Jaron Lanier – You Are Not A Gadget

Digital guru Jaron Lanier delivers a call to arms against digital collectivism and proposes additional productive methods technologies could possibly interact with our tradition.



  • 23:40 is Gold! for artists especially. Then this…"A person of goodwill who has found value in ideas beyond the content of the ideas has found value in the form of identity, connection with others or simply a means of perceiving what they view as the warmth and good of the world…takes 10 to 20 years to change those ideas…they go on deep end of ideas (religion,collectivism..)" 16:00. Avoiding computer based god. …and 35:45 Yay, bridging the gap!  …40:00 Sad about kids on FB being denied forgetfulness , they get personality permanence.

  • I'm reading his book in college for CS class. He is boss.

  • Lanier makes a critical point in his consumer/producer statement. To me, it's the crux of the issue. Consumerism is ingrained in the US, becoming a producer has been lost. In many parts of the world (especially "third world") it is the opposite. I do see the Internet and current tech swinging this back into balance marginally. I see more people being able to access markets for sales, but the outright consumerist nature of the current US economy is going to take more than one generation to undo.

  • no he doesnt, he just wants to play instruments and have the plebs listen to him, quote hannah arendt, stop filesharing and force us all into his propietary virtual reality

  • Lanier knows that the real world is not realized in the rational world of the digital computer. The digital heart is not the real heart; digital weather is not real weather cum more and more strange architectures and more and BIGGER data arrives.

  • Alan Watts rules. Highly recommended.

  • It's an interesting philosophical device. The problem is when people think that it will happen in their lifetimes, they end up denying reality.

  • and what is wrong with that…?

  • This guy has many good points but I can't help but notice how all his convictions go back to bashing Transhumanism.

  • I made some typos, and chopped the gramm to make things fit better, sorry, maybe a bad idea. I also made things too simple, and didn't mention exceptions, and how a certain degree of innovation certainly can come out of open source, we are each year seeing models for profit via digital media gaining traction (e.g. iTunes, hulu, some movement by youtube to reward creators). And *some* creators probably will find free media promoting concerts/t-shirts to be best for THEM, especially at first.

  • Lanier suggests that it would be a good idea to get off of this path, in which content aggregators (like "search", and other places get ad revenue for free content) and the companies building the physical machines (increasingly by robot, as we move forward) receive an overwhelming concentration of the profits. While creators are shut out of the profit model every time their work can be digitized (& thus distributed for free at a far greater rate than in the days of cassette tapes, for example).

  • Anyhw, one more point to make about the benefits of "payment" for creativity that can be digitized (books, games, software, music, film/TV, lecture, etc.) is that people can get rewarded for skill at those things, or sharing experience. This sort of content is a major reason why people buy computers, flash drives, pay internet providers, have a flat screen, smart-phone, use google, etc. Those hardware companies and internet service companies (incl. search) make money off the content.

  • There's an appeal to getting ideas for free, of course. There's a big debate about copyright, megaUpload, etc. that's been going on for a while, and Lanier is certainly interested in it. He makes some points about the weaknesses of "open source" work, but I can't nail it down in this little chat box. For example, though, innovation isn't something promoted by open source (Wikipedia/Linux, for example, are basically copies of things people originally got paid to make: encyclopedias and UNIX).

  • To begin with, I'm sure would not want to PREVENT people from sharing ideas for free. However, it should be a choice, something we have control over. And some form of payment would be useful, in this regard. We could only directly "exchange" ideas if we were interested in each other's ideas. More often, I have a use for someone's idea, and they have a use for another person's idea, and (hopefully!) someone has a use for my idea.

  • This comment was 6 months ago, so I don't know if your thinking is still the same now, but you've actually demonstrated the concern that I have that I think Lanier is talking about too, and that is the "nothing else matters" bit. Defining humanity by its intelligence alone, which collectively we currently define as its ability to achieve outcomes, dismisses a whole segment of humanity that directs which outcomes we seek. Words like compassion and creativity belong to the segment I'm speaking of.

  • Absolutely. Right now there seems to be a clear distinction in the collective story between "technology" and "nature". At a philosophical level I don't see this as valid, but the systemic level does continue to promote this view by focusing technological development and implementation in a way that painfully ignores a large chunk of what it means to be human, and to be alive. The fundamental difference between pharmaceutical medicine and traditional holistic medicine is a great demonstration.

  • I can't speak for Lanier, but I suspect if there is such a thing as "payment" at that time it would be attention, not money. I wonder what importance attention will play in a world where a lack of attention does not equal threat to survival? It will still be useful for fulfilling the urge to contribute, share and improve collective experience. So currency may equal "ability to make a difference". Love to hear your thoughts!

  • Smart guy with some great points. But for some reason whenever I look at him I think of Dr. Seuss.

  • Profound, Profound, Profound, Profundity

  • Not trying to be a dick, but if you took a look at his book, I think you'd find that he makes some really insightful, data-backed points.

  • @thebigoneisbig Hopefully, by then, the Master Computer will be able to give you better tips on spelling.

  • I like the interviewer, but Lanier needs to pull himself together, just a bit – I've now watched a great deal of footage, and read here and there, and I've seriously not bumped into a single sound argument of his – where does he hide them?? "Read it in my book" or "data shows" is the closest he gets.
    Also, I really don't like the way he is ridiculing the people he disagrees with for being so certain of their predictions, when at the same time, he himself is arrogantly sure of his own thoughts..

  • i dont get what he means by everyone being able to live off their brains. this seems to assume a future where there's some sort of extreme abundance whereby no more work is required to maintain or provide for human society. even assuming this does happen. why then do we still need to sell our ideas to one another? why not just exchange them for free?

  • I read this book it was good, although he could have gone deeper into things… then i smoked some weed and i either didn't know what he was talking about or didnt agree on his eschatological opinions

  • Allen Ginsberg on Charlie Rose. One distinction Lanier's got insight and real world achievement. great video.

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