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object:Jaron Lanier
class:author
subject class:Computer Science
American computer philosophy writer, computer scientist, visual artist, and composer of contemporary classical music.

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Jaron Lanier

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1:Go to where you are kindest ~ Jaron Lanier,
2:Each of us has an inner troll. ~ Jaron Lanier,
3:I'm an advocate of human nature. ~ Jaron Lanier,
4:I'm not in any sense anti-Facebook. ~ Jaron Lanier,
5:Information is alienated experience. ~ Jaron Lanier,
6:Humans change themselves through technology. ~ Jaron Lanier,
7:Our times demand rejection of seven word bios. ~ Jaron Lanier,
8:It will not suffer if it doesn’t get what it wants. ~ Jaron Lanier,
9:Fake people are a cultural denial-of-service attack. ~ Jaron Lanier,
10:What if only humans are real, and information is not? ~ Jaron Lanier,
11:Writing and thinking is not economically sustainable. ~ Jaron Lanier,
12:You have to be somebody before you can share yourself. ~ Jaron Lanier,
13:Criticism is always easier than constructive solutions. ~ Jaron Lanier,
14:I am conscious. I have faith that you are also conscious. ~ Jaron Lanier,
15:enduring at the time played in his formulation of the test. ~ Jaron Lanier,
16:Evolution has never found a way to be any speed but very slow. ~ Jaron Lanier,
17:External reality is sort of an affectation of the nervous system. ~ Jaron Lanier,
18:To me, to say that war isn't evil is to say that nothing is evil. ~ Jaron Lanier,
19:After my mother's death, I had such difficulty relating to people. ~ Jaron Lanier,
20:Social media is biased, not to the Left or the Right, but downward ~ Jaron Lanier,
21:about: Don’t post anonymously unless you really might be in danger. ~ Jaron Lanier,
22:I want to say: you have to be somebody before you can share yourself. ~ Jaron Lanier,
23:The most important thing about a technology is how it changes people. ~ Jaron Lanier,
24:La experiencia es el único proceso que puede desalienar la información. ~ Jaron Lanier,
25:Information doesn’t deserve to be free. It is an abstract tool; a useful ~ Jaron Lanier,
26:that you will become entrapped in someone else’s recent careless thoughts. ~ Jaron Lanier,
27:The network by itself is meaningless. Only the people were ever meaningful. ~ Jaron Lanier,
28:People degrade themselves in order to make machines seem smart all the time. ~ Jaron Lanier,
29:I think seeking perfection in human affairs is a perfect way to destroy them. ~ Jaron Lanier,
30:Moral hazard has never met a more efficient amplifier than a digital network. ~ Jaron Lanier,
31:Our early libertarian idealism resulted in gargantuan, global data monopsonies. ~ Jaron Lanier,
32:The great thing about crummy software is the amount of employment it generates. ~ Jaron Lanier,
33:When machines get incredibly cheap to run, people seem correspondingly expensive. ~ Jaron Lanier,
34:Our willingness to suffer for the sake of the perception of freedom is remarkable. ~ Jaron Lanier,
35:A digital sound sample in angry rap doesn't correspond to the graffiti but the wall. ~ Jaron Lanier,
36:Governments oppress people, but so do mobs. You need to avoid both to make progress. ~ Jaron Lanier,
37:I think most of the dramatic new ideas come from little companies that then grow big. ~ Jaron Lanier,
38:A real friendship ought to introduce each person to unexpected weirdness in the other. ~ Jaron Lanier,
39:My parents were kind of like me in that they had tons and tons of weird, amazing stuff. ~ Jaron Lanier,
40:People try to treat technology as an object, and it can't be. It can only be a channel. ~ Jaron Lanier,
41:If you get deep enough, you get trapped. Stop calling yourself a user. You are being used. ~ Jaron Lanier,
42:There is no difference between machine autonomy and the abdication of human responsibility. ~ Jaron Lanier,
43:A market economy cannot thrive absent the well-being of average people, even in a gilded age. ~ Jaron Lanier,
44:Moving in with people might have been for cats what advancing technology has been for people. ~ Jaron Lanier,
45:It is impossible to work in information technology without also engaging in social engineering. ~ Jaron Lanier,
46:Mobs and dictators were made for each other, and when mobs appear, dictators will soon flourish. ~ Jaron Lanier,
47:Software breaks before it bends, so it demands perfection in a universe that prefers statistics. ~ Jaron Lanier,
48:Spirituality is committing suicide. Consciousness is attempting to will itself out of existence. ~ Jaron Lanier,
49:Rama’s experiments suggest that some metaphors can be understood as mild forms of synesthesia. In ~ Jaron Lanier,
50:It’s as if Facebook is saying, “Pay us or you don’t exist.” They’re becoming the existential mafia. ~ Jaron Lanier,
51:There is nothing more gray, stultifying, or dreary than life lived inside the confines of a theory. ~ Jaron Lanier,
52:I've occasionally been wrong about certain things, which is in a way more delightful than being right. ~ Jaron Lanier,
53:What if deeply reaching a small number of people matters more than reaching everybody with nothing? (p68) ~ Jaron Lanier,
54:I think that one can seek a way to eliminate war, and still agree that fighting the Nazis was a good thing. ~ Jaron Lanier,
55:People are clustered into paranoia peer groups because then they can be more easily and predictably swayed. ~ Jaron Lanier,
56:Linux is a superbly polished copy of an antique - shinier than the original, perhaps, but still defined by it. ~ Jaron Lanier,
57:Why do people deserve a penny when they update their Facebook status? Because they'll spend some of it on you. ~ Jaron Lanier,
58:I do real paintings, you know. I'm a little messy in the studio, so I'm a bit of a danger. But I just adore it. ~ Jaron Lanier,
59:I think complexity is mostly sort of crummy stuff that is there because it's too expensive to change the interface. ~ Jaron Lanier,
60:What does it mean to not be alone? I've approached that question through music, technology, writing and other means. ~ Jaron Lanier,
61:Books are really, really hard to write. They represent a kind of a summit of grappling with what one really has to say ~ Jaron Lanier,
62:If you're old enough to have a job and to have a life, you use Facebook exactly as advertised, you look up old friends. ~ Jaron Lanier,
63:I'm hoping the reader can see that artificial intelligence is better understood as a belief system instead of a technology. ~ Jaron Lanier,
64:Of all the things you can spend a lot of money on, the only things you expect to fail frequently are software and medicine. ~ Jaron Lanier,
65:We’re being hypnotized little by little by technicians we can’t see, for purposes we don’t know. We’re all lab animals now. ~ Jaron Lanier,
66:What might once have been called advertising must now be understood as continuous behavior modification on a titanic scale. ~ Jaron Lanier,
67:The nerd flavor of masculinity has overwhelmed the macho kind in real-life power dynamics, and therefore in popular culture. ~ Jaron Lanier,
68:Facebook says, 'Privacy is theft,' because they're selling your lack of privacy to the advertisers who might show up one day. ~ Jaron Lanier,
69:Funding a civilization through advertising is like trying to get nutrition by connecting a tube from one’s anus to one’s mouth. ~ Jaron Lanier,
70:In order to make tech into something that empowers people, people have to be willing to act as if we can handle being powerful. ~ Jaron Lanier,
71:We have repeatedly demonstrated our species's bottomless ability to lower our standards to make information technology look good. ~ Jaron Lanier,
72:we have repeatedly demonstrated our species's bottomless ability to lower our standards to make information technology look good. ~ Jaron Lanier,
73:Individuals achieve optimal stupidity when they're given substantial powers while being insulated from the results of their actions. ~ Jaron Lanier,
74:Not only have consumers prioritized flash and laziness over empowerment, but we have also acquiesced to being spied on all the time. ~ Jaron Lanier,
75:A remarkable thing about the Silicon Valley culture is that its status structure is so based on technical accomplishment and prowess. ~ Jaron Lanier,
76:Either there’s a total shitstorm of assholes (that’s not a mixed metaphor, right?) or everyone is super careful and artificially nice. ~ Jaron Lanier,
77:Create a website that expresses something about who you are that won't fit into the template available to you on a social networking site. ~ Jaron Lanier,
78:There will always be humans, lots of them, who provide the data that makes the networked realization of any technology better and cheaper. ~ Jaron Lanier,
79:When you have a global mush, people lose their identity, they become pseudonyms, they have no investment and no consequence in what they do. ~ Jaron Lanier,
80:I mean, you can't have advertising be the only official business of the information economy if the information economy is going to take over. ~ Jaron Lanier,
81:It's as if you kneel to plant the seed of a tree and it grows so fast that it swallows your whole town before you can even rise to your feet. ~ Jaron Lanier,
82:To become a number is to be explicitly subservient to a system. A number is a public verification of reduced freedom, status, and personhood. ~ Jaron Lanier,
83:An intelligent person feels guilty for downloading music without paying the musician, but they use this free-open-culture ideology to cover it. ~ Jaron Lanier,
84:Wouldn’t it be easier just to treat the information space as a public resource and tax or charge companies somehow for the benefit of using it? ~ Jaron Lanier,
85:At the end of the road of the pursuit of technological sophistication appears to lie a playhouse in which humankind regresses to nursery school. ~ Jaron Lanier,
86:The decision reduction service would use its particular style and competence to create bundles of decisions you could accept or reject en masse. ~ Jaron Lanier,
87:Whatever the motivation, Turing authored the first trope to support the idea that bits can be alive on their own, independent of human observers. ~ Jaron Lanier,
