Summary of Jaron Lanier on the Future of the Internet and Work

Jaron Lanier on the Future of the Internet and Work summary

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Technologist Jaron Lanier, a longtime Silicon Valley insider, is an outspoken critic of many of the industry’s choices – particularly, its data-driven advertising model. In this well-run interview with German radio host Meike Laaff, Lanier emphasizes that while he’s a fan of big tech (he’s currently employed at Microsoft), the business model must change. The interview captures the intellectual, sometimes radical Lanier in a down-to-earth, pithy moment. 

About the Podcast

Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist and a pioneer in the field of virtual reality. Meike Laaff is a reporter for Breitband – a German radio program about media and digital culture, for which she did this interview. 


Silicon Valley’s business model was its moral downfall. Big tech adopted an “advertising business plan” that goes far beyond traditional billboards or print ads. To create a dynamic, individualized ad experience for users, tech firms surveil users and amass their personal data. What’s more, engineers employ behavioral science to influence customers’ actions and hook them to their devices. Firms profit from this system only when a third party buys access to sway consumers. This system swiftly became “sneaky”and “inhumane.” 

However, don’t blame executives at Facebook or Google for the disastrous business model. The ...

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