Book Review: Who Owns the Future
Author: Jaron Lanier
Most of us live at least part of our lives online. Who Owns the Future by Jaron Lanier, computer scientist, musician and a pioneer in the world of digital media, offers a chilling look at what impact the world of network technology has had on our culture and economy. For anybody who has come to rely on that technology, the book offers some sobering food for thought.
Lanier blames the recent economic woes of the middle class, including the current recession, on rapidly evolving technology, particularly the rise of digital networks and the Internet. According to Lanier’s unconventional views, the Internet actually destroys more jobs than it creates. Whether or not one agrees with his premise, his ideas make for a fascinating read.
Lanier asserts that power and wealth in the digital age have come under the control of “Siren Servers” – cloud service behemoths like Facebook, Google, government agencies and many others that collect and use our freely provided data to build a huge economic advantage over their competitors. Lanier bemoans the fact that our data is provided for free and that entire industries are going down because of digitalization. In Lanier’s view, the vision of free information has failed and is wrongheaded to begin with.
But Lanier does not only cast blame for our current economic problems. He outlines an ambitious, if not realistic plan, to reform the way we use the Internet. Lanier wants the average Internet user to cash in on the data they provide. His proposals include monetizing the exchange of information, creating a two way network connection where the user gets paid for the data he provides. Lanier hopes that some of his solutions could rebuild a failing middle class, while also painting a dark vision of what will happen if the Internet continues exactly as it is now.
Of course, the question of Who Owns the Future cannot be answered, but Lanier offers anyone that’s concerned about tomorrow a chance to stop and think about what we are doing today and what impact our current choices will have on the future.
About Unity One Credit Union
Established in 1927, Unity One Credit Union is the oldest credit union in Texas. A member-driven and not-for-profit cooperative, Unity One CU served the employees and families of the BNSF Railway for 70 years. However, after transferring its corporate headquarters to Fort Worth in 1998, the credit union expanded its field of membership to include other non-railroad companies, organizations and individuals.
Today, anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Fort Worth, Blue Mound, Saginaw, Haslet, Keller, Colleyville, Bedford, North Richland Hills, Southlake, St. Paul, MN and Kansas City, KS may apply for membership. Unity One CU has nine branches to serve over 27,000 members nationwide. For more information about Unity One Credit Union, visit www.unityone.org. Think outside the bank.™