It’s widely believed that the internet’s development was inevitable and its current form is the best it could be. However, the truth is that the internet could have taken multiple different paths. The reason it evolved the way it did can be attributed to a small group of venture capitalists and technology evangelists who held peculiar prejudices. This group dictated the terms of trade on the internet, leading to the consolidation of power in the hands of a few giant tech companies.
The internet’s original sin lies in the rejection of property rights and permission. The early internet utopians championed a philosophy where everything should be fluid and without boundaries. This philosophy has given rise to an internet where trusted sources struggle to thrive, and content creators are unable to set fair prices for their work. Instead, platforms and advertising giants control the pricing, offering only nominal returns to creators.
This IP-light world, endorsed by politicians, the academic community, and NGOs funded by Big Tech, has denied individuals control over their own work and data. But the tide may be turning. The fervor around artificial intelligence (AI) has shed light on the brazen appropriation of other people’s work by AI models. Getty Images and The New York Times have taken legal action against AI firms accused of scraping and plagiarizing content.
The flaws in generative AI, which relies heavily on others’ original work, are coming to the surface and raising doubts about its revolutionary potential. This creates an opportunity to reconsider and reshape the internet. Jaron Lanier’s alternative, emphasizing the assertion of property rights by individuals, provides a model where we can regain control. It’s time for the technology industry to find its place in the value chain instead of dominating it.
In conclusion, the current trajectory of AI and the internet is troubling, questioning the assumptions that have shaped their development. It’s time to rethink and create a better internet where individuals are the masters, not the subjects of a few tech giants. The possibilities for alternative paths are endless.
1. How did the internet develop in its current form?
The internet’s current form was shaped by a small group of venture capitalists and technology evangelists who held prejudices against property rights and permission.
2. What impact does the IP-light world have on content creators?
In an IP-light world, content creators are unable to set fair prices for their work as platforms and advertising giants control the pricing, offering only nominal returns.
3. What legal actions have been taken against AI firms?
Getty Images and The New York Times have both taken legal action against AI firms accused of scraping and plagiarizing content without permission.