Jaron Lanier warns against “digital passivity”

Once again, computer scientist, author, and musician Jaron Lanier passionately addresses ways in which digital age toys and apps offer illusions of empowerment and greater freedom while in fact limiting both.  This article was shared by reader Mike Katell, who also offered a thoughtful comment in response to my post as to why I’m not losing sleep over the revelations of Edward Snowden.  Some misinterpreted that post as advocating apathy about government surveillance, but that wasn’t the point at all.  As echoed in this editorial by Lanier, the post was about questioning an overreaction to perceived government surveillance while simultaneously volunteering ourselves to surveillance through fun gadgets linked to large, corporate-owned computers.

From Lanier’s article:

“To be free is to have a private zone in which you can be alone with your thoughts and experiments. That is where you differentiate yourself and grow your personal value. When you carry around a smartphone with a GPS and camera and constantly pipe data to a computer owned by a corporation paid by advertisers to manipulate you, you are less free. Not only are you benefiting the corporation and the advertisers, you are also accepting an assault on your free will, bit by bit.”

 Read full article at the New York Times here.

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