88:When we ask people to live their lives through our models, we are potentially reducing life itself. How can we ever know what we might be losing? ~ Jaron Lanier,
89:People have to be able to make money off their brains and their hearts. Or else we're all going to starve, and it's the machines that'll get good. ~ Jaron Lanier,
90:Style used to be an interaction between the human soul and tools that were limiting. In the digital era, it will have to come from the soul alone. ~ Jaron Lanier,
91:According to reporting by the New York Times, the going rate for fake people on Twitter in early 2018 was $225 for the first 25,000 fake followers. ~ Jaron Lanier,
92:Advertising is the edge of what people know how to do and of human experience and it explains the latest ways progress has changed us to ourselves. ~ Jaron Lanier,
93:Siren Servers are narcissists; blind to where value comes from, including the web of global interdependence that is at the core of their own value. ~ Jaron Lanier,
94:I fear that we are beginning to design ourselves to suit digital models of us, and I worry about a leaching of empathy and humanity in that process. ~ Jaron Lanier,
95:I fear that we are beginning to design ourselves to suit digital models of us, and I worry about a leaching of emphaty and humanity in that process. ~ Jaron Lanier,
96:In a more incremental world, attributions and rewards will still be contested, no doubt, but particular outcomes will no longer make or break lives. ~ Jaron Lanier,
97:It might sound like a contradiction at first, but it isn't; collective processes make the best sense when participants are acting as individuals (p48) ~ Jaron Lanier,
98:Chemotherapy is a good thing even though it kills healthy cells. But we still hope for something better. We'd like to prevent cancer in the first place. ~ Jaron Lanier,
99:Speaking through social media isn’t really speaking at all. Context is applied to what you say after you say it, for someone else’s purposes and profit. ~ Jaron Lanier,
100:If you love a medium made of software, there's a danger that you will become entrapped in someone else's recent careless thoughts. Struggle against that. ~ Jaron Lanier,
101:It's possible, without taking sides or playing the statesman game, to reduce destruction simply by reducing the development of technology of destruction. ~ Jaron Lanier,
102:Services like Google and Facebook only exist because of the social acceptance of a mass amount of distributed volunteer labor from tons and tons of people. ~ Jaron Lanier,
103:One good test of whether an economy is humanistic or not is the plausibility of earning the ability to drop out of it for a while without incident or insult. ~ Jaron Lanier,
104:Google's thing is not advertising because it's not a romanticizing operation. It doesn't involve expression. It's a link. What they're doing is selling access. ~ Jaron Lanier,
105:By all rights, cephalopods should be running the show and we should be their pets. What we have that they don’t have is neoteny. Our secret weapon is childhood. ~ Jaron Lanier,
106:If Twitter ceased operations tomorrow, not only would Trump not be able to tweet, obviously, but also I believe he’d become a nicer, better person at all hours. ~ Jaron Lanier,
107:If we allow our self-congratulatory adoration of technology to distract us from our own contact with each other, then somehow the original agenda has been lost. ~ Jaron Lanier,
108:Web 2.0 ideas have a chirpy, cheerful rhetoric to them, but I think they consistently express a profound pessimism about humans, human nature and the human future. ~ Jaron Lanier,
109:If someone reuses your video snippet, and that person’s work incorporating yours is reused by yet a third party, you still get a micropayment from that third party. ~ Jaron Lanier,
110:Musicians and journalists are the canaries in the coalmine, but, eventually, as computers get more and more powerful, it will kill off all middle-class professions. ~ Jaron Lanier,
111:At a minimum if we can just have enough distribution of clout in society so it isn't run by a tiny minority, then at the very least it gives us some room to breathe. ~ Jaron Lanier,
112:Here is yet another statement of the core idea of this book, that data concerning people is best thought of as people in disguise, and they’re usually up to something. ~ Jaron Lanier,
113:A Nelsonian solution provides a simple, predictable way to share without limit or hassle over digital networks, and yet doesn’t destroy middle classes in the long term. ~ Jaron Lanier,
114:Emphasizing the crowd means de-emphasizing individual humans in the design of society, and when you ask people not to be people, they revert to bad, mob-like behaviors. ~ Jaron Lanier,
115:Money forgets...Money allows blood enemies to collaborate; when money changes hands we forget for at least a moment the history of conflict and the potential for revenge. ~ Jaron Lanier,
116:Most users of social media have experienced catfishing (which cats hate), senseless rejection, being belittled or ignored, outright sadism, or all of the above, and worse. ~ Jaron Lanier,
117:Information doesn’t deserve to be free. It is an abstract tool; a useful
fantasy, a nothing. It is nonexistent until and unless a person experiences
it in a useful way. ~ Jaron Lanier,
118:We're losing track of the vastness of the potential for computer science. We really have to revive the beautiful intellectual joy of it, as opposed to the business potential. ~ Jaron Lanier,
119:Advertisers and marketers should be looking to bring new experiences to different parts of the brain. It's a more profound idea than just dropping a billboard into a video game. ~ Jaron Lanier,
120:We already knew that kids learned computer technology more easily than adults, It is as if children were waiting all these centuries for someone to invent their native language. ~ Jaron Lanier,
121:The only hope for social networking sites from a business point of view is for a magic formula to appear in which some method of violating privacy and dignity becomes acceptable. ~ Jaron Lanier,
122:An economy where advertisers thrive while journalists and artists struggle, reflects the values of a society more interested in deception and manipulation than in truth and beauty ~ Jaron Lanier,
123:Some of the fantasy objects arising from cybernetic totalism (like the noosphere, which is a supposed global brain formed by the sum of all the human brains connected through the ~ Jaron Lanier,
124:What did you think would happen? We in Silicon Valley undermined copyright to make commerce become more about services instead of content: more about our code instead of their files. ~ Jaron Lanier,
125:The interesting thing about advertising is that the things that annoy us sometimes about it are really human. It's us looking at ourselves - and like all human endeavors it's imperfect. ~ Jaron Lanier,
126:My choice is to be engaged even if that means I am tainted. I live with contradictions, in accordance with the human condition, but do my best not to forget what absurdities are involved. ~ Jaron Lanier,
127:In fact, one reason I am interested in developing things in virtual reality is that they're so fascinating. I can come up with problems that are harder than warfare to take up people's time. ~ Jaron Lanier,
128:If you can have a conversation with a simulated person presented by an AI program, can you tell how far you’ve let your sense of personhood degrade in order to make the illusion work for you? ~ Jaron Lanier,
129:Eliminating wickedness is a different project from eliminating violence. Eliminating violence - the destruction associated with wickedness - is a practical program that I'm very willing to pursue. ~ Jaron Lanier,
130:Don’t worry: It’s not excessively expensive or a threat to the efficiency of the Internet to keep track of where information came from. It will actually make the Internet faster and more efficient. ~ Jaron Lanier,
131:There are almost no investigative local news organizations left in the United States. Our huge nation is only a few organizations away from having no independent newsrooms with resources and clout. ~ Jaron Lanier,
132:The Snowden leaks made people all over the world feel violated. We don't know who has read our most tender emails. It feels bad, and if we ever get used to that feeling, that would feel even worse. ~ Jaron Lanier,
133:Las experiencias con las plataformas INCORDIO oscilan entre dos extremos: o bien sus usuarios forman una turba virtual de idiotas, o bien todo el mundo es sumamente cuidadoso y artificialmente amable. ~ Jaron Lanier,
134:Unfortunately, by forcing more and more value off the books as the world economy turns into an information economy, the ideal of “free” information could erode economic interdependencies between nations. ~ Jaron Lanier,
135:Google famously funded a project to “solve death.”6 This is such a precisely religious pretension that I’m surprised the religions of the world didn’t serve Google with a copyright infringement take-down notice. ~ Jaron Lanier,
136:We should talk about the ultimate cause of war. It's a question we should never stop asking, because if we do, there's a chance, however remote, that we might miss an opportunity to reduce the occurrence of war. ~ Jaron Lanier,
137: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. ~ Jaron Lanier,
138:If anything, there's a reverse Moore's Law observable in software: As processors become faster and memory becomes cheaper, software becomes correspondingly slower and more bloated, using up all available resources. ~ Jaron Lanier,
139:The foundational idea of humanistic computing is that provenance is valuable. Information is people in disguise, and people ought to be paid for value they contribute that can be sent or stored on a digital network. ~ Jaron Lanier,
140:Anonymous blog comments, vapid video pranks and lightweight mash-ups may seem trivial and harmless, but as a whole, this widespread practice of fragmentary, impersonal communication has demeaned personal interaction. ~ Jaron Lanier,
