We let technology into our lives. And now it’s starting to control us

29 Nov

In 1998, I joined the UK launch team for an e-commerce startup named after the world’s largest river. The smart idea was to harness the unprecedented cataloguing capacity of the emerging internet to sell books – a product with a long shelf-life – online. In those days, now regarded as the classical era in tech history, the boundary between the product consumed and the medium used to deliver it was clear.Increasingly, the boundary between product and platform is dissolving before our eyes. First, we offered the freedom of the biggest selection of books in the world. Then we said: “If you liked that, you will like this.” We were following you into the bookshop, recording your purchasing history and suggesting your future. It started with books, but it was always intended to be everything, in the end.Two years later, in 2000, Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig predicted that the internet would become an apparatus that tracks our every move, erasing important aspects of privacy and free speech in our social and political lives. “Left to itself,” he said, “cyberspace will become a perfect tool of control.” A sceptical reviewer scoffed: “Lessig doesn’t offer much proof that a Soviet-style loss of privacy and freedom is on its way.”

Source: We let technology into our lives. And now it’s starting to control us | Rachel Holmes | Opinion | The Guardian

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Posted by on November 29, 2016 in Uncategorized


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