Synopses & Reviews
A scientist well known for his virtual reality research, Jaron Lanier is one of the most influential people of these times. In his new book, he peers into the ways network technologies are concentrating wealth while reducing overall growth, threatening the middle class, and therefore our democracy.
Why didn’t the rise of network technologies bring great wealth to the world in the last decade? We should be experiencing great financial health because of the efficiencies of digital technologies, but instead the information economy — as it is falsely construed — is merely centralizing wealth while wealth stagnates overall.
Jaron Lanier, author of the highly acclaimed You Are Not a Gadget, presents paths to getting us back on track in his new book, The Fate of Power and the Future of Dignity. We have seen abundant technological advances — cars can already drive themselves, 3D printers spit out products without the need of factories or workers — but with all these developments, huge waves of permanent unemployment could become widespread. Network technology is being used to create private spying services to fuel schemes that appear to be risk free, even though the risks fall on ordinary people. The result is a gradual weakening of the middle class. In order to avoid the collapse of the middle class, Lanier advocates revolutionary concepts, such as monetizing data now treated as being cost free, an idea that just might save our economy.
These are scary times, but The Fate of Power and the Future of Dignity describes the digital side of the project of saving the middle class, providing a ray of hope for everyone.
"Lucid, powerful and persuasive....Necessary reading for anyone interested in how the Web and the software we use every day are reshaping culture and the marketplace." Michiko Kakutani
"Everyone complains about the Internet, but no one does anything about it... except for Jaron Lanier." Neal Stephenson, bestselling author of Reamde and Cryptonomicon
"Who Owns the Future? explains what’s wrong with our digital economy, and tells us how to fix it. Listen up!” George Dyson, bestselling author of Turing's Cathedral
“This book is rare. It looks at technology with an insider’s knowledge, wisdom, and deep caring about human beings. It’s badly needed.” W. Brian Arthur, economist and author of The Nature of Technology
"Who Owns the Future? is a deeply original and sometimes startling read. Lanier does not simply question the dominant narrative of our times, but picks it up by the neck and shakes it. A refreshing and important book that will make you see the world differently." Tim Wu, author of The Master Switch
“Lanier has a poet’s sensibility and his book reads like a hallucinogenic reverie, full of entertaining haiku-like observations and digressions.” Financial Times
"One of the triumphs of Lanier's intelligent and subtle book is its inspiring portrait of the kind of people that a democratic information economy would produce. His vision implies that if we are allowed to lead absorbing, properly remunerated lives, we will likewise outgrow our addiction to consumerism and technology." The Guardian
"Lanier has a mind as boundless as the internet....[He is] the David Foster Wallace of tech." London Evening Standard
The Dazzling New Masterwork from the Prophet of Silicon Valley
Jaron Lanier is the bestselling author of You Are Not a Gadget, the father of virtual reality, and one of the most influential thinkers of our time. For decades, Lanier has drawn on his expertise and experience as a computer scientist, musician, and digital media pioneer to predict the revolutionary ways in which technology is transforming our culture.
Who Owns the Future? is a visionary reckoning with the effects network technologies have had on our economy. Lanier asserts that the rise of digital networks led our economy into recession and decimated the middle class. Now, as technology flattens more and more industries — from media to medicine to manufacturing — we are facing even greater challenges to employment and personal wealth.
But there is an alternative to allowing technology to own our future. In this ambitious and deeply humane book, Lanier charts the path toward a new information economy that will stabilize the middle class and allow it to grow. It is time for ordinary people to be rewarded for what they do and share on the web.
Insightful, original, and provocative, Who Owns the Future? is necessary reading for everyone who lives a part of their lives online.
About the Author
Jaron Lanier is a scientist and musician best known for his work in Virtual Reality research, a term he coined and popularized. He lives in Berkeley, California.