A rag-tag but growing collection of Prevailists are beginning to fight back against a technological revolution that they see as having gone astray, according to this article in The Washington Post by Joel Achenbach.
Jaron Lanier, a musician, composer, performer and computer scientist, is the dean of the digital dissenters, having largely turned against the tech tribe. “I’m the first guy to sober up after a heavy-duty party” is how he describes himself. (Nick Otto for The Washington Post) █ Lanier, 55, is a man of considerable girth and extraordinary hair.
Some slur these folk as Luddites — ignoramuses who want to return to the spinning wheel. But they’re not. Many in fact have worked very close to our new machines. Jaron Lanier, for example, invented virtual reality as a shared experience. Most are throughtful, including Pope Francis. As the piece says:
“Techno-skeptics, or whatever you want to call them — ‘humanists’ may be the best term — sense that human needs are getting lost in the tech frenzy, that the priorities have been turned upside down. They sense that there’s too much focus on making sure that new innovations will be good for the machines.
“ ‘I’m on Team Human!’ author Douglas Rushkoff will say at the conclusion of a talk.”
Their critiques include the notion that social media that started off as laudable methods to bring people together in novel ways, have turned into means for mining who we are and selling it to giant corporations. Sharing technologies that started off as admirable means for us to own less stuff, have enabled a new kind of serfdom, in which we work for the machines.
What this is really about is folk who, twenty year ago, were techno-optimists who cheered the rise of our revolutionary new order as a blow against The Man. Now they see it as going horribly wrong. They want to take it back. And they have ideas about how to do that.
The goal, they say, is for us to take control of our own futures, not to have it dictated to us by our creations and the corporations that have come to dominate them.