141:As the familiar quote usually attributed to Supreme Court justice Louis D. Brandeis goes, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both. ~ Jaron Lanier,
142:Communication is now often experienced as a superhuman phenomenon that towers above individuals. A new generation has come of age with a reduced expectation of what a person can be, and of who each person might become. ~ Jaron Lanier,
143:It is exactly when others insist that it’s a sign of being free, fresh, and radical to do what everybody’s doing that you might want to take notice and think for yourself. Don’t be surprised if this is really hard to do. ~ Jaron Lanier,
144:Ideally, earning full-on wealth, not just cash, will become more like what spending is like already. There will be a multitude of incremental wealth creation events instead of a few big game-changing leaps in one’s status. ~ Jaron Lanier,
145:One thing that I have been trying to do is bring together in places like Bosnia technologists who create ever-more destructive land mines [and convince them not to build more dangerous mines]. And that has actually worked. ~ Jaron Lanier,
146:Every power-seeking entity in the world, whether it’s a government, a business, or an informal group, has gotten wise to the idea that if you can assemble information about other people, that information makes you powerful. ~ Jaron Lanier,
147:I'm astonished at how readily a great many people I know, young people, have accepted a reduced economic prospect and limited freedoms in any substantial sense, and basically traded them for being able to screw around online. ~ Jaron Lanier,
148:When developers of digital technologies design a program that requires you to interact with a computer as if it were a person, they ask you to accept in some corner of your brain that you might also be conceived of as a program. ~ Jaron Lanier,
149:We imagine "pure" cybernetic systems, but we can prove only that we know how to build fairly dysfunctional ones. We kid ourselves when we think we understand something, even a computer, merely because we can model or digitize it. ~ Jaron Lanier,
150:If you listen first, and write later, then what you write will have had time to filter through your brain and you'll be in what you say. This is what makes you exist. If you are only a reflector of information, are you really there? ~ Jaron Lanier,
151:Networks need a great number of people to participate in them to generate significant value. But when they do, only a small number of people get paid. That has the net effect of centralizing wealth and limiting overall economic growth. ~ Jaron Lanier,
152:In the Sixties, the hippies said "Make love, not war," and that was naive. But it might be less naive to say "Make music, not war," in the sense that the people who create musical instruments are the same people who make up new weapons. ~ Jaron Lanier,
153:I would argue that among musicians who work in technology today, the level of technological sophistication probably exceeds that of military programs, to be blunt. They are just really smart people attracted to making strange new sounds. ~ Jaron Lanier,
154:The most effective young Facebook users, however -- the ones who will probably be winners if Facebook turns out to be a model of the future they will inhabit as adults -- are the ones who create successful online fictions about themselves. ~ Jaron Lanier,
155:At the end of the day, even the magic of machine translation is like Facebook, a way of taking free contributions from people and regurgitating them as bait for advertisers or others who hope to take advantage of being close to a top server. ~ Jaron Lanier,
156:If you are twittering, innovate in order to find a way to describe your internal state instead of trivial external events, to avoid the creeping danger of believing that objectively described events define you, as they would define a machine. ~ Jaron Lanier,
157:If you’re a mark of social media, if you’re being manipulated by it, one of the ways to tell is if there’s a certain kind of personality quality that overtakes you...It’s this kind of highly reactive, thin-skinned, outraged single-mindedness. ~ Jaron Lanier,
158:If you want to know what's really going on in a society or ideology, follow the money. If money is flowing to advertising instead of musicians, journalists, and artists, then a society is more concerned with manipulation than truth or beauty. ~ Jaron Lanier,
159:With an eBook, however, you are not a first-class commercial citizen. Instead, you have only purchased tenuous rights within someone else’s company store. You cannot resell, nor can you do anything else to treat your purchase as an investment. ~ Jaron Lanier,
160:Separation anxiety is assuaged by constant connection. Young people announce every detail of their lives on services like Twitter not to show off, but to avoid the closed door at bedtime, the empty room, the screaming vacuum of an isolated mind. ~ Jaron Lanier,
161:one might ask why big business data is still so often used on faith, even after it has failed spectacularly. The answer is of course that big business data happens to facilitate superquick and vast near-term accumulations of wealth and influence. ~ Jaron Lanier,
162:The beauty of HTML was that one-way linking made it very simple to spread because you could put something up and take no responsibility whatsoever. And that creates a society in which people display no responsibility whatsoever. That's the problem. ~ Jaron Lanier,
163:What is extraordinary is that in the United States the current culture desires feelings of machismo and power, but at the same time has absolutely no taste whatsoever for even the slightest loss or bloodshed or ickiness. That's a fascinating combination. ~ Jaron Lanier,
164:Advertisers are not thinking radically enough - they look for technology to lead instead of trying the neuroscience approach and thinking about what parts of the brain haven't been activated before. These new experiences bring new capabilities to the brain. ~ Jaron Lanier,
165:We have given up our connection to context. Social media mashes up meaning. Whatever you say will be contextualized and given meaning by the way algorithms, crowds, and crowds of fake people who are actually algorithms mash it up with what other people say. ~ Jaron Lanier,
166:There's no question that males are more violent and more prone to the type of hierarchical organizations that lead to war. War is largely a male activity. In fact, there is some correlation [between making war and] having an excess of males in the population. ~ Jaron Lanier,
167:This is basically a way of saying that the better your computer skills are, the more right you have to be a genuine individual in control of your own digital life. But we technologists ought to be serving mankind, not turning ourselves into a privileged class. ~ Jaron Lanier,
168:We should treat computers as fancy telephones, whose purpose is to connect people.... As long as we remember that we ourselves are the source of our value, our creativity, our sense of reality, then all of our work with computers will be worthwhile and beautiful. ~ Jaron Lanier,
169:Pop culture has entered into a nostalgic malaise. Online culture is dominated by trivial mashups of the culture that existed before the onset of mashups, and by fandom responding to the dwindling outposts of centralized mass media. It is a culture of reaction without action. ~ Jaron Lanier,
170:I have been around military technology people a lot because of my role in virtual reality I've seen weapons from conception to implementation. And there is an extraordinary gadget lust that drives the military. So it's possible that war is just the ultimate expression of creativity. ~ Jaron Lanier,
171:One of the main reasons to delete your social media accounts is that there isn’t a real choice to move to different social media accounts. Quitting entirely is the only option for change. If you don’t quit, you are not creating the space in which Silicon Valley can act to improve itself. ~ Jaron Lanier,
172:The wisdom of crowds works when the crowd is choosing the price of an ox, when there's a single numeric average. But if it's a design or something that matters, the decision is made by committee, and that's crap. You want people and groups who are able to think thoughts before they share ~ Jaron Lanier,
173:The salespeople trumpet their system’s ability to minutely model and target consumers as if they were Taliban in the crosshairs of a military drone. And yet, the same service, when it must simply detect if a user is underage, will turn out to be unable to counter the deceptions of children. ~ Jaron Lanier,
174:Right now it might seem draconian to charge for access to information we have come to expect for free, but it would feel very different if you knew what other people were also paying you at the same time for information service you have fractionally contributed to in the course of your life. ~ Jaron Lanier,
175:La tecnología etérea y digital que reemplazó a la imprenta ha alcanzado la mayoria de edad en un momento en que esta ideología lamentable que critico domina la cultura tecnológica. La autoría- la mismísima idea del punto de vista individual- no es una de las prioridades de la nueva ideología. ~ Jaron Lanier,
176:A file-sharing service and a hedge fund are essentially the same things. In both cases, there's this idea that whoever has the biggest computer can analyze everyone else to their advantage and concentrate wealth and power. It's shrinking the overall economy. I think it's the mistake of our age. ~ Jaron Lanier,
177:If there's any object in human experience that's a precedent for what a computer should be like, it's a musical instrument: a device where you can explore a huge range of possibilities through an interface that connects your mind and your body, allowing you to be emotionally authentic and expressive. ~ Jaron Lanier,
178:Every time we give a musician the advice to give away the music and sell the T-shirt, we're saying, "Don't make your living in this more elevated way. Instead, reverse this social progress, and choose a more physical way to make a living." We're sending them to peasanthood, very much like the Maoists have. ~ Jaron Lanier,
