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February 5, 2012

This week we began reading Lanier’s You are Not a Gadget.  The book focused on the role of technology in the our lifestyles and how  technology dehumanizes us.  Lanier states early on that he is not biased in his opinions about technology, but it quickly becomes apparent that he has a very negative attitude towards technology.  Right away, this raises the question of his credibility as a writer.  I find it hard to agree with Lanier when he doesn’t realize his own bias is getting in the way of his argument.  He goes on to provide extreme examples to support his anti-technology claims, which also detracts form his credibility.

One of Lanier’s opening arguments is that humans are losing their freedom and their humanity by using web sites such as Facebook or Twitter.  Because there is a particular format that “limits” how people express themselves on this asocial networking websites, Lanier claims they are losing their creativity and becoming machine-like.  I completely  disagree with this.  Just because there is a structure or format as to how we express our opinions doesn’t mean we are restricted from being ourselves and being free to express opinions.  By that logic, the laws that govern society also dehumanize because they restrict us from behaving how we truly want to.

Another argument that he makes is that someday humans will make machines too smart and they will end up taking over the world.  To me, that is a totally illegal belief.  Humans control what they want machines to be able to do.  There is no way humans will ever empower machines to become smart or independent enough to beat out humans as the dominant species.

Although I vehemently disagree with a majority what Lanier has argued to this point in the book, I find his opinion interesting.  He definitely gives food for thought, but I don’t think there is much substance behind his argument.  It will be interesting to see how this book progresses and how my opinions either agree with or differ from Lanier’s.

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