Okay…so Joran doesn’t exactly have the slick look of the other internet guru’s. When Tom Beebe (Thanks Tom) sent me an article about this guy last week, I must admit, besides being upset about the “cashless’ society that the internet is taking us, I had not thought much about the other side— but I am now.
So Nobody Asks: Is there a downside to the internet?
Men love to invent…and thank God. For the short time they have been here, they went from clubbing each other with clubs, to threatening each other with the atomic bomb proving that many inventions have a double edge sword. One’s man’s ceiling is another man’s floor, and even Paul Simon would admit that he’d rather be a hammer than a nail.
While the sheer genius of the atomic bomb can be marveled at…the world is now in continuous fear of the next ‘nuclear’ attack, and some of us wish that it had never been invented..and did they REALLY think the future consequences of it through?
And so it is with the new digital technology–like the atomic bomb it is having a downside effect. With all the wonderment that has come with the ease of home computers, there is a man who is pointing out, that it could be the destruction of us all.
And that’s where Jaron Lanier comes in. Jaron was a Silicon Valley digital rock star. He was a pioneer and publicizer of virtual-reality technology (computer-simulated experience. ) and knew all the big guys; Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg, —-Google, Facebook, etc…and he is so upset about what he has created, he is going around the world and warning the rich guys…of what he calls, “digital Maoism.”
Jaron Lanier, calls this “digital Maoism” indicting “internet intellectuals” like Facebook and Google of being “spy agencies.” He wants to subvert the “hive mind,” as the web world’s been called, before it engulfs us all, destroys political discourse, economic stability, the dignity of personhood and leads to “social catastrophe.” Instead of an ever-upward enlightenment, it is just as likely, he argues, that the crowds will devolve into an online lynch mob.
And who could deny this? Remember how excited Obama was about the Arab Spring? Remember how it was declared that the whole thing came about because of FACEBOOK? Without FACEBOOK the riots would not have evolved. But what came of that? While Zuckerberg was taking victory laps with Obama’s plans to get rid of Mubarak, a huge vacuum was created and the Muslim brotherhood jumped into that hole, and took the reigns of power, leaving the ‘useful idiots” staring at their cell phones and wondering what the hell happened.
And Jason sees this as not a good thing. It’s Mob rule…which is what democracy is, and our founders hated it. He explains it as:
“An enabling and foreshadowing of mob rule, not a growth of democracy, but an accretion of tribalism. But it slowly is turning us into a nation of hate-filled trolls. We have economic fear combined with everybody joined together on these instant twitchy social networks which are designed to create mass action. What does it sound like to you? It sounds to me like the prequel to potential social catastrophe.”
And then there’s the economic side, which is much more damaging. Here’s more:
“I’d had a career as a professional musician and what I started to see is that once we made information free, it wasn’t that we consigned all the big stars to the bread lines. They still had mega tour profits. Instead, it was the middle-class people who were consigned to the bread lines. And that was a very large body of people. And all of a sudden there was this weekly ritual, sometimes even daily: ‘Oh, we need to organize a benefit because so and so who’d been a manager of this big studio that closed its doors has cancer and doesn’t have insurance. We need to raise money so he can have his operation.’
And I realized this was a hopeless, stupid design of society and that it was our fault. It really hit on a personal level—this isn’t working. And I think you can draw an analogy to what happened with communism, where at some point you just have to say there’s too much wrong with these experiments. So by taking value off the books, you’re actually shrinking the economy.” whoever has the biggest computer can analyze everyone else to their advantage and concentrate wealth and power. [Meanwhile], it’s shrinking the overall economy. I think it’s the mistake of our age.”
Since Jason is a musician also, he sees the damage here. Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, they just don’t get it because the ONLY job they ever had was creating the internet. But when you’re a musician you dream of the hit record, and with free downloads…the monetary rewards of original music went out with the proverbial free downloads onto your hard drive.
And not just musicians…the whole print industry has been changed: thousands of newspapers and magazines have shut down. Think of how many journalists have lost their jobs. And SO much misinformation is put on the internet, it’s hard to tell what’s true and what isn’t.
Many of our schools are getting rid of books, and giving the kids IPADS. They have stopped teaching cursive writing…texting will become so big in the future, that future generations will not even know how to make a complete sentence. Already in China, the kids are forgetting how to read, because all they do is text. Not to mention the waste of time everyone spends on their computers.
AND…when everything is online: books, money—- all that you do and say will go to the few people who run the world and who will have the power to completely control every single thing. Jaron is right. Jason even goes so far as to blame the housing crash on the internet:
“The rise of networking has coincided with the loss of the middle class, instead of an expansion in general wealth, which is what should happen. But if you say we’re creating the information economy, except that we’re making information free, then what we’re saying is we’re destroying the economy.”
To my mind a over leveraged unsecured mortgage is exactly the same thing as a pirated music file. It’s somebody’s value that’s been copied many times to give benefit to some distant party. In the case of the music files, it’s to the benefit of an advertising spy like Google [which monetizes your search history], and in the case of the mortgage, it’s to the benefit of a fund manager somewhere. But in both cases all the risk and the cost is radiated out toward ordinary people and the middle classes—and even worse, the overall economy has shrunk in order to make a few people more.”
We read of online bullying leading to teen suicides in the United States and, in China, there are reports of well-organized online virtual lynch mobs forming…digital Maoism.”
