Who Owns the Future?

  • by Jaron Lanier
  • Narrated by Pete Simoneilli
  • 12 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The dazzling new masterwork from the prophet of Silicon Valley
Jaron Lanier is the best-selling author of You Are Not a Gadget, the father of virtual reality, and one of the most influential thinkers of our time. For decades, Lanier has drawn on his expertise and experience as a computer scientist, musician, and digital media pioneer to predict the revolutionary ways in which technology is transforming our culture.
Who Owns the Future? is a visionary reckoning with the effects network technologies have had on our economy. Lanier asserts that the rise of digital networks led our economy into recession and decimated the middle class. Now, as technology flattens more and more industries - from media to medicine to manufacturing - we are facing even greater challenges to employment and personal wealth.
But there is an alternative to allowing technology to own our future. In this ambitious and deeply humane book, Lanier charts the path toward a new information economy that will stabilize the middle class and allow it to grow. It is time for ordinary people to be rewarded for what they do and share on the web.
Insightful, original, and provocative, Who Owns the Future? is necessary listening for all who live a part of their lives online.


What the Critics Say

"Daringly original... Lanier's sharp, accessible style and opinions make Who Owns the Future? terrifically inviting." (Janet Maslin, The New York Times)
"Lanier has a mind as boundless as the internet.... [He is] the David Foster Wallace of tech." (London Evening Standard)
"One of the triumphs of Lanier's intelligent and subtle book is its inspiring portrait of the kind of people that a democratic information economy would produce. His vision implies that if we are allowed to lead absorbing, properly remunerated lives, we will likewise outgrow our addiction to consumerism and technology." (The Guardian)


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Customer Reviews

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Really Long Blog Post Sold as a Book

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I tried to like this book. I try to appreciate radical thinking even if I don't agree with it. This wasn't worth the effort. Too full of logical falicies, unsupported assertions, magical thinking, and sloppy reductionism. This book is begging for critical review.

Now, where's my nano payment?

Any additional comments?

Take his thesis to the next logical plateau and his idea quickly falls apart. Most of my thoughts, the information I produce, are not mine. I received that information from other people. In the parlance of the book, I was part of a network of students and teachers. Should I be making nano payments to all the teachers and everyone else from whom I've ever learned anything? His philosophy doesn't ever address the huge analog hole that this human mediation. Why are digital networks special? Isn't a system of renumeration for information sharing in the specific and limited context of digital networks inherently unbalanced?

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- Kevin Wixson


Society is at the threshold of change. Jaron Lanier writes about the information age in “Who Owns the Future”. Just as the industrial revolution and two world wars mechanize human production, the computer and internet “informationize” mechanical production. Lanier bluntly explains human employment will decline in proportion to computerization of production.

Lanier is neither posturing as a Luddite nor abandoning the principles of democratic’ capitalism. He suggests human beings need to understand their changing role in society. Lanier infers a failure to understand human’ role-change will compel disastrous reactions; i.e. reactions like the Luddites of the Industrial Revolution or socialist, fascist, and communist sympathizers of the post-industrial world.

Lanier begins to explain the concept of information monetization. Information monetization is something that exists today but is mistakenly understood as something that is free. Examples are Facebook, Google Search, Amazon.com, Microsoft Windows 10, Apple ITunes, governments, and other organizations that Lanier calls Siren Servers. Nothing is free. The price humans pay is information about themselves, their needs, desires, habits, interests, etc. Every phone call, every web search, every email, every purchase made tells Siren Servers what product they can sell, what price they can sell it at, and how much money, power, and prestige they can accumulate.

Lanier suggests that the concept of Siren Servers should be expanded to include defined populations, common-interest groups, and individuals. Lanier argues that information, humans now give for free, should be monetized. Every person that produces information that increases another’s money, power, or prestige should be compensated.

“Who Owns the Future” is an insightful view of the modern world. Unlike those who revile modernity and pine for a return to an idealized past, Lanier offers an alternative. Lanier strikes one as a Socratic seer of modernity.
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- CHET YARBROUGH "Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-16-2013
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio