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ISBN-13: 9781846686979

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Additional info for Against The Machine: Being Human in the Era of the Electronic Mob

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So when people like Gates and Kelly talk about the new medium almost exclusively in eco- 32 / A G A I N S T T H E M A C H I N E nomic terms, even its most extreme aspects seem pedestrian. They seem like mere extensions of dilemmas that we have been facing for a long time. ” The Time magazine effusion about online sex segues into a discussion of the profits reaped by Asian Web sites devoted to sex. Even religious authorities, who you assume would be sensitive to the Internet’s effects on mores, attention span, vulnerability to addiction, and other issues, tame it in cost-benefit terms.

As our economy becomes more dependent on bits than on atoms, how will we protect these resources from being damaged or devalued by hackers? As the barriers to information come down, how will we protect our children from negative and predatory influences? And as the Internet dissolves national borders, how will we help indigenous cultures coexist with an increasingly homogenous global culture? Gates’s radiant view of the future and his predictions of the problems that might obstruct the Internet’s promise are reiterated throughout the media.

The rise of computers, Bell predicted in 1976, would make such methods of analysis widespread. Bell believed that an economic view of life was the core of a computer-centered culture. This is precisely the dynamic that drives Gates’s vision of the Internet. When Microsoft’s founder speaks of a “frictionTHE FUTURE, DANIEL BELL B A I T A N D S W I T C H / 31 less” global economy, he isn’t just conjuring up a world in which borders, tariffs, and protectionist restrictions no longer apply to streams of information borne instantaneously through virtual space.

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Against The Machine: Being Human in the Era of the Electronic Mob by LEE SIEGEL

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