Lessig & Zittrain talk at Google Washington
It was a geek double-header at Google's Washington offices yesterday afternoon, where Professor Jonathan Zittrain of Oxford University and Professor Larry Lessig of Stanford Law School showed up to share some of their thoughts about the future of the Web.
Zittrain's talk was based around his new book, "The Future of the Internet -- And How To Stop It."
His thesis, in the book, is that the prevalence of spam and malware may be setting the Web on a path to a kind of appliance-driven lockdown. The Web, Zittrain argues, became important because of the open-ness of the personal computer, on which any programmer could come up with and develop crazy, innovative, world-changing ideas. But the threat of faulty code and spyware, among other problems, means that the world is starting to turn to closed systems -- like TiVos, Xboxes and iPhones -- that can't as easily be modified by users or gifted programmers.
Lessig, in his talk, talked about his worries of what he sees as a probably-inevitable Internet-wide disaster
Lessig said he thinks that an "e-911" will likely take place at some point down the road, but he's most worried that the government will use an hacker-caused Internet shutdown or outage as an excuse to further ramp up online surveillance and to further do away with online privacy.
"We need to prepare for this choice now," he warned.
Lessig did not bring up his possible candidacy for a congressional seat in San Francisco.
If anybody who also attended the talk wants to tack on more of Zittrain's or Lessig's arguments here, please do so.
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