“The best thing to do now, if you want to change the world, is to start a company.”
Mega-wizard Jaron Lanier has a dystopian vision of our future if Google and Apple have their way. First in “You Are Not A Gadget” and recently in “Who Owns The Future” offers a counter narrative to the good times are coming pabulum offered by our new overloads at Google and Apple. For an interesting interview which covers Jaron’s major points see this print article in Salon or this Edge Video. (Additional interviews and videos can be found here and here).
In “Who Owns the Future” Jaron wrote:
Picture this: It’s sometime in the late twenty-first century, and you’re at the beach. A neuro-interfaced seagull perches and seems to speak, telling you that you might want to know that nanobots are repairing your heart valve at the moment (who knew you had a looming heart problem?) and the sponsor is the casino up the road, which paid for this avian message and the automatic cardiology through Google or whatever company is punning that sort of switchboard decades hence.
You sit at the edge of the ocean, wherever the coast will be after Miami is abandoned to the waves. You are thirsty. Random little clots of dust are full-on robotic interactive devices, since advertising companies long ago released plagues of smart dust upon the world. That means you can always speak and some machine will be listening. “I’m thirsty, I need water.”
The seagull responds, “You are not rated as enough of a commercial prospect for any of our sponsors to pay for freshwater for you.” You can, “But I have a penny.” “Water costs two pennies.” “There is an ocean three feet away. Just desalinate some water!” “Desalinization is licensed to water carriers. You need to subscribe. However, you can enjoy free access to any movie ever made, or pornography, of a simulation of a deceased family member for you to interact with as you die from dehydration. Your social networks will be automatically updated with the news of your death.” And finally, “Don’t you want to play the last penny at the casino that just repaired your heart? You might win big and be able to enjoy it.”
Imagining a world of only Google and Apple Lanier offers this parody EULA for a child’s Lemonade Stand:
See you in the future, or in Brazil!
- Jaron Lanier Is James Joyce of Silicon Valley (whoisylvia.typepad.com)