179:If market pricing is the only legitimate test of quality, why are we still bothering with proven theorems? Why don't we just have a vote on whether a theorem is true? To make it better we'll have everyone vote on it, especially the hundreds of millions of people who don't understand the math. Would that satisfy you? ~ Jaron Lanier,
180:My thoughts are more in line with those of Jaron Lanier, who points out that while hardware might be getting faster all the time, software is shit (I am paraphrasing his argument). And without software to do something useful with all that hardware, the hardware’s nothing more than a really complicated space heater. ~ Neal Stephenson,
181:Los bits se presentan como si estuvieran vivos, mientras que los humanos son fragmentos pasajeros. Todos los comentarios anónimos que aparecen en blosgs y vídeos deben haber sido obra de personas reales, pero ¿quién sabe dónde están ahora, o si están muertos?La colmena digital está creciendo a expensas de la individualidad. ~ Jaron Lanier,
182:I'd much rather see a world where, when you make some quirky comment on a blog or news story or you upload a video clip, instead of just a moment of fame for your pseudonym, you'll get 50 bucks. The first time that happens, you'll realise that you're a full-class citizen. You have the potential to make money from the system. ~ Jaron Lanier,
183:Here’s a non-geeky framing of the same idea: What if listening to an inner voice or heeding a passion for ethics or beauty were to lead to more important work in the long term, even if it measured as less successful in the moment? What if deeply reaching a small number of people matters more than reaching everybody with nothing? ~ Jaron Lanier,
184:If you want to know what’s really going on in a society or ideology, follow the money. If money is flowing to advertising instead of musicians, journalists, and artists, then a society is more concerned with manipulation than truth or beauty. If content is worthless, then people will start to become empty-headed and contentless. ~ Jaron Lanier,
185:Is war an inevitable outcome of competing interests in a complex society? In other words, would war be the same even if human nature were very different? There are mathematical models of large groups working together that lead to conflict on a reliable basis. So there's a whole other view of war that is not psychological at all. ~ Jaron Lanier,
186:One way is to directly monetize services such as search and social media. You’d pay a low monthly fee to use them, but if you contributed a lot—if your posts, videos, or whatever are popular—you could also earn some money. A large number of people, instead of the tiny number of token stars in the present system, would earn money. ~ Jaron Lanier,
187:America's Facebook generation shows a submission to standardization that I haven't seen before. The American adventure has always been about people forgetting their former selves - Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac went on the road. If they had a Facebook page, they wouldn't have been able to forget their former selves. ~ Jaron Lanier,
188:As information technology becomes millions of times more powerful, any particular use of it becomes correspondingly cheaper. Thus, it has become commonplace to expect online services (not just news, but 21st century treats like search or social networking) to be given for free, or rather, in exchange for acquiescence to being spied on. ~ Jaron Lanier,
189:The upheavals [of artificial intelligence] can escalate quickly and become scarier and even cataclysmic,” the New York Times tech columnist once wrote. “Imagine how a medical robot, originally programmed to rid cancer, could conclude that the best way to obliterate cancer is to exterminate humans who are genetically prone to the disease. ~ Jaron Lanier,
190:There were studies that asked people in different cultures to draw pictures of their enemies, and the pictures all looked remarkably the same. They always had exaggerated canine teeth and a certain sort of expression. That led to speculation about whether at an earlier stage in the human experience we were hunted by some sort of carnivore. ~ Jaron Lanier,
191:Human beings either function as individuals or as members of a pack. There's a switch inside us, deep in our spirit, that you can turn one way or the other. It's almost always the case that our worst behaviour comes out when we're switched to the mob setting. The problem with a lot of software designs is that they switch us to that setting. ~ Jaron Lanier,
192:The attribution of intelligence to machines, crowds of fragments, or other nerd deities obscures more than it illuminates. When people are told that a computer is intelligent, they become prone to changing themselves in order to make the computer appear to work better, instead of demanding that the computer be changed to become more useful. ~ Jaron Lanier,
193:Every power-seeking entity in the world, whether it is a government, a business, or an informal group, has gotten wise to the idea that if you can assemble information about other people, that information makes you powerful. By glorifying the tools that enable this trend as our channels of complaint, we are only amplifying our own predicament. ~ Jaron Lanier,
194:All over the world today people have a very strong desire to find a sense of identity, and at the same time that's coupled with the rise of absolutely absurd wars that relate to ethnic identity. Perhaps there is something deeply ingrained in people that relates to a sense of belonging, and without that, identity doesn't seem as real as it should. ~ Jaron Lanier,
195:What these critics forget is that printing presses in themselves provide no guarantee of an enlightened outcome. People, not machines, made the Renaissance. The printing that takes place in North Korea today, for instance, is nothing more than propaganda for a personality cult. What is important about printing presses is not the mechanism, but the authors. ~ Jaron Lanier,
196:If war stems from unmet needs related to male adolescent ritual, that's something that we need to examine. I'm interested in the possibility of simply getting rid of war. I'd be no more willing to let go of that than to let go of the possibility of eradicating cancer. That's not to say I'm certain we can, but I am willing to use any energy at all in the quest. ~ Jaron Lanier,
197:Some of the fantasy objects arising from cybernetic totalism (like the noosphere, which is a supposed global brain formed by the sum of all the human brains connected through the
internet) happen to motivate infelicitous technological designs.
For instance, designs that celebrate the noosphere tend to energize the inner troll, or bad actor, within humans. ~ Jaron Lanier,
198:It is impossible for us to completely enter the experiential world of the hunter-gatherer. It's almost impossible to conceive of the subjective texture of life before electricity. We can't quite fully know what we have lost as we become more technological, so we are in constant doubt of our own authenticity and vitality. This is a necessary side effect of our own survival. ~ Jaron Lanier,
199:On the ground rules of life are changed, you no longer have the ability to understand what you might have forgotten from a previous incarnation. No adult really knows what was lost in the process of growing up, because the adult brain cannot quite realize the mentality in which childhood memories are fully meaningful. With that level of change comes a kind of partial death. ~ Jaron Lanier,
200:The imbalanced power relationship is in your face all the time. Don’t you feel humiliated using one of the Facebook brands, like Instagram or WhatsApp? Facebook is the first public company controlled by one person.32 I mean, I don’t personally have anything against Mark Zuckerberg. It isn’t about him. But why would you subordinate a big part of your life to any one stranger? ~ Jaron Lanier,
201:A lot of potential Hillary voters were infused with a not-great feeling about Hillary, or about voting at all. Were you one of them? If so, please think back. Were you seeing any information customized for you before the election? Did you use Twitter or Facebook? Did you do a lot of online searches? You were had. You were tricked. Your best intentions were turned against you. ~ Jaron Lanier,
202:Once you can understand something in a way that you can shove it into a computer, you have cracked its code, transcended any particularity it might have at a given time. It was as if we had become the gods of vision and had effectively created all possible images, for they would merely be reshufflings of the bits in the computers we had before us, completely under our command. ~ Jaron Lanier,
203:The cloud is driven by statistics, and even in the worst individual cases of personal ignorance, dullness, idleness, or irrelevance, every person is constantly feeding data into the cloud these days. The value of such information could be treated as genuine, but it is not. Instead, the blindness of our standards of accounting to all that value is gradually breaking capitalism. ~ Jaron Lanier,
204:In history, in most cultures, and at most points in time, if you want to find the most advanced technologies, you can look principally in two places. One is weapons and the other is musical instruments. My hypothesis is that instruments are usually ahead of weapons. In fact, I think you can find many examples of instruments being predecessors of weapons and very few in the reverse. ~ Jaron Lanier,
205:¿Ese buscador sabe realmente lo que queremos, o estamos siguiendo el juego, bajando nuestro nivel de exigencia para que el buscador parezca inteligente? Mientras se espera que el contacto con nuevas tecnologías avanzadas cambie la perspectiva humana, el ejercicio de tratar la inteligencia de las máquinas como si fuera real requiere que las personas reduzcan su conexión con la realidad ~ Jaron Lanier,
