World Without Mind

World Without Mind

The Existential Threat of Big Tech

Book - 2017
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Franklin Foer reveals the existential threat posed by big tech, and in his brilliant polemic gives us the toolkit to fight their pervasive influence.

Over the past few decades there has been a revolution in terms of who controls knowledge and information. This rapid change has imperiled the way we think. Without pausing to consider the cost, the world has rushed to embrace the products and services of four titanic corporations. We shop with Amazon; socialize on Facebook; turn to Apple for entertainment; and rely on Google for information. These firms sell their efficiency and purport to make the world a better place, but what they have done instead is to enable an intoxicating level of daily convenience. As these companies have expanded, marketing themselves as champions of individuality and pluralism, their algorithms have pressed us into conformity and laid waste to privacy. They have produced an unstable and narrow culture of misinformation, and put us on a path to a world without private contemplation, autonomous thought, or solitary introspection--a world without mind. In order to restore our inner lives, we must avoid being coopted by these gigantic companies, and understand the ideas that underpin their success.

Elegantly tracing the intellectual history of computer science--from Descartes and the enlightenment to Alan Turing to Stuart Brand and the hippie origins of today's Silicon Valley--Foer exposes the dark underpinnings of our most idealistic dreams for technology. The corporate ambitions of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, he argues, are trampling longstanding liberal values, especially intellectual property and privacy. This is a nascent stage in the total automation and homogenization of social, political, and intellectual life. By reclaiming our private authority over how we intellectually engage with the world, we have the power to stem the tide.

At stake is nothing less than who we are, and what we will become. There have been monopolists in the past but today's corporate giants have far more nefarious aims. They're monopolists who want access to every facet of our identities and influence over every corner of our decision-making. Until now few have grasped the sheer scale of the threat. Foer explains not just the looming existential crisis but the imperative of resistance.
Publisher: New York, NY : Penguin Press, 2017.
ISBN: 9781101981115
Branch Call Number: 303.483 Foe
Characteristics: 257 pages ; 24 cm

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StarGladiator
Sep 16, 2017

Update:
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-18/washington-post-disciplines-writer-negative-article-jeff-bezos

[Correction to author: Thorstein Veblen was NOT a sociologist, but one of the greatest economists who ever lived, probably the greatest. Recommend the book on him by Rick Tilman, The Intellectual Legacy of Thorstein Veblen - - outstanding!]
The way this author glosses over stuff reminds me of the effusive enthusiam of Fake Newsies for George Gilder during the Reagan Administration - - and not a single one ever mentioned that one important fact that Gilder was the adopted son of David Rockefeller!
Foer does cover several important - - albeit safe topics - - Thurman Arnold's excellent work during FDR's administration and his epochal work, The Folklore of Capitalism [should be mandatory reading for one and all] and the origin of the term // gatekeepers \\ as well as three excellent pages on Amazon and Bezos and tax evasion and avoidance, but thoroughly botches - - or spews disinformation - - with his recounting of the founding of the Washington Post.
He only lightly touches upon Larry Lessig in the negative - - Lessig attended quite a few of those Federalist Society lunches? On p. 169 Foer makes a most lucid and cogent comment on his discovery, but a real reporter or journalist would have exhibited curiousity and posed the obvious question: Does this just apply to book reviewing journalists, or does it equally apply to other occupations and jobs? ? ? [I personally would have tied it to the action of the largest temp agency back in 2003, Manpower, who closed 1,000 offices across America, while opening up over 900 offices in China.]
He glosses over Peter Thiel's success with Palantir - - which enjoyed three full years of CIA-financing thanks to Thiel's connections - - wonder what we'd discover if someone looks even closer at Thiel's other so-called successes???
Essentially, the author from the New America Foundation cherry picks his way through the book - - the same criticism I have leveled against ALL the books written by New America Foundation-affiliated authors.
When Steve Coll wrote about ExxonMobil, does he ever mention who owns it [majority shareholder]? No, of course not, none of those corporations are owned by anyone - - it's all a mirage according to the New America Foundation spinners!
I do recommend you read this interesting book - - there are several intelligent points made by the author [I counted three of them] - - just make sure your Spidey sense is in high gear.

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