There are many, but they include:
- J.M. Keynes, he was the first person to think about how to really manage an information system.
- E.M. Forster for The Machine Stops, written in 1907, which foresees our error with a very critical eye.
- Alan Turing, who stayed a kind person even as he was tortured to death.
- Mary Shelley who was a keen observer of people and how they can confuse themselves with technology.
And of course my friend Ted Nelson. He invented the digital media link and was perhaps the most formative figure in the development of online culture. He proposed that instead of copying digital media, we should keep one copy of each cultural expression on a digital network and pay the author of that expression an affordable amount whenever it is accessed. In this way, anyone could earn a living from their creative work.
Here is another interesting bit about the internet:
One thing that bugs me is the way context is lost. You start discovering new music or new culture in very particular ways. Algorithms become your guide. If an algorithm calculates that you may like a piece of music, it will recommend it to you. That makes the algorithm the master of context for humanity. It tends to remove culture from its context, and context is everything. The structure of the Net itself has become the context instead of real people or the real world. That’s a really big deal.
Here is the full piece, an interview with Catherine Jewell at WIPO, I would say that Lanier is or should be rising in relative status. For the pointer I thank Samir Varma.