206:Memes might seem to amplify what you are saying, but that is always an illusion. You might launch an infectious meme about a political figure, and you might be making a great point, but in the larger picture, you are reinforcing the idea that virality is truth. Your point will be undone by whatever other point is more viral. That is by design. The architects of BUMMER were meme believers. ~ Jaron Lanier,
207:The problem I have with socialist utopias is there's some kind of committees trying to soften outcomes for people. I think that imposes models of outcomes for other people's lives. So in a spiritual sense there's some bit of libertarian in me. But the critical thing for me is moderation. And if you let that go far you do end up with a winner-take-all society that ultimately crushes everybody even worse. ~ Jaron Lanier,
208:The better analogy is paint that contains lead. When it became undeniable that lead was harmful, no one declared that houses should never be painted again. Instead after pressure and legislation, lead-free paints became the new standard. Smart people simply waited to buy paint until there was a safe version on sale. Similarly, smart people should delete their accounts until nontoxic varieties are available. ~ Jaron Lanier,
209:hate raining on dreams, but if you think you are about to make a living as an influencer or similar, the statistics are voraciously against you, no matter how deserving you are and no matter how many get-rich-quick stories you’ve been fed.5 The problem isn’t that there are only a few stars; that’s always true, by definition. The problem is that BUMMER economics allow for almost no remunerative roles for near-stars. ~ Jaron Lanier,
210:Usually Google has had a way of coming up with the creepier statements, but Facebook has pulled ahead: A recent revision in its statement of purpose includes directives like assuring that “every single person has a sense of purpose and community.”5 A single company is going to see to it that every single person has a purpose, because it presumes that was lacking before. If that is not a new religion, I don’t know what is. ~ Jaron Lanier,
211:Trying to create an overly flattened society inevitably and unintentionally creates new centers of power. A revolution might dethrone the old rich, but only at the expense of empaneling an unchallenged communist party, along with a politburo and legions of clever schemers and ass kissers who turn into a new privileged class. The right way to deal with concentrations of power is not to try to vaporize them, but to balance them. ~ Jaron Lanier,
212:The Facebook business model is mass behavior modification for pay. And for those who are not giving Facebook money, the only — and I want to emphasize, the only, underlined and in bold and italics — reward they can get or positive feedback is just getting attention. And if you have a system where the only possible prize is getting more attention, then you call that system Christmas for Asses, right? It’s a creep-amplification device. ~ Jaron Lanier,
213:Digital technologies are setting down the new grooves of how people live, how we do business, how we do everything--and they're doing it according to the expectations of foolish utopian scenarios. We want free online experiences so badly that we are happy to not be paid for information that comes from us now or ever. That sensibility also implies that the more dominant information becomes in our economy, the less most of us will be worth. ~ Jaron Lanier,
214:You don't need to remind me how easy it is to slough off and become lazy. Oh, I know how sweet the temptation is.
So modernity has brought with it an endless internal mental conflict between stern, rather parental inner voices and lazy childish ones. Unfortunately, these two voices, which have functioned as opposites, checking each other for centuries, have been confounded into idiotic agreement and collusion with the appearance of digital network technology. ~ Jaron Lanier,
215:When you use BUMMER, you implicitly accept a new spiritual framework. It is like the EULA agreement—the user agreement—that you clicked “OK” on without reading. You have agreed to change something intimate about your relationship with your soul. If you use BUMMER, you have probably, to some degree, statistically speaking, effectively renounced what you might think is your religion, even if that religion is atheism. You have been inducted into a new spiritual framework. ~ Jaron Lanier,
216:One way is to directly monetize services such as search and social media. You’d pay a low monthly fee to use them, but if you contributed a lot—if your posts, videos, or whatever are popular—you could also earn some money. A large number of people, instead of the tiny number of token stars in the present system, would earn money. (I acknowledge, of course, that there would have to be a way of making services available to those who couldn’t afford to pay even a small fee.) ~ Jaron Lanier,
217:Some have compared social media to the tobacco industry,5 but I will not. The better analogy is paint that contains lead. When it became undeniable that lead was harmful, no one declared that houses should never be painted again. Instead, after pressure and legislation, lead-free paints became the new standard.6 Smart people simply waited to buy paint until there was a safe version on sale. Similarly, smart people should delete their accounts until nontoxic varieties are available. ~ Jaron Lanier,
218:Back in the 1980s, when the internet was only available to a small number of pioneers, I was often confronted by people who feared that the strange technologies I was working on, like virtual reality, might unleash the demons of human nature. For instance, would people become addicted to virtual reality as if it were a drug? Would they become trapped in it, unable to escape back to the physical world where the rest of us live? Some of the questions were silly, and others were prescient. ~ Jaron Lanier,
219:Information wants to be free.' So goes the saying. Stewart Brand, the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, seems to have said it first.I say that information doesn't deserve to be free.Cybernetic totalists love to think of the stuff as if it were alive and had its own ideas and ambitions. But what if information is inanimate? What if it's even less than inanimate, a mere artifact of human thought? What if only humans are real, and information is not?...Information is alienated experience. ~ Jaron Lanier,
220:BUMMER is a machine with six moving parts. Here’s a mnemonic for the six components of the BUMMER machine, in case you ever have to remember them for a test: A is for Attention Acquisition leading to Asshole supremacy B is for Butting into everyone’s lives C is for Cramming content down people’s throats D is for Directing people’s behaviors in the sneakiest way possible E is for Earning money from letting the worst assholes secretly screw with everyone else F is for Fake mobs and Faker society ~ Jaron Lanier,
221:At the turn of the [21st] century it was really Sergey Brin at Google who just had the thought of, well, if we give away all the information services, but we make money from advertising, we can make information free and still have capitalism. But the problem with that is it reneges on the social contract where people still participate in the formal economy. And it's a kind of capitalism that's totally self-defeating because it's so narrow. It's a winner-take-all capitalism that's not sustaining. ~ Jaron Lanier,
222:Making information free is survivable so long as only limited numbers of people are disenfranchised. As much as it pains me to say so, we can survive if we only destroy the middle classes of musicians, journalists, and photographers. What is not survivable is the additional destruction of the middle classes in transportation, manufacturing, energy, office work, education, and health care. And all that destruction will come surely enough if the dominant idea of an information economy isn't improved. ~ Jaron Lanier,
223:A fashionable idea in technical circles is that quantity not only turns into quality at some extreme of scale, but also does so according to principles we already understand. Some of my colleagues think a million, or perhaps a billion, fragmentary insults will eventually yield wisdom that surpasses that of any well-thought-out essay, so long as sophisticated secret statistical algorithms recombine the fragments. I disagree. A trope from the early days of computer science comes to mind: garbage in, garbage out. ~ Jaron Lanier,
224:It’s random that BUMMER favored the Republicans over the Democrats in U.S. politics, but it isn’t random that BUMMER favored the most irritable, authoritarian, paranoid, and tribal Republicans.14 All those qualities are equally available on the left. If a U.S. version of Hugo Chavez had come along, he could have been president. Maybe it will happen in the future. Yuck. As a lefty, I don’t think a BUMMER-style lefty leader would be any better than Trump. Debasement is debasement, whatever direction it comes from. ~ Jaron Lanier,
225:Here’s a current example of the challenge we face. At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 140,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only thirteen people. Where did all those jobs disappear to? And what happened to the wealth that all those middle-class jobs created? ~ Jaron Lanier,
226:Lo que las redes sociales hicieron entonces, y lo que hacen siempre, es crear ilusiones: de que podemos mejorar la sociedad con solo desearlo; de que las personas más sensatas saldrían ganadoras en las contiendas; y de que, de alguna manera, la cuestión del bienestar material se resolvería sola. Lo que sucede en realidad, siempre, es que los espejismos se disipan cuando ya es demasiado tarde, y el mundo lo heredan las personas más toscas, egoístas e ignorantes. Aquel que no sea un idiota será quien peor parado salga. ~ Jaron Lanier,
227:Information wants to be free.' So goes the saying. Stewart Brand, the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, seems to have said it first.

