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“EXTINCTION IS ON THE TABLE”: Jaron Lanier Warns Of Beast-Tech’s Existential Threat To Humanity

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Jaron Lanier, the eminent American computer scientist, composer and artist, is no stranger to skepticism around social media, but his current interpretations of its effects are becoming darker and his warnings more trenchant. Lanier, a dreadlocked free-thinker credited with coining the term “virtual reality”, has long sounded dire sirens about the dangers of a world over-reliant on the internet and at the increasing mercy of tech lords, their social media platforms and those who work for them. The stakes are high. “I think extinction is on the table as an outcome,” he said. Throughout his career, Lanier’s focus has lain outside the ones and zeros of computer code. He helped create modern ideologies – Web 2.0 futurism, digital utopianism, among them. But Lanier is no longer a fan of how the digital utopia is coming along. He’s called it “digital Maoism” and accused tech giants like Facebook and Google of being “spy agencies”. And he’s been brutally clear about what he sees as the consequences of over-dependence on social media: in essence, you’ll get both popular cat videos and civil war. In his 2010 book, You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto , he warned of the dangers of web ideologies and the “hive mind” that could lead to “social catastrophe”. But now his train of thought has launched off, if anything, in a more worrisome direction… (READ MORE)

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