You can get a good deal on having a decent civilisation, but they never come for free.

Excerpts from Jaron Lanier’s “Who owns the future?” parts 5-8.

Optimization is not the same thing as truth. p.195

We who are enthusiastic about the internet love the fact that so many people contribute to it. It’s hard to believe that once upon a time people worried about whether anyone would have anything worthwhile to say online! I have not lost even a tiny bit of this aspect of our formative idealism from decades ago. I still find that when I put my trust in people, overall they come through. People at large always seem to be more creative, good-willed, and resourceful than one might have guessed. p.197

Once a critical mass of conversation is on Facebook, then it’s hard to get conversation going elsewhere. What might have started out as a choice, is no longer a choice after a network effect causes a phase change. After that point we effectively have less choice. It’s no longer commerce, but soft blackmail. p.198

A world in which more and more is monetized, instead of less and less, could lead to a middle class oriented information economy, in which information isn’t free, but is affordable. Instead of making information inaccessible, that would lead to a situation in which the most critical information becomes accessible for the first time. You’d own the raw information about you that can sway your life. There is no such thing as a perfect system, but the hypothesis is on offer that this could lead to a more democratic outcome than does the cheap illusion of ‘free’ information. p.202


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