I’ve started reading Franklin Foer’s new book World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech. I can already tell it’s an important and timely read. Foer pulls no punches as he talks about the ideas that fuel the big tech companies and the imperative of resisting them. Here are a few choice quotes from the Prologue:
“It’s hard not to marvel at these companies and their inventions, which often make life infinitely easier. But we’ve spent too long marveling. The time has arrived to consider the consequences of these monopolies, to reassert our own role in determining the human path. Once we cross certain thresholds–once we transform the values of institutions, once we abandon privacy–there’s no turning back, no restoring our lost individuality.”
“The tech companies are detroying something precious, which is the possibility of contemplation. They have created a world in which we’re constantly watched and always distracted. Through their accumulation of data, they have constructed a portrait of our minds, which they use to invisibly guide mass behavior (and increasingly individual behavior) to further their financial interests. They have eroded the integrity of institutions–media, publishing–that supply the intellectual material that provokes thought and guides democracy. Their most precious asset is our most precious asset, our attention, and they have abused it.”
Good stuff! I’ll share more about Foer’s book in future posts. In the mean time, get yourself a copy and read it along with me! (I’d link to Amazon here, but I’d be doing so at the expense of local bookstores, so I’ll refrain! Instead, here’s a link to the publisher page for more info!