You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jarod Lanier
You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jarod Lanier
In chapter one, Lanier states, “Computers have gotten millions of times more powerful” (70). He argues that since its invention, technological advancements have made computers more powerful, common and connected. Over the years, computers have undergone significant transformations during its five generations. From a simple abacus, which was used for calculation, computers have evolved to perform different functions such as controlling smart homes, gamming, communication, programming, video editing, surfing, uploading and downloading material from the internet. Its abilities to perform these functions were necessitated by software and hardware innovations and developments.
Computer processors, random access memories, storage capacities, and other components have been improved tremendously. Furthermore, other technologies such as Bluetooth, WI-Fi, and Local Area Networks, increased and improved the functions performed by computers. Compared to the first generation, fifth generation computers have gotten millions of times more powerful despite the reduction in their sizes and prices. The fast pace of technological advancements raises uncertainties relating to the abilities of future generation computers. Furthermore, it poses the threat of technological singularity.
In the introduction to Part 2, Lanier states, “The internet has meant an ability to spin financial schemes that were too complex to exist in the past” (117). He argues that there are people who have benefited from the internet by creating and creative illusions of risk-free investment opportunities. The internet is undoubtedly the biggest market to target millions of people using search engines and visiting social sites everyday. Google and Facebook for instance, have many users and as a result, benefits from advertisement opportunities created for other businesses. In addition, sites such as Amazon and Paypal benefit from the internet by participating as a mediator between online buyers and sellers located in different geographical locations. Finally, the internet enabled electronic commerce, which allows business and customers to interact and carry out online transactions.
In chapter ten, Lanier states, ‘The hive ideology robs musicians and other creative people of the ability to influence the context within which their expressions are perceived’ (156). He argues that hive-minded people are strongly opposed to ideologies that contradict their own. Lanier has also identifies a group of people he classified as creative commons. He states that this group of people wait for an ideology to be accepted by the public before associating themselves with it. Hive-minded people and creative commons have limited their creativity by adhering to traditional cultures. Hive-minded people must be willing to accept new ideologies and encourage ingenuity to facilitate the transition from traditional norms. In most instances, those with new or dissimilar ideologies have been locked out and disregarded by conservative hive-minded people opposed to changes and transformations. These circumstances eliminate the opportunities for innovations and growth of many sectors such as the music industry.
“In the coming years, pattern-recognition tasks like facial tracking will become commonplace” (Lanier 167). Lanier states that scientists and engineers have created computer software that has facial recognition abilities. Using digital image or video frame, the computer applications have been designed to identify and verify people automatically. Just like other biometrics, facial recognition applications were designed to improve security systems. The magnitude of its performance has increased since its innovation. The current models have the ability to capture high-resolution images, perform 3-dimmession face scans and provide algorithms that are more accurate. Lanier acknowledges that computers are finally starting to recognize patterns despite the dissimilarity among individuals and users. This has been made possible through computer software that has the ability to represent and write codes that capture common characteristics of facial expressions like smiles. Despite the advantages of this technology, questions have been raised regarding its privacy intrusion. Many people argue that pattern-recognition technologies might be used for unintended purposes, mainly by government institutions.
Lanier states, “Accelerating change has practically become a religious belief in Silicon Valley” (180). He argues that the speed of technological advancement to too fats and may pose significant challenge to computer users, software and hardware developers. Silicon Valley is widely known for its prowess in advancing and manufacturing computer chips. Their accelerating improvements have left many people uncertain of what breakthroughs will be rolled out in the future. Furthermore, software and other hardware developers have been slowed down because the new improvements require bigger computers and programs. Due to the magnitude of the technological advancement, developers are slower and more conservative in their research to enable them identify and eliminate opportunities for error.
Phenotropic Computing and Postsymbolic Communication
I agree with the central thesis in the book that people fear singularity. Fear of technological singularity has forced many people to involve themselves with personal technology. Their fear is that artificial intelligence will progress to an extent that is much greater than that of humans. As a result, these uncertainties prevent people from designing and improving technologies that serve humans. However, Lanier believes that everybody should contribute in his or her own way towards technological advancements. Scientists and engineers who made significant contributions in technological advances, such as the invention of the internet, would not have succeeded if they operated under the same uncertainties. Technology has become an extension of humans and its advancements will surely improve the daily lives of people.
Relationship of Virtual Reality to Online Communication
Since its invention, virtual reality (VR) has been embedded in several aspects of people’s daily lives. It has been incorporated into the education system, military training, flight simulations, gamming and communication. Online communications such as Facebook, Twitter, and Skype are clear examples of virtual reality social sites. Skype is probably the largest virtual reality company in the world. Through Skype, online job interviews can be carried out to overcome distance barriers. Unlike other communication channels, Skype allows for real-time video chat through computer devices such as webcams. Before the invention of VR technologies, people were forced to engage in real-time and face-to-face conversations.
Through online communication like Skype, VR introduced realism and immediacy that were not present in traditional methods. Virtual presence is created because face-to-face conversations have been made possible thorough VR communication. Furthermore, the virtual world created by this technology allows users to form of online communities where they can interact. However, incorporation of VR in communication came along with a few disadvantages. Traditional face-to-face communications promoted and strengthened social and family values. VR communications have weakened the societal values because people are less engaged in physical interaction. Reduced physical movements also pose medical threats to users since the technology eliminates physical exercises such as walking.
There is one major question raised after reading the book, You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jarod Lanier. Should the human race ignore the threat of technological singularity? Should it be considered as a myth or reality?
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