World Without Mind : The Existential Threat of Big Tech
by Foer, Franklin

1 The Valley is Whole, The World is One
2 The Google Theory Of History
3 Mark Zuckerberg's War on Free Will
4 Jeff Bezos Disrupts Knowledge
5 Keepers of the Big Gate in the Sky
6 Big Tech's Smoke-Filled Room
7 The Virality Virus
8 Death Of The Author
9 In Search of the Angel of Data
10 The Organic Mind
11 The Paper Rebellion

A blistering and personal polemic against today's monolithic tech companies argues that in spite of the conveniences of their products, today's ambitious corporations are triggering consequences in the form of privacy compromises, intellectual property loss and the negative homogenization of social, political and intellectual arenas.

Franklin Foer is a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He is the author of How Soccer Explains the World, which has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and is a winner of a National Jewish Book Award. For seven years, he edited The New Republic magazine.

*Starred Review* Foer's (Insurrections of the Mind, 2014) is a fascinating, far-reaching discussion of the monopolistic behavior and intentions of Amazon, Facebook, and Google; the misdirected trend of favoring collaboration over individualism; and the growing dangers of algorithms. Former editor of the New Republic and current correspondent at the Atlantic, Foer excavates the history of journalism, publishing, and even the coverage of America's fascination with food in this well-structured, accessible, and entertaining book to argue that that the idealistic visions of the creators of these colossal corporations never imagined the implications of what he suggests is the theft of human knowledge. He has come to believe that the revolutionary algorithms consumers rely on to choose their next vacation, meal, or book are what will seal their fate as prisoners of American conformity. People just aren't going to have to think anymore. "The tech companies are destroying something precious," he writes, "which is the possibility of contemplation." Readers who loved Dave Eggers' dystopian novel, The Circle (2013), will recognize similarities in what Foer explores here. The difference is that Foer is warning America that the growing nightmare is real, and that it's happening in ways few are cognizant of. This is a splash of ice-cold water, a fierce call to action, and a great read. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

A capably argued if perhaps too familiar criticism of things as they are in this intermediated, technological swirl of a world.There may be some Ayn Rand-worshipping libertarians in Silicon Valley, writes Foer (How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, 2004, etc.), but the governing ethos of what the Europeans call GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) is to aggregate us into a big data collectivity and manage our every desire, memory, taste, and everything else that makes us individuals. In an essay/manifesto driven by righteous indignation at having been fired from his job as New Republic editor by one of those wandering techies, Foer fires back with, among other things, the charge that the tech billionaires' forays into media "have eroded the integrity of institutions…that supply the intellectual material that provokes thought and guides democracy." (Never mind that the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post has taken the lead in resisting the cu rrent administration.) Foer aims broadly and fires buckshot. Sometimes he hits the target, sometimes not. When he does, it's a doozy: he notes, for instance, that our democratic revolution is now running up against our technological revolution, and "we're nearing the moment when we will have to damage one of our revolutions to save the other." The most profound insights in the book usually come from other thinkers on whom Foer draws, such as the economist Herbert Simon, who observed that the true cost of information was its sapping of the information consumer's attention—which is why things come to us in sound bites and bullet points these days. Many of Foer's arguments will be familiar to readers who critique technology, such as Jaron Lanier, Ellen Ullman, and Clay Shirky, but his proposed remedy is pretty much his own, perhaps by way of John Prine: blow up the TV and computer and read a (printed) book. A spirited renunciation of the machine and not just for Luddites i n favor of such radical thoughts as private ownership of one's own data and the nonalgorithmic shopping experience. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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