If we have simply taken the big software, hardware, and social media companies who dominate our lives for granted, the reactions from the business world to Life after Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy should give us a lot to think about.
Mr. Gilder, 78, is still immersed in the world of tech, but he doesn’t like all that he sees. Google makes him mad, as does Silicon Valley more broadly, and his ire is directed at the “new catastrophe theory” which holds “that artificial intelligence will make human minds obsolete, and that we’ll soon produce machine-learning tools and robotics that excel the capabilities of human brains.” He calls this attitude “Google Marxism”—a phrase he utters with a certain salivary distaste—“because Marx’s essential theme was that the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century had overcome all the challenges of production.” From that point on, Marx held, “human beings would focus on redistributing wealth among the classes rather than creating it.”
Marx was convinced that the steam turbine, electrification and what William Blake called “dark satanic mills” were a final stage in social evolution—“an eschaton.” Mr. Gilder loves abstruse words, and this one, which signifies a kind of climax in human attainment, is a particular favorite. “Google and the Silicon Valley people also imagine that their artificial intelligence, their machine learning, their cloud computing, is an eschaton—another ‘end of history’ moment. And it’s just preposterous.” Tunku Varadarajan, “Sage Against the Machine” at Wall Street Journal
So what is happening around us is not an apocalypse. Then what is it?
The new economy is much more fragile than we think, says Gilder, a lifetime technology analyst:
The author also describes how technology giants have created a new economy that while seemingly stable at the time could unravel at any moment. He insists that this is no secret in Silicon Valley and that entrepreneurs are preparing for the upcoming cascade.
He also criticizes what he calls “delusions of omnipotence and transcendence” within the advances in artificial intelligence, claiming that it has distracted the internet businesses from the development of better security for consumers. This has led to — and will lead to even more — fractures and breakdowns of firewalls. Jacob Airey, “The “great unbundling” is coming.” at Daily Wire
And he doesn’t think that Silicon Valley understands its vulnerability very well:
Google’s dominance in so many aspects of our digital lives is “creating a walled garden that’s basically controlled by two nerds in Silicon Valley,” says George Gilder, the author who more than anyone else predicted today’s imperfect online utopia in books such as Life After Television: The Coming Transformation of Media and American Life and Telecosm: How Infinite Bandwidth Will Revolutionize Our World…
Long a prophet of transparency, mobility, and cryptocurrency, Gilder says that disruption is coming and, as with earlier shifts from mainframe to personal computers, it will be upon us long before the solons of Silicon Valley know what hit them. Nick Gillespie, “George Gilder Is Excited about Life After Google and You Should Be Too: Podcast” at Reason
Google’s problem is that too much of it is free:
My friend the futurist George Gilder outlines a theory in “Life After Google,” his forthcoming book. He suggests that while advertising prices might be correct, the free-service model cannot deliver sustainable growth. Mr. Gilder explains that Google “achieved unprecedented scale by a commitment to ‘free.’ But free flow is not cash flow. It bypasses the entrepreneurial learning that is conveyed through the remorseless messaging of price. Without prices, all that is left to confine consumption is the scarcity of time. Beyond the scores of hours a week for its smartphone customers, time is closing in on Google.”
Andy Kessler, “Will Bitcoin Save Us From Google?” at Wall Steet Journal
But, while the product is free, as Gilder explains in a podcast, it is not very secure and Google is becoming authoritarian:
Gilder started by explaining why the Google model cannot last forever. “Their great mistake is addressing the issue of security successfully. One of the reasons for free is because nobody wants to steal free stuff. So the burdens on security for the network are greatly diminished,” Gilder argued. “A free model doesn’t really teach you. Capitalism is based on markets and prices and relationships with customers who you have to serve and who have rights. This is how capitalist progress works.” …
“Google has even more ambitious statements,” Gilder continued. “They are not just usurping human productivity, they are usurping human minds.” Alex Marlowe, “George Gilder: Google Repeats Marx’s Errors, Is ‘Usurping Human Minds’” (includes podcast interview) at Breitbart
Early on he escorts us into the very moment of the key conference — in 1930 — where a young super-geek named Kurt Gödel — empowered by the intellectual courage of the great von Neumann — quietly but definitively tipped over the first domino that destroyed the prevailing deterministic scientific model of the world.
Gödel, empowered by von Neumann, opened the door to a cornucopian cyber age. The blockchain now promises to restore its decentralized glory.
That moment led the world out of the desert of determinism and into the age of information theory. (It’s Claude Shannon’s world. We just live in it.) And if you dare to think of the greatness, rareness, muchness, fewness of this precious only endless world in which you say you live I have encountered no better guide to it than Life After Google. Ralph Benko, “Introducing the Cryptocosm, which promises to reverse the doldrums of the Google Age.” at The American Spectator
Note: We’ll add further notes about reviews as more become available.
See also: How humans can thrive in a world of increasing automation (Bill Dembski)
George Gilder: Life after Google will be okay People will take ownership of their own data, cutting out the giant “middle man”