You know, too many of us know someone who has been grieviously hurt by the internet. I know a man whose girlfriend got mad at him, and went online to FACEBOOK and told all kinds of horror stories to their whole network of friends, and it even got back to his work. They were lies, and somehow he forgave her, and they made up, but the damage had been done. This is happening to millions daily. There is no recourse in court….in fact the law can’t keep up with it.
And if you think that the powerful people will think twice about hurting society, remember the story of Zuckerberg. When he first invented FACEBOOK as a student, he put up a very demoralizing contest and rated all the women on his campus as “ugly” or “cute” and everyone on campus got to have fun putting down women. Typical liberal. He was old enough to have a moral compass, but he had none.
It was…disgusting….and yet, Zuckerberg was forgiven for such an insidious prank because he was a genius. The question is, when these young, rich, and sometimes very immature boys work with Presidents, you DO have a Maoism. Zuckerberg has moved to China to avoid taxes.
No doubt Zuckerberg thinks he is saving the world, he’s not like Jaron who sees beyond himself. You COULD say that the internet is a young technology..it will work out the bugs in time.
I’m sure they thought the same thing about nuclear warfare. But unlike the atomic bomb…so far, we’ve been kept pretty safe from it..it doesn’t affect our daily lives. But the internet is working it’s magic every single day. Hopefully…Jaron will make the rich elites think: After all…he’s right…we are NOT gadgets….but like the ‘ape': We sure do love them.
Like most baby boomers I am fascinated by the life of Steve Jobs. I actually remember typing on a typewriter…and having to white out mistakes, and getting ink on my hands from the carbon papers. The advancement of computers in our lifetime, while not as life changing as the car and the electric light in my grandmother’s lifetime, has certainly opened up new worlds for everyone. So the masters, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, have always been hero’s to my generation.
The new hit biography about Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, left no punches. In most cases he was a spoiled, absolute brat, with no social grace whatsoever. Still genius is forgiven when it comes to changing the world, and while the book makes you feel sorry for his family, and anyone who worked with him, they all said, without Steve, none of that fun stuff like the Mac, the I-Pod, the I-Phone, the I-Tunes…none of it would have existed.
He was arrogant, egotistical, mean, but right most of the time. In other words, he believed in himself and for that, he had his dad and mom to thank. Not the real ones, but the ones who adopted him.
While American’ s worship Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs, neither one of these men made the really cool computers we use today. What they did do was find the right engineers, and push the right ideas until they came into being. The real credit behind computers, men like Steve Wozniak, Jobs’ early partner, fade into the background. But— it’s one thing to have the vision, it’s quite another to make the visions happen and that’s where Gates and Jobs are attached at the hip.
The difference is that Gates licensed his software out to everyone, and Jobs kept all is ideas in the family of Apple. Two different business models. Two different men. Jobs was an artist. Gates, more the businessman.
Steve was a Bob Dylan fan. He was a Beatles fan. He was the hippie of the sixties who dropped acid, and went into a veggie diet that deprived him of the protein he needed in the end of his life when he was fighting cancer. I knew so many of these people growing up…the wild and crazy “peace, and free love” kids, who were, yes..children. When they got out into the real world..most all of them grew up and became conservatives.
But what happened to the baby boomers who didn’t grow up? The ones who stayed in that hippie stage forever? Like, Hillary Clinton?
The answer: They had rich parents to begin with. Hillary and Steve Jobs had upper middle class parents. So did Bill Gates. They never left the “free and open” leftist propaganda of the sixties, or even questioned it. They were ‘sensitive’ and were out to change the world. And they had the connections to do it.
You can read the biography about all the clever things Steve Jobs did to make his visions come to life, it’s a good book …but I’m going to talk about something else that bothers me: Why do so many of these people…ones who make money the good old capitalistic way, feel so connected to Karl Marx?
The two biggest capitalists of our generations…were die hard liberals. Both Gates and Jobs were Democrats. Al Gore was on the board of Apple. Bill Clinton was a good friend. While Steve Jobs told Obama that he needed to get the government regulations off businesses back, he still wanted to help Obama get reelected by making a great commercial for his reelection campaign.
Here’s a funny story from his book: Steve Jobs had the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, on his board of Directors at Apple, probably due to Al Gore’s insistence because Al Gore is on the board of Google and Apple. Google literally stole the I Pad idea and came out with the Android. Steve was so mad at getting ribbed off by his own board member he said:
“Google, you fucking ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off. Grand Theft. I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this. Outside of Search, Google’s products. Android, Google Docs, are shit. “
Did Al Gore have anything to do with this theft? Al Gore is on Google’s board too, and Al Gore and Google would think nothing of “redistributing” Steve Jobs hard earned ideas to the world for free, if they both could get rich off of it themselves.
There’s something about Bill Gates that creeps me out. He puts on that “face” of innocent and it’s no doubt that you would be “gotten.” Steve Jobs at least was honest. If he didn’t like something, he told you. At least you knew.
I’ve never owned an Apple, but, there is no doubt, I would love it. Steve Job was an artist first, and then he became the best CEO in the world. Everyone wants the Apple now. Steve Jobs made sure that the brand meant quality, and that used to be the American way. Steve Jobs wanted the very best, and demanded it. We are all the richer for it.
Read the book, it’s an amazing story.