Note — Oct 11, 2020

Jaron Lanier in Conversation with Tim Maughan

Seen in → No.145

Source →

At Believer Magazine, Nehal El-Hadi brings us an interesting conversation with two smart writers who think about technology and its impacts. Insightful comments on the pandemic as rehearsal for the future, how “the more that people are self-directed, the better the internet becomes,” an excellent phrasing by Maughan on science fiction and speculative-fiction, Lanier’s circle of empathy, and perhaps the most interesting section on ownership of data; how who owns it impacts society—I’m more in the camp of data commons, collectively owned and directed data, which wasn’t discussed—as well as privacy and social networks.

I’m very much in the camp that science fiction is about the present; it’s not about the future. It mirrors our concerns and worries about the present and amplifies or exaggerates them in ways that we can analyze and talk about. […]

Because if you’re saying that the computer deserves to be inside the circle [(of empathy)], what you’re saying is essentially that it’s the people who own the computer that deserve to be more inside the circle than the people who don’t own the computer. I think it’s a stealthy form of supremacy politics. […]

[U]ltimately, it’s those who really participate in the ownership of the society that benefit from the society. And if you have a data-driven society, people who don’t have rights to their own data are disenfranchised. […]

It feels like instead of the internet disappearing and causing the collapse, the collapse has come and we’re trapped in the room with the internet.