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Knowledge is power

In a speech given to the SXSW meeting, Julian Assange makes the point of how information is used to accrue wealth.

Assange also described what he sees as an “unprecedented theft of wealth from the majority of the population to those people who already have a lot of power … doing that in part by stealing information from all of us. Knowledge is power, and as a result they’re getting more power.”

He portrayed Wikileaks’ mission as “going after” organisations that accumulate knowledge and “putting it back into our common intellectual record, our common history … and that empowers us”.

Assange also suggested that 20-year-olds now are “much more worldly” than 20-year-olds were 10 years ago, as a result of this transfer of knowledge, which he thinks Wikileaks takes some of the credit for. He talked about future plans for Wikileaks, saying that it is preparing an “important” new release of material, but warned that he prefers not to give “the alleged perpetrator the heads up before the alleged victims … they simply prepare to counterspin”.

Jaron Lanier tells Stephen Colbert pretty much the same thing, that the future is owned by the few people who have access to computer-stored knowledge that will enable them to leverage tiny informational advantages to enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us.

The Colbert Report
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(This clip aired on March 4, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)

Comments

  1. says

    Bruce Sterling, one of my favorite prescient science fiction authors, wrote a story once about a political candidate who had access to real-time “big data” analysis of what his audiences were thinking. So he went out there and just kept saying whatever made them happiest. Lanier and Assange are right, as much as I can’t stand to say that Lanier is right about anything – what a windbag.

  2. consciousness razor says

    Jaron Lanier tells Stephen Colbert pretty much the same thing, that the future is owned by the few people who have access to computer-stored knowledge that will enable them to leverage tiny informational advantages to enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us.

    That’s not supposed to be in the future tense, is it? A few people already do leverage tiny informational advantages to enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us. That’s pretty much how the stock market works, for example. And that’s how lots of companies operate internally, many ad agencies for example: they get our info, then profit. No futuristic underpants gnomes required.

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