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 : Penguin Press, [2017]
ISBN: 9781101981115
Characteristics: pages cm


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Aug 08, 2017

This looks to be an interesting book; I look forward to reading it. Just quite recently, China demanded that Apple should no longer provide certain apps which allowed the circumventing of the Chinese government's onerous censoring and information control - - Apple readily acquiesced to their demands.
When the FBI petitioned Apple to circumvent the iPhone security on terrorist/mass murderer, Farook Sayed's phone [to see if that husband/wife team were part of a larger terrorist cell], Apple balked.
Some years back, when a military coup in a Latin American country - - which overthrew a democratically-elected administration - - was underway, Apple Tech Support received an unusual telephone request: a group of surrounded gov't workers, huddled in a gov't vault, need a password to access an Apple laptop to stop the vault from automatically opening in a timed release, allowing in the murderous coup soldiers. Apple's management refused, and consequently those workers were slaughtered [the final word in customer support, no doubt!!!].
These stories of horror remind one of Yahoo and Jerry Yang of years past, when the Chinese gov't demanded IP data from Yahoo which allowed the Chinese gov't to round up - - and disappear - - pro-democracy activists. Unfortunately, Yang was forthcoming with that data, and those activists were disappeared!
We know from WikiLeaks - - and other researchers such as Citizen Lab of Toronto - - of the various tech outfits who sell deep packet inspection technology and other such tools to authoritarian regimes [Iran, Egypt, Dubai, Bahrain, the former Libyan gov't, Saudi Arabia, China, et cetera] used against their people, to reinforce their iron rule against the people.
Given their recent history, one should be highly skeptical of such companies!
And there's some fairly decent circumstantial evidence to suggest that the CIA was the primary investor of Google.


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