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Who Owns the Future? Audiobook, by Jaron Lanier Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Jaron Lanier Narrator: Pete Simoneilli Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2013 ISBN: 9781442368408
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The “brilliant” and “daringly original” (The New York Times) critique of digital networks from the “David Foster Wallace of tech” (London Evening Standard)—asserting that to fix our economy, we must fix our information economy.

Jaron Lanier is the father of virtual reality and one of the world’s most brilliant thinkers. Who Owns the Future? is his visionary reckoning with the most urgent economic and social trend of our age: the poisonous concentration of money and power in our digital networks.

Lanier has predicted how technology will transform our humanity for decades, and his insight has never been more urgently needed. He shows how Siren Servers, which exploit big data and the free sharing of information, led our economy into recession, imperiled personal privacy, and hollowed out the middle class. The networks that define our world—including social media, financial institutions, and intelligence agencies—now threaten to destroy it.

But there is an alternative. In this provocative, poetic, and deeply humane book, Lanier charts a path toward a brighter future: an information economy that rewards ordinary people for what they do and share on the web. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Everyone complains about the Internet, but no one does anything about it…except for Jaron Lanier.”

    Neal Stephenson, New York Times bestselling author

  • “The most important book I read [this year]…Provocative, unconventional ideas for ensuring that the inevitable dominance of software in every corner of society will be healthy instead of harmful.”

    Joe Nocera, New York Times

  • “This ambitious book is about how to help ordinary people survive and prosper at a time when advances in computer technology make it increasingly difficult for some people to find a job.”

    USA Today

  • “What separates Lanier from a lot of techno-futurists is his emphasis on the maintaining humanism and accessibility in technology. In the most ambitious part of the book, Lanier expresses what he believes to be the ideal version of the networked future…Lanier is able to conjure a future that’s much brighter, and hopefully in his imagination, we are moving closer to that.”, editorial review

  • “A smart, accessible book that takes a critical look at our online state of affairs and finds it out of balance.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Lanier's latest book shows him as a wide-ranging thinker and advocate, embedding technology in the context of the rapid economic transformation and dislocation it is causing.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Lanier’s career as a computer scientist is entwined in the central economic story of our time, the rapid advance of computation and networking…[Who Owns the Future?] not only makes a convincing diagnosis of a widespread problem but also answers a need for moonshot thinking.”

    New Republic

  • “One of the best skeptical books about the online world.”


  • “One of the triumphs of Lanier’s intelligent and subtle book is its inspiring portrait of the kind of people that a democratic information economy would produce. His vision implies that if we are allowed to lead absorbing, properly remunerated lives, we will likewise outgrow our addiction to consumerism and technology.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Lanier has a mind as boundless as the internet…[He is] the David Foster Wallace of tech.”

    Evening Standard (London)

  • “Lanier has a poet’s sensibility and his book reads like a hallucinogenic reverie, full of entertaining haiku-like observations and digressions.”

    Financial Times (London)

  • “Online commentators often write about the democratizing effects of new technologies. A less frequent subject is how these advances concentrate wealth in the hands of a few, undermining the middle class and our shared prospects. Thanks to that disturbing trend, recent dramatic breakthroughs in digital technologies have not brought great wealth to the world. Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns the Future? not only describes those troubling developments; it explains what we can do to prevent the collapse of an already endangered middle class. (P.S. Lanier qualifies as a revolutionary thinker. He isn't just a pioneer in virtual reality researched; he coined and popularized the term.”

    Barnes&, editorial review

  • “Lanier describes a future in which most productivity will be driven by software and software could be the final industrial revolution. This is a challenging book about a future information economy that the author suggests does not need to be dominated by technology.”


  • “Computer scientist, revolutionary thinker, and a leading researcher in the area of virtual reality who either coined or popularized that term (depending on whom you ask), Lanier is the person to listen to about technology. Here he argues that while digital technologies should be guaranteeing our financial health, given the efficiencies they deliver, the information economy has in fact concentrated wealth in the hands of a few—weakening our middle class and hence our democracy. Lanier doesn't just sling arrows but makes suggestions—including monetizing data now treated as being cost free.”

    Library Journal

  • “Narrator Pete Simonelli’s personable, evenly modulated style moves the material in this audiobook as if it were on a conveyor belt…There’s plenty of thought-provoking, inventive stuff here, and it’s hard to knock Lanier’s core belief that nothing is really ‘free’ on the Internet—we’re all paying for Twitter, Bing, MapQuest, and all the other Siren Servers (mega companies that dominate an Internet business sector)--and the bill for all of it will soon come due.”


  • Who Owns the Future? is a deeply original and sometimes startling read. Lanier does not simply question the dominant narrative of our times, but picks it up by the neck and shakes it. A refreshing and important book that will make you see the world differently.”

    Tim Wu, author of The Master Switch

  • “This book is rare. It looks at technology with an insider’s knowledge, wisdom, and deep caring about human beings. It’s badly needed.”

    W. Brian Arthur, economist and author of The Nature of Technology

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2013
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
  • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2013 in Nonfiction

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About the Author

Jaron Lanier is a scientist, musician, and writer best known for his work in virtual reality and his advocacy of humanism and sustainable economics in a digital context. He is known as the father of virtual reality technology, and Time named him one of the “Time 100” in 2010. His book, Dawn of the New Everything, was named a 2017 best book of the year by the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, and Vox.

About the Narrator

Pete Simonelli is a writer, audiobook narrator, and vocalist for the band Enablers.