Jaron Lanier: You Are Not a Gadget

WED, JAN 13, 2010 (49:33)

Computer scientist Jaron Lanier discusses his new book, You Are Not a Gadget.

Jaron Lanier, a Silicon Valley visionary since the 1980s, was among the first to predict the revolutionary changes the World Wide Web would bring to commerce and culture. Now, in his first book, written more than two decades after the web was created, Lanier offers this provocative and cautionary look at the way it is transforming our lives for better and for worse.

The current design and function of the web have become so familiar that it is easy to forget that they grew out of programming decisions made decades ago. The web's first designers made crucial choices (such as making one's presence anonymous) that have had enormous--and often unintended--consequences. What's more, these designs quickly became "locked in," a permanent part of the web's very structure.

Lanier discusses the technical and cultural problems that can grow out of poorly considered digital design and warns that our financial markets and sites like Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter are elevating the "wisdom" of mobs and computer algorithms over the intelligence and judgment of individuals.

+ BIO: Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier is known as the father of virtual reality technology and has worked on the interface between computer science and medicine, physics, and neuroscience. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Partner
Harvard Book Store
Series
The Best of 2010 Series