The New Environment

The machinations of the world are at work concerning our freedom for tomorrow.

Every government and every organization on the planet has a stake in it. From Snowden, to Assange, to Malala, to Greta Thunberg, books from some years ago like The Consent of the Networked and Who Owns the Future?, along with continued protests around the world, er, the subtitle to Consent says it all: it is a “Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom”.

Since this book came out the war has seemingly been lost as proven in the new book Davos Man: How the Billionaires Devoured the World by Peter S. Goodman of the New York Times.

For Lanier’s core argument in another book Who Owns the Future? is pretty straightforward—that those with the biggest servers (so-called “Siren Servers”) are increasingly sucking up all the money, creativity, and generally labour, on the Internet. We all work for them now.

Lanier makes another connection I had not understood clearly before—that what happened in 2008 concerning world finance along with the nosedive of the music industry and the coming collapse of other diverse industries which could include the academe (witness MOOCs), book publishing and the arts in general, and soon law, medicine, and government itself, are all the result of the same technical transition.

These are the forces of consolidation, just like what Walmart and Amazon have done to push off basically all competitors from retail, will go the world—using technical prowess: BIG databases, advanced analytic engines, and myriad other über-sophisticated tools.

It is a worldwide economic pitch so tricky, that most are signing up for their own deprecation, one-by-one, million-by-million. That’s what it is all about.

And the Covid-19 pandemic, as Umair Haque so eloquently expresses almost daily on Medium, has only exacerbated all these trends many fold.


Survival in the Relentless New Copyright © 2023 by Jonathan Wexler. All Rights Reserved.