In his new book, Who Owns The Future, author Jason Lanier claims that the present structure of the world-wide web, the internet, where information is free is leading to the loss of a middle class and will produce a stagnate economy. He is concerned about “fake free” and “fake ownership.” His basic premise is that structuring the net to be free will reward a few big server owners and leave the rest of us in poverty both of which will not produce a growing economy.
To continue the free internet, according to Lanier, is a new form of feudalism. “Free” ultimately means someone else will determine how we live. The present system is unsustainable.
“Information”, the raw material of the internet, is all that will matter in the economy of the future. Manufacturing will not be a job creator since most things made will be produced by 3D printers. All ordinary folks will have to take part in the economy is information. Lanier says you should be paid for the information you put on Facebook and other big servers and, in turn, you should pay for information you receive from the internet. Otherwise there will be no significant economic activity. That’s what this geek says.
Lanier sees a humanistic information economy in which you are a paid a nano amount for everything you share now for free. As it is now, you share for no monetary reward and the server owner benefits big time. He thinks the present trend leads to a foolish Utopian scenario. The author cites the music industry as an example of what happens when downloading is free. There are no more records or discs to be purchased and so musicians make little from recordings of their music.
Lanier claims that the internet has destroyed more jobs than it has created and that this trend will continue. He speculates a lot about teaching and says knowledge will no longer be hid in dungeons waiting to be released by teachers.
There are whole chapters in the book about the social and financial aspects of the present system: how big computers can track your every move and how personal needs and wants change over time due to information shared; how robots will take over most tasks even care of the elderly!
The author considers his book a work of science fiction and some will treat it as fiction but the author sees it as a vision for a more humanistic economy. It is far out thinking but so is his idea of addressing the question of earthquakes by suggesting we “glue” faults in populated areas and create new ones under oceans. He thinks big.
The book ends by talking about Klout a web page where one can determine one’s digital clout by determining the number and effectiveness of personal digital interventions such as “likes” on Facebook. BTW, Obama has a score of 99.