You are not a Gadget, by Jaron Lanier is an analysation of how humans ultimately interact with and study technology, and how we as humans are impacted by the way that we interact with the technology. In the last half of the book, Lanier revisits the claims he had previously discussed in the earlier chapters of the book, which is mainly that technology suppresses people and that it limits our critical thinking and creativity and even our personalities, because of the ways that people use technology in their regular lives. He also refers to something that he calls ‘flatness‘. Finally, Lanier expresses his opinion of human interaction with technology by referring back to the Singularity.

Since Lanier himself is a musician, he gave examples pertaining to music and how technology could become something to enhance the art rather than become the art itself, and how humans should use technology for what it was designed for which is further exploration and options to expand human expression. He suggest that we introduce ‘telegigging and songles into our lives. Telegigging is a way that humans would be able to express their creativity and get paid- someone could be hired and be holographically projected to perform their art and still be paid. A songle is a dongle – piece of hardware that you can plug into a computer to run a piece of software – for a song, it would be a sort of embedded system except it would be placed inside random everyday objects, and it would send out signals for example if the person went to a party which would play certain songs and even, perhaps, if multiple people had a songle, it would find a common piece of music to play. These are just a few of the ideas he poses to increase human expression while using technology.

Next, Lanier talks about flatness, which is when coders make an open freshly coded program which programmers think will lead to expression, however, Lanier claims that it will still be in culture bubbles instead of worldly. A good example that he gives is also music related, he uses the example of Generation X which is this generation where creativity and expression is culture is runs out, and he proceeds to claim that Generation X did not go away, but that we are currently living it even if it doesn’t seem like it. The example he gives is with music and that different styles of music have been created over the years, until recently when there is mainly pop. This shows that the artists are too frightened to do something different because of money and will continue to follow the usual successful way.

Finally, Lanier wraps up his novel by going back to the Singularity and explains how the Singularity gives the hive mind (the collection of people on the internet and all of their opinions) hope to become collectively smart and productive. Lanier, however, ends by stating that people are not gadgets and that technology was made for us to use and not the other way around.

Social / Ethical issues – globalisation, standards and protocols, people and machines, etc.


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