I say that information doesn't deserve to be free.

Cybernetic totalists love to think of the stuff as if it were alive and had its own ideas and ambitions. But what if information is inanimate? What if it's even less than inanimate, a mere artifact of human thought? What if only humans are real, and information is not?

...

Information is alienated experience. ~ Jaron Lanier,
228:One of the world’s great human rights catastrophes—unfolding as I write—is the plight of the Rohingya population of Myanmar. As it turns out, this crisis corresponded to the arrival of Facebook, which was quickly inundated by shitposts aimed at the Rohingya.3 At the same time, viral lies about child abductions, in that case mostly on Facebook’s WhatsApp, have destabilized parts of India.4 According to a United Nations report, social media is also a massively deadly weapon, literally, in South Sudan—because of shitposts.5 ~ Jaron Lanier,
229:When social media companies are paid directly by users instead of by hidden third parties, then they will serve those users. It’s so simple. Someone will be able to pay to see poisonous propaganda, but they won’t be able to pay to have that poison directed at someone else. The incentive for poisoning the world will be undone. I won’t have an account on Facebook, Google, or Twitter until I can pay for it—and I unambiguously own and set the price for using my data, and it’s easy and normal to earn money if my data is valuable. ~ Jaron Lanier,
230:We must learn to see the full picture, and not just the treats before our eyes. Our trendy gadgets, such as smartphones and tablets, have given us new access to the world. We regularly communicate with people we would never even have been aware of before the networked age. We can find information about almost anything at any time. But we have learned how much our gadgets and out idealistically motivated digital networks are being used to spy on us by ultrapowerful, remote organizations. We are being dissected more than we dissect. ~ Jaron Lanier,
231:To state it as clearly as I can: I am part of what I criticize. I benefit from time to time by actively participating in the schemes I would like to see ended; it happens as a side effect of doing the things I love to do. However, I don't want to become an academic or remote observer of tech events. My choice is to be engaged even if that means I am tainted. I live with contradictions, in accordance with the human condition, but do my best not to forget what absurdities are involved. What I can offer is being open about what I think. ~ Jaron Lanier,
232:Individual web pages as they first appeared in the early 1990s had the flavour of person-hood. MySpace preserved some of that flavour, though a process of regularized formatting had begun. Facebook went further, organizing people into multiple-choice identities while Wikipedia seeks to erase point of view entirely. If a church or government were doing these things, it would feel authoritarian, but when technologists are the culprits, we seem hip, fresh, and inventive. People accept ideas presented in technological form that would be abhorrent in any other forms ~ Jaron Lanier,
233:I had an epiphany once that I wish I could stimulate in everyone else. The plausibility of our human world, the fact that the buildings don’t all fall down and you can eat unpoisoned food that someone grew, is immediate palpable evidence of an ocean of goodwill and good behavior from almost everyone, living or dead. We are bathed in what can be called love. And yet that love shows itself best through the constraints of civilization, because those constraints compensate for the flaws of human nature. We must see ourselves honestly, and engage ourselves realistically, in order to become better. ~ Jaron Lanier,
234:I had an epiphany once that I wish I could stimulate in everyone else. The plausibility of our human world, the fact that the buildings don't all fall down and you can eat up poisoned food that someone grew, is immediately palpable evidence of an ocean of goodwill and good behavior from almost everyone, living or dead. We are bathed in what we can all love.

And yet that love shows itself best through the constraints of civilization, because those constraints compensate for the flaws of human nature. We must see ourselves honestly, and engage ourselves realistically, in order to become better. ~ Jaron Lanier,
235:The most effective young Facebook users, however — the ones who will probably be winners if Facebook turns out to be a model of the future they will inhabit as adults — are the ones who create successful online fictions about themselves.

They tend their doppelgängers fastidiously. They must manage offhand remarks and track candid snapshots at parties as carefully as a politician. Insincerity is rewarded, while sincerity creates a lifelong taint. Certainly, some version of this principle existed in the lives of teenagers before the web came along, but not with such unyielding, clinical precision. ~ Jaron Lanier,
236:The Internet has created the most precise mirror of people as a whole that we've yet had. It is not a summary prepared by a social scientist or an elite think tank. It is not the hagiography of an era, condensed by a romantic idealist or a sneering cynic. It is the real us, available for direct inspection for the first time. Our collective window shades are now open. We see the mundanity, the avarice, the ugliness, the perversity, the loneliness, the love, the inspiration, the serendipity, and the tenderness that manifest in humanity. Seen in proportion, we can breathe a sigh of relief. We are basically OK. ~ Jaron Lanier,
237:The Internet has created the most precise mirror of people as a whole that we've yet had. It is not a summary prepared by a social scientist or an elite think tank. It is not the hagiography of an era, condensed by a romantic idealist or a sneering cynic. It is the real us, available for direct inspection for the first time. Our collective window shades are now open. We see the mundanity, the avarice, the ugliness, the perversity, the loneliness, the love, the inspiration, the serendipity, and the tenderness that manifest in humanity. Seen in proportion, we can breathe a sigh of relief. We are basically OK.

- Jaron Lanier ~ Jaron Lanier,
238:Around the turn of the century Amazon was caught up in a controversy about “differential pricing.” Essentially this means that an online site might charge you more for given items than it charges other people, like your neighbors.2 Amazon stated at the time that it was not really discrimination, but experimentation. It was offering different prices to different people to see what they would pay. There is nothing special about Amazon in this regard. Another example is the travel site Orbitz, which was found to be directing users of more expensive computers to more expensive travel options.3 Who could be surprised? It is natural for a business to take ~ Jaron Lanier,
239:the advertising business model. Advertising would allow search to be free, music to be free, and news to be free. (That didn’t mean that musicians or reporters got a piece of the pie, for the techies considered them replaceable.) Advertising would become the dominant business in the information era. This didn’t feel dystopian at first. The original ads on Google were cute and harmless. But as the internet, the devices, and the algorithms advanced, advertising inevitably morphed into mass behavior modification. This is how BUMMER was born. As often happens with people, we forgot that we made a choice. Now we feel helpless. But the choice remains, and we can remake it. ~ Jaron Lanier,
240:Here’s a current example of the challenge we face. At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 140,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only thirteen people. Where did all those jobs disappear to? And what happened to the wealth that those middle-class jobs created? This book is built to answer questions like these, which will only become more common as digital networking hollows out every industry, from media to medicine to manufacturing. ~ Jaron Lanier,
241:An endless series of gambits backed by gigantic investments encouraged young people entering the online world for the first time to create standardized presences on sites like Facebook. Commercial interests promoted the widespread adoption of standardized designs like the blog, and these designs encouraged pseudonymity in at least some aspects of their designs, such as comments, instead of the proud extroversion that characterized the first wave of web culture.

