    I remember seeing him on the PBS News Hour on Jan 2nd []. I think he made a complete fool of himself (you may believe otherwise):

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Jaron, you outline some of this in your book about who owns the future. What are these destabilizing forces that technology brings with it?

    JARON LANIER: Well, you know, you can go to two extremes. You can either say let's make work for everybody, like a Maoist regime. And I think we all know that that is a road to ruin. No one advocates that.

    But we're doing something in a way that is stupid in the other direction, where we're pretending that people aren't contributing economically, when they are. We're pretending that just making things cheaper is enough to create economic viability. And you can't do that.

    I mean, you have to - people have to be valued for what they actually do. The economy has to be honest. And so what I am concerned about is that by getting everybody to input all their productivity for free to these Silicon Valley companies, including the one that funds my lab, by the way, so I'm a beneficiary of what I'm criticizing - but in order to pretend that all this stuff, you know, it comes in for free, and what we give people in exchange is access to services, we're taking them out of the economic cycle.

    We're putting them into an informal economy, which is an unbalanced way to grow a society. And that's also a road to ruin. I'm not asking for artificial make-work projects. I'm asking for honesty, where we acknowledge when people generate value, and make them first-class economic citizens.

    And then I think that all of these amazing schemes of automation, the self-driving cars, the 3-D printers, these will lead to a world of happy, meaningful lives, as well as great economic growth. You know, that's the ticket, is honesty.

    ANDREW MCAFEE: Yes, I have some trouble putting those ideas into practice.

    So, for example, Jaron, would you charge my brother to upload pictures of his daughters to Facebook, or would you charge me to look at my nieces?

    JARON LANIER: You know, given what I have been seeing on Facebook lately, I think anything that sort of decreases people's tendency to upload everything might actually be a good thing. So I think we should economically incentivize less uploading. So I would say let's charge you both. How about that?

    ANDREW MCAFEE: I think that is absolutely a terrible idea. It takes us in exactly the opposite direction that we want from our economic engine.

    Facebook is doing this amazing feat where they are delivering a service that is valued by on the order of a billion people around the world. And they're not charging them hard, cold cash for using that service, and yet they're a very profitable company. Now, it's not a deep secret how they do that. It's called advertising.

    And I don't think many of Facebook's users are unaware of how that works, just like I wasn't unaware when I sat around as a kid and watched network television about what was funding that business model. So I don't think there's anything either opaque or deeply sinister about what is going on. These are just some nice economic models whereby these technology companies can put things in front of us that we value, that we use, and charge us no money for them. I don't see that as bad news.

    Your personal data is worth a measly eight bucks a month []

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