Jaron Lanier is a scientist, a musician and a writer, who delivers a keynote on digital culture. The talk reveals a "globally tragic, astoundingly ridiculous mistake" humanity has made by integrating the Internet within the social fabric. Lanier's opinion is particularly valuable as he is a renowned activist for humanism and sustainable economics, in addition to having relevant experience with virtual reality.
The keynote on digital culture pinpoints this 'grave' mistake to 90s idealism with regards to the vast potential of the Internet as a platform. The reality of virtualism was something like a new language — one that had new depths, offered new ways to imagine, to create, to communicate. In other words, it totally revolutionalized the way people lived their lives. Yet, Lanier draws attention the phenomenon's dark side. With reference to Norbert Wiener, the speaker emphasizes the fact that at present-day the population is subject to a degree of behavioral modification. It began with advertisement as a way of generating revenues and bridging a gap between the wish for a cost-free Internet and the celebration of digital entrepreneurship. As technology advanced, so did until digital entities and became, what Jaron Lanier calls, "behavior modification empires."
The keynote on digital culture goes on to reveal the speaker's hypothesis of how to undo this. In its essence, the idea is to pay for certain services — like social networking and search engines, in order to achieve a world of "peak social media" for example. To support this notion, Jaron Lanier directs the audience's attention to Netflix, HBO and Amazon, arguing that "when you pay for stuff, things get better."
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