Instead of people being treated as the sources of their own creativity, commercial aggregation and abstraction sites presented anonymized fragments of creativity as products that might have fallen from the sky or been dug up from the ground, obscuring the true sources. ~ Jaron Lanier,
242:Turing presented his new offering in the form of a thought experiment, based on a popular Victorian parlor game. A man and a woman hide, and a judge is asked to determine which is which by relying only on the texts of notes passed back and forth.

Turing replaced the woman with a computer. Can the judge tell which is the man? If not, is the computer conscious? Intelligent? Does it deserve equal rights?

It's impossible for us to know what role the torture Turing was enduring at the time played in his formulation of the test. But it is undeniable that one of the key figures in the defeat of fascism was destroyed, by our side, after the war, because he was gay. No wonder his imagination pondered the rights of strange creatures. ~ Jaron Lanier,
243:This digital revolutionary still believes in most of the lovely deep ideals that energized our work so many years ago. At the core was a sweet faith in human nature. If we empowered individuals, we believed, more good than harm would result.

The way the internet has gone sour since then is truly perverse. The central faith of the web's early design has been superseded by a different faith in the centrality of imaginary entities epitomized by the idea that the internet as a whole is coming alive and turning into a superhuman creature.

The designs guided by this new, perverse kind of faith put people back in the shadows. The fad for anonymity has undone the great opening-of-everyone's-windows of the 1990s. While that reversal has empowered sadists to a degree, the worst effect is a degradation of ordinary people. ~ Jaron Lanier,
244:When I work with experimental gadgets, like new variations on virtual reality, in a lab environment, I am always reminded of how small changes in the details of a digital design can have profound unforeseen effects on the experiences of the humans who are playing with it. The slightest change in something as seemingly trivial as the use of a button can sometimes completely alter behavior patterns.

For instance, Stanford University researcher Jeremy Bailenson has demonstrated that changing the height of one's avatar in immersive virtual reality transforms self-esteem and social self-perception. Technologies are extensions of ourselves, and, like the avatars in Jeremy's lab, our identities can be shifted by the quirks of gadgets. It is impossible to work with information technology without also engaging in social engineering. ~ Jaron Lanier,
245:At the same time, it is important to remember that nostalgia for lower-tech times is based on fake memories. This is as true in the small scale of centuries as it is in the vast scale of life. Every genetic feature of you, from the crook of the corner of your eye to much of the way your body moves when you listen to music, was framed and formed by the negative spaces carved out by the pre-reproductive deaths of your would-be ancestors over hundreds of millions years. You are the reverse image of inconceivable epochs of heartbreak and cruelty. Your would-be ancestors in their many species, reaching back into the phylogenetic tree, were eaten, often by diseases, or sexually rejected before they could contribute genes to your legacy. The genetic, natural part of you is the sum of the leftovers of billions of years of extreme violence and poverty. Modernity is precisely the way individuals arose out of the ravages of evolutionary selection. ~ Jaron Lanier,
246:Zombies are familiar characters in philosophical thought experiments. They are like people in every way except they have no internal experience....
If there are enough zombies recruited into our world, I worry about the potential for a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe if people pretend they are not conscious or do not have free will - or that the cloud of online people is a person; if they pretend there is nothing special about the perspective of the individual - then perhaps we have the power to make it so. We might be able to collectively achieve antimagic.
Humans are free. We can commmit suicide for the benefit of a Singularity. We can engineer our genes to better support an imaginary hive mind. We can make culture and journalism into second-rate activities and spend centuries remixing the detritus of the 1960s and other eras from before individual creativity went out of fashion.
Or we can believe in ourselves. By chance, it might turn out we are real. ~ Jaron Lanier,
247:Something like missionary reductionism has happened to the internet with the rise of web 2.0. The strangeness is being leached away by the mush-making process. Individual web pages as they first appeared in the early 1990S had the flavor of personhood. MySpace preserved some of that flavor, though a process of regularized formatting had begun. Facebook went further, organizing people into multiple-choice identities, while Wikipedia seeks to erase point of view entirely.

If a church or government were doing these things, it would feel authoritarian, but when technologists are the culprits, we seem hip, fresh, and inventive. People will accept ideas presented in technological form that would be abhorrent in any other form. It is utterly strange to hear my many old friends in the world of digital culture claim to be the true sons of the Renaissance without realizing that using computers to reduce individual expression is a primitive, retrograde activity, no matter how sophisticated your tools are. ~ Jaron Lanier,
248:There are at least two ways to believe in the idea of quality. You can believe there's something ineffable going on within the human mind, or you can believe we just don't understand what quality in a mind is yet, even though we might someday. Either of those opinions allows one to distinguish quantity and quality. In order to confuse quantity and quality, you have to reject both possibilities. The mere possibility of there being something ineffable about personhood is what drives many technologists to reject the notion of quality. They want to live in an airtight reality that resembles an idealized computer program, in which everything is understood and there are no fundamental mysteries. They recoil from even the hint of a potential zone of mystery or an unresolved seam in one's worldview. This desire for absolute order usually leads to tears in human affairs, so there is a historical reason to distrust it. Materialist extremists have long seemed determined to win a race with religious fanatics: Who can do the most damage to the most people? ~ Jaron Lanier,
249:It might sound undesirable to someday have to pay for things that are currently free, but remember, you’d also be able to make money from those things. And paying for stuff sometimes really does make the world better for everyone. Techies who advocated a free/open future used to argue that paying for movies or TV was a terrible thing, and that the culture of the future would be made of volunteerism, with the digital distribution funded by advertising, of course. This was practically a religious belief in Silicon Valley when the big BUMMER companies were founded. It was sacrilege to challenge it. But then companies like Netflix and HBO convinced people to pay a monthly fee, and the result is what is often called “peak TV.” Why couldn’t there also be an era of paid “peak social media” and “peak search”? Watch the end credits on a movie on Netflix or HBO. It’s good discipline for lengthening your attention span! Look at all those names scrolling by. All those people who aren’t stars made their rent by working to bring you that show. BUMMER only supports stars. ~ Jaron Lanier,
250:The reason [James Clerk] Maxwell's Demon cannot exist is that it does take resources to perform an act of discrimination. We imagine computation is free, but it never is. The very act of choosing which particle is cold or hot itself becomes an energy drain and a source of waste heat. The principle is also known as "no free lunch."
We do our best to implement Maxwell's Demon whenever we manipulate reality with our technologies, but we can never do so perfectly; we certainly can't get ahead of the game, which is known as entropy. All the air conditioners in a city emit heat that makes the city hotter overall. While you can implement what seems to be a Maxwell's Demon if you don't look too far or too closely, in the big picture you always lose more than you gain.
Every bit in a computer is a wannabe Maxwell's Demon, separating the state of "one" from the state of "zero" for a while, at a cost. A computer on a network can also act like a wannabe demon if it tries to sort data from networked people into one or the other side of some imaginary door, while pretending there is no cost or risk involved. ~ Jaron Lanier,
251:Distributions can only be based on measurements, but as in the case of measuring intelligence, the nature of measurement is often complicated and troubled by ambiguities. Consider the problem of noise, or what is known as luck in human affairs. Since the rise of the new digital economy, around the turn of the century, there has been a distinct heightening of obsessions with contests like American Idol, or other rituals in which an anointed individual will suddenly become rich and famous. When it comes to winner-take-all contests, onlookers are inevitably fascinated by the role of luck. Yes, the winner of a singing contest is good enough to be the winner, but even the slightest flickering of fate might have changed circumstances to make someone else the winner. Maybe a different shade of makeup would have turned the tables. And yet the rewards of winning and losing are vastly different. While some critics might have aesthetic or ethical objections to winner-take-all outcomes, a mathematical problem with them is that noise is amplified. Therefore, if a societal system depends too much on winner-take-all contests, then the acuity of that system will suffer. It will become less reality-based. ~ Jaron Lanier,
252:The intentions of the cybernetic totalist tribe are good. They are simply following a path that was blazed in earlier times by well-meaning Freudians and Marxists - and I don't mean that in a pejorative way. I'm thinking of the earliest incarnations of Marxism, for instance, before
Stalinism and Maoism killed millions.

