Tea Time With Jesse

Six of One, Half Dozen the Other

Technology Leads to… Inequality? Computers Are Exploiting Our FREE Labor.

Posted by middlerage on May 10, 2013

So just like my worries about sharing music, I also stumble on orators who have illuminated an issue in a (to me) awesome way, but perhaps you will be ‘meh’. I hope not with this case, and you’ll be as stunned as me.

For whatever reason (and wealth inequality being a pretty good reason) the recent interview with Jaron Lanier on the Diane Rehm show stopped me in my tracks. I am blown away, and finding myself saying a lot of “Yeah! What he said!” I hope you will too. I strongly hope you will read the transcription (linked at bottom), and here is a (heavily edited) teaser to whet your appetite:

 … when my colleagues and I worked on getting digital networking to be operational, we always anticipated that when it was introduced, we’d see a wave of fresh prosperity. We’d see a wave of well-being. We’d see people doing better in their lives. […] And the reason we believed that is that’s what technologists always want to see. We always — that is what we saw with the advent of plumbing or vaccinations or the freeways or electricity and, you know, not always perfectly, but generally one would see that. […]
I mean, why else do these things? What’s the purpose otherwise? And once networking became available, I was shocked and disappointed to see its effect on the world. And I know there are some triumphs that are often talked about. Maybe it played a role in the Arab Spring. I actually have my doubts about that, but let’s say it did. In the developed world, what we’ve seen is an increase in income concentration. We’ve seen austerity. We’ve seen jobless recoveries. We’ve seen a loss of social mobility. […] We’ve seen a hollowing-out of the labor market where middle class jobs are harder to come by and more people end up either on top or on the bottom, not too many on top. And I started to worry, like, why are we not seeing the benefits? And when I looked at it, I realized that we hadn’t really thought through what we were doing well enough. […] Even if people are created equal, computers are not and some of those people are going to have bigger computers than the others. And those that have the biggest computers have this extraordinary advantage, even if they didn’t realize they were going to get it in advance. [emphasis mine]
Here’s the link. Enjoy. While you’re not tearing your hair out and planning the revolution. http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2013-05-09/jaron-lanier-who-owns-future/transcript

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