Penguin £9.99 (223pp) £9.49 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
You Are Not a Gadget, By Jaron Lanier
Once a pioneer of virtual-reality technologies and still a designer of digital aids to surgery, Jaron Lanier was there at the birth of our hi-tech dreams. Yet since those early days of rapture, he believes that digital culture has gone so deeply wrong that within it "human creativity and understanding... are treated as worthless".
In this "manifesto", with all the zeal of a de-programmed cult survivor, he comes to accuse the false messiahs who invite us to worship "cybernetic totalism".
As technology makes machines more like people, Lanier argues, so it makes people more like machines. His inspired, infuriating and necessary book makes a plea for a "new digital humanism" against the networked conformity of commercial cyberspace.
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