Movements associated with Freud and Marx both claimed foundations in rationality and the scientific understanding of the world. Both perceived themselves to be at war with the weird, manipulative fantasies of religions. And yet both invented their own fantasies that were just as weird.

The same thing is happening again. A self-proclaimed materialist movement that attempts to base itself on science starts to look like a religion rather quickly. It soon presents its own eschatology and its own revelations about what is really going on - portentous events that no one but the initiated can appreciate. The Singularity and the noosphere, the idea that a collective consciousness emerges from all the users on the web, echo Marxist social determinism and Freud's calculus of perversions. We rush ahead of skeptical, scientific inquiry at our peril, just like the Marxists and Freudians. ~ Jaron Lanier,
253:A file on a hard disk does indeed contain information of the kind that objectively exists. The fact that the bits are discernible instead of being scrambled into mush - the way heat scrambles things - is what makes them bits.

But if the bits can potentially mean something to someone, they can only do so if they are experienced. When that happens, a commonality of culture is enacted between the storer and the retriever of the bits. Experience is the only process that can de-alienate information.

Information of the kind that purportedly wants to be free is nothing but a shadow of our own minds, and wants nothing on its own. It will not suffer if it doesn't get what it wants.

But if you want to make the transition from the old religion, where you hope God will give you an afterlife, to the new religion, where you hope to become immortal by getting uploaded into a computer, then you have to believe information is real and alive. So for you, it will be important to redesign human institutions like art, the economy, and the law to reinforce the perception that information is alive. You demand that the rest of us live in your new conception of a state religion. You need us to deify information to reinforce your faith. ~ Jaron Lanier,
254:But the Turing test cuts both ways. You can't tell if a machine has gotten smarter or if you've just lowered your own standards of intelligence to such a degree that the machine seems smart. If you can have a conversation with a simulated person presented by an AI program, can you tell how far you've let your sense of personhood degrade in order to make the illusion work for you?

People degrade themselves in order to make machines seem smart all the time. Before the crash, bankers believed in supposedly intelligent algorithms that could calculate credit risks before making bad loans. We ask teachers to teach to standardized tests so a student will look good to an algorithm. We have repeatedly demonstrated our species' bottomless ability to lower our standards to make information technology look good. Every instance of intelligence in a machine is ambiguous.

The same ambiguity that motivated dubious academic AI projects in the past has been repackaged as mass culture today. Did that search engine really know what you want, or are you playing along, lowering your standards to make it seem clever? While it's to be expected that the human perspective will be changed by encounters with profound new technologies, the exercise of treating machine intelligence as real requires people to reduce their mooring to reality. ~ Jaron Lanier,
255:The Enlightenment emphasized ways of learning that weren’t subservient to human power hierarchies. Instead, Enlightenment thinking celebrates evidence-based scientific method and reasoning. The cultures of sciences and engineering used to embrace Enlightenment epistemology, but now they have been overridden by horribly regressive BUMMER epistemology. You probably know the word “meme” as meaning a BUMMER posting that can go viral. But originally, “meme” suggested a philosophy of thought and meaning. The term was coined by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Dawkins proposed memes as units of culture that compete and are either passed along or not, according to a pseudo-Darwinian selection process. Thus some fashions, ideas, and habits take hold, while others become extinct. The concept of memes provides a way of framing everything non-nerds do—the whole of humanities, culture, arts, and politics—as similar instances of meme competition, mere subroutines of a higher-level algorithm that nerds can master. When the internet took of, Dawkins’s ideas were in vogue, because they flattered techies. There was a ubiquitous genre of internet appreciation from the very beginning in which someone would point out the viral spread of a meme and admire how cute that was. The genre exists to this day. Memes started out as a way of expressing solidarity with a philosophy I used to call cybernetic totalism that still underlies BUMMER. Memes might seem to amplify what you are saying, but that is always an illusion. You might launch an infectious meme about a political figure, and you might be making a great point, but in the larger picture, you are reinforcing the idea that virality is truth. Your point will be undone by whatever other point is more viral. That is by design. The architects of BUMMER were meme believers. ~ Jaron Lanier,
256:The approach to digital culture I abhor would indeed turn all the world's books into one book, just as Kevin (Kelly) suggested. It might start to happen in the next decade or so. Google and other companies are scanning library books into the cloud in a massive Manhattan Project of cultural digitization. What happens next is what's important. If the books in the cloud are accessed via user interfaces that encourage mashups of fragments that obscure the context and authorship of each fragment, there will be only one book. This is what happens today with a lot of content; often you don't know where a quoted fragment from a news story came from, who wrote a comment, or who shot a video. A continuation of the present trend will make us like various medieval religious empires, or like North Korea, a society with a single book.

The Bible can serve as a prototypical example. Like Wikipedia, the Bible's authorship was shared, largely anonymous, and cumulative, and the obscurity of the individual authors served to create an oracle-like ambience for the document as "the literal word of God." If we take a non-metaphysical view of the Bible, it serves as a link to our ancestors, a window. The ethereal, digital replacement technology for the printing press happens to have come of age in a time when the unfortunate ideology I'm criticizing dominates technological culture. Authorship - the very idea of the individual point of view - is not a priority of the new ideology. The digital flattening of expression into a global mush is not presently enforced from the top down, as it is in the case of a North Korean printing press. Instead, the design of software builds the ideology into those actions that are the easiest to perform on the software designs that are becoming ubiquitous. It is true that by using these tools, individuals can author books or blogs or whatever, but people are encouraged by the economics of free content, crowd dynamics, and lord aggregators to serve up fragments instead of considered whole expressions or arguments. The efforts of authors are appreciated in a manner that erases the boundaries between them.

The one collective book will absolutely not be the same thing as the library of books by individuals it is bankrupting. Some believe it will be better; others, including me, believe it will be disastrously worse. As the famous line goes from Inherit the Wind: 'The Bible is a book... but it is not the only book' Any singular, exclusive book, even the collective one accumulating in the cloud, will become a cruel book if it is the only one available. ~ Jaron Lanier,
257:An imaginary circle of empathy is drawn by each person. It circumscribes the person at some distance, and corresponds to those things in the world that deserve empathy. I like the term "empathy" because it has spiritual overtones. A term like "sympathy" or "allegiance" might be more precise, but I want the chosen term to be slightly mystical, to suggest that we might not be able to fully understand what goes on between us and others, that we should leave open the possibility that the relationship can't be represented in a digital database.

If someone falls within your circle of empathy, you wouldn't want to see him or her killed. Something that is clearly outside the circle is fair game. For instance, most people would place all other people within the circle, but most of us are willing to see bacteria killed when we brush our
teeth, and certainly don't worry when we see an inanimate rock tossed aside to keep a trail clear.

The tricky part is that some entities reside close to the edge of the circle. The deepest controversies often involve whether something or someone should lie just inside or just outside the circle. For instance, the idea of slavery depends on the placement of the slave outside the circle, to make some people nonhuman. Widening the circle to include all people and end slavery has been one of the epic strands of the human story - and it isn't quite over yet.

A great many other controversies fit well in the model. The fight over abortion asks whether a fetus or embryo should be in the circle or not, and the animal rights debate asks the same about animals.

When you change the contents of your circle, you change your conception of yourself. The center of the circle shifts as its perimeter is changed. The liberal impulse is to expand the circle, while conservatives tend to want to restrain or even contract the circle.

Empathy Inflation and Metaphysical Ambiguity

Are there any legitimate reasons not to expand the circle as much as possible?

There are.

To expand the circle indefinitely can lead to oppression, because the rights of potential entities (as perceived by only some people) can conflict with the rights of indisputably real people. An obvious example of this is found in the abortion debate. If outlawing abortions did not involve commandeering control of the bodies of other people (pregnant women, in this case), then there wouldn't be much controversy. We would find an easy accommodation.

Empathy inflation can also lead to the lesser, but still substantial, evils of incompetence, trivialization, dishonesty, and narcissism. You cannot live, for example, without killing bacteria. Wouldn't you be projecting your own fantasies on single-cell organisms that would be indifferent to them at best? Doesn't it really become about you instead of the cause at that point? ~ Jaron Lanier,

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