Berkeley Arts & Letters: JARON LANIER / You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto
Jaron Lanier -- the 80s Silicon Valley visionary who coined the term virtual reality -- was among the first to predict the revolutionary changes the internet would bring to the worlds commerce and culture. Now, over two decades since the Web was created, Lanier offers a provocative and cautionary look at the way it is transforming our lives in YOU ARE NOT A GADGET.
The design and functions of the Web are now so familiar; its hard to recall that it grew out of programming decisions made decades ago. In this fascinating look at digital culture, Lanier explains the ways in which those early crucial choices (such as making a users presence on the Web anonymous) have had enormous -- and often unintended -- consequences.
Lanier discusses the technical and cultural problems that can grow out of poorly considered digital design, and cautions against the current Web 2.0 fad --exemplified by sites like Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter -- which elevates the wisdom of the hive mind over the intelligence and judgment of individuals.
Lanier also examines:
How 1960s anti-government paranoia influenced the design of the online world
How the destruction of the artistic middle class through file sharing is inseparable from the destruction of the middle class in general
How a new kind of religion, based on a vision of digital transcendence, motivates some of the most influential technologists
How a new take on humanism can lead to better technology by avoiding destructive illusions
How the complicated and opaque computer algorithms that have been fetishized by new technologists contributed to the financial collapse
Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and writer. His current appointments include Scholar at Large for Live Labs, Microsoft Corporation, and Interdisciplinary Scholar-in-Residence at UC Berkeleys Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and of the Watson Award from Carnegie Mellon University.
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