Q&Q: Jaron Lanier

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Q&Q: Jaron Lanier

Let’s revive the Q&Q for this last phase of the class (largely on Jaron Lanier’s work). Reply to this post with questions, quotations, criticisms, etc.


  1. “If you are a technology creator, please consider this: If you need to rely on dignity destruction as a crutch in order to demonstrate a new efficiency through digital networking, it only means you’re not good at the technology. You are cheating. Really efficient technological designs should improve both service and dignity for people at the same time.”

    I suspect the bright minds in the technology sectors know this, and the problem, as Lanier noted, is not a technical one but at the core of our era’s economic and social challenges. What is the cost (as in real money) of making good technology? Is there enough profit to be made? We all know, inevitably, where the answers lie within the power and class structure of capitalism. How can we battle the rising tide of economic and social inequality if we as a society continue to value individual fortune over collective wealth?

  2. From Eric:

    “The World of Technology has become seduced, corrupted by democracy and society, essentially outsourced to private companies that are in charge of organizing human affairs.”

    This is indeed true, to some extent. People like Mark Zukerburg have become some of the richest and most powerful in the world, because he saw potential in an idea and took a form of “new media” to “new heights”. The richest will always be rich. The corrupt will always be corrupt, even techies in suits. There are corrupt governments and systems in place. There have been corrupt monarchs. It’s called Capitalism, Jaron’s argument is just history repeating itself.

    The artists, creatives and unknown techies will continue to innovate and explore, particuly with technology. But it’s our choice as these roles listed, and with informed knowledge if we want to be monopolized, join the big ranks and monopolize others or make our own way to sustain our careers and give back to society.

  3. The logic of Micro-payments-

    I loved hearing his expression and desire for micro-payments attached to almost every industry. 3d printing, music, art, you name it, the idea of creators getting paid for their creations and users earning and spending constantly will develop a very efficient market and economies. This idea makes perfect sense to me, to replicate Amazon, Rhapsody and others on a micro level, and put the wealth into individuals instead of corporations you will create a better distribution of wealth and a happier and better flowing economy. I wonder how sustainable something like this would be, and how truly effective it would be?

  4. “Very few people are ready to live as global citizens, free of national association… The best strategy might be for each individual to belong to enough varied clans that it becomes too confusing to form coherent groups in opposition to one another. ”

    I would love to hear specific examples of these “varied clans” that Lanier talks about. Is this kind of digital network realistic when individuals will form ties with different things? No matter how many bonds they make, they are bound to have certain dislikes towards certain groups. Rather than trying to feel a sense of community with a lot of identities, I almost feel like it makes more sense to learn to respect identities that are different from your own to avoid falling into sudden pack violence.

  5. “The concept of privacy is multifaceted, widely varying, and always hard to define, and yet the code which creates or destroys privacy is tediously –
    banally – concrete and pervasive.”

    Is it possible to code for ambiguity? If computers are controlled by YES and NO, by THIS and THAT, how can we “code” (literally?) for questions of morality or ethics? (I don’t mean to suggest that we’ve got it all figured out in the analog world; that’s clearly far from the case!)

  6. In the video when he talks about how he doesn’t hate auto translation. It’s great and can be helpful but the credit to people who did the work isn’t acknowledge thus he’s having a problem with that. They still existent and they haven’t been obsoleted. And that they should get micro payments. Even though this is just a narrow topic about this I was questioning how would they implement this creditability to it? When he was talking about the bell curve I can understand where the benefits are coming from about stability and being democratic but how will that person have a fall for another one to rise?

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