Who Owns the Future?

by Jaron Lanier

Number of pages: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

BBB Library: Technology and Globalization

ISBN: 9781451654967

About the Author

Lanier is a computer scientist and musician, best known for his work in Virtual Reality research—he coined and popularized the term.


Editorial Review

Jaron Lanier is the father of virtual reality and one of the world’s most brilliant thinkers. Who Owns the Future? is his visionary reckoning with the most urgent economic and social trend of our age: the poisonous concentration of money and power in our digital networks.

Book Reviews

"InWho Owns the Future?he tellingly questions the trajectory of economic value in the information age, and argues that there has been a fundamental misstep in how capitalism has gone digital." - The Guardian

"Mr. Lanier’s sharp, accessible style and opinions make “Who Owns the Future?” terrifically inviting." - The New York Times

"Lanier gets off to a promising start. He notes that in any reasonably fair and just society, the fruits of the economy ought to be distributed in a manner that resembles a bell-shaped curve." - Boston Globe

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Wisdom to Share

When we make our world more efficient through the use of digital networks, that should make our economy grow, not shrink.

We’re used to treating information as “free,” but the price we pay for the illusion of “free” is only workable so long as most of the overall economy isn’t about information.

The outcome of chaos is unpredictable, and we shouldn’t rely on it to design our future.

More things can be done practically for free, if only it weren’t for those people who want to be paid.

Facebook takes your data in exchange for being able to brag about yourself and stalk your friends. What is Facebook worth with zero users? Zero dollars.

The foundational idea of humanistic computing is that provenance is valuable.

Information is people in disguise, and people ought to be paid for value they contribute that can be sent or stored on a digital network.

Our sketch of a possible future will hopefully prod hotshot young computer scientists and economists to prove they can do better, and to present improved designs.

Please stop once per hour and check yourself: are you still keeping people in the center? Is it still all about the people?