Friday, May 17, 2013

The Internet is Destroying the Middle Class

That's the premise of tech guru Jaron Lanier's chilling new book on what the Internet is doing to us. In Who Owns the Future, he warns...
"Making information free is survivable so long as only limited numbers of people are disenfranchised. As much as it pains me to say so, we can survive if we only destroy the middle classes of musicians, journalists, and photographers. What is not survivable is the additional destruction of the middle classes in transportation, manufacturing, energy, office work, education, and health care. And all that destruction will come surely enough if the dominant idea of an information economy isn't improved."
Big data (which the Internet collects and digital networks mine and sell at great profit) is nothing more than people, says Lanier--millions and billions of people revealing (for free!) their wants, needs, insights, and experiences whenever they visit a web site, post on Facebook, click on a link, walk in a store, or drive down a street. He thinks big data companies should pay people for these contributions. Digital networks must become two-way streets. If they don't, says Lanier, the Internet will destroy the middle class.

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