The Internet was built by idealists who believed that greater access to information would inevitably lead to better outcomes for humanity. Jaron Lanier was one of those utopians, a pioneering inventor of virtual reality. But Lanier calls the Web as it has evolved a “giant manipulation service,” and he fears that virtual reality, the next frontier of tech innovation, could absorb the misogyny of gamer culture. Nicholas Thompson, the editor of newyorker.com, asks Lanier if there’s a way to do things better.
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Jaron Lanier is a technology inventor and philosopher who has been dubbed the prophet of the digital age. He coined the phrases ‘Virtual Reality’ and ‘digital Maoism’. His last book, You Are Not A Gadget, was a hugely influential and hotly debated critique of the ‘hive mind’. Here he talks about his new book, Who Owns the Future?, with artist and writer James Bridle.
Digital technologies dawned with the promise that they would bring us all greater economic stability and power. That utopian image has stuck. But, Lanier argues, the efficiencies brought by digi-techs are having the effect of concentrating wealth while reducing overall growth. He predicts that, as more industries are transformed by digital technologies, huge waves of permanent unemployment are likely to follow those already sweeping through many creative industries.
But digital hubs are designed on the principle that people don’t get paid for sharing. Every time we apply for a loan, update Facebook, use our credit cards, post pictures on Instagram or search on Google, we work for free says Lanier. He argues that artificial intelligence over a network can be understood as a massive accounting fraud that ruins markets. Past technological revolutions rewarded people with new wealth and capabilities. He will explain why, without that reward, the middle classes - who form the basis of democracy as he sees it - are threatened, placing the future of human dignity itself at risk.
Lanier discusses his analysis of the deep links between democracy and capitalism, and shares his thoughts for how humanity can find a new vision for the future.
This event was part of The School of Life’s ‘In Conversation’ series and took place at Conway Hall on 6th March 2013.
Audio rip, original here under CC by-nc: http://vimeo.com/61418990
On this week’s Science Weekly podcast, Guardian science correspondent Ian Sample and Guardian digital correspondent Jemima Kiss meet scientist, musician and web guru Jaron Lanier to discuss his new book Who Owns The Future?
Alok Jha discovers the lesser known role of Isaac Newton as radical historian when he meets Jed Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold, authors of Newton and The Origin of Civilization, about Newton’s Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended, published in 1728, one year after his death, which unleashed a storm of controversy.
Plus, Ian is joined by Observer science editor Robin McKie to discuss this week’s science news, including evidence of water vapour on exoplanets and the bicentenary of the father of epidemiology John Snow.
Jaron Lanier is a pioneering computer scientist, a creator of virtual reality, a musician, and the author of You Are Not a Gadget, which takes a skeptical view of the role we have given technology in our lives. Contrary to a view that the internet encourages creativity (with its infinite possibilities to share content), Lanier worries that it discourages originality and uniqueness in the generation that’s grown up with social media and broadband.
“If your paradigm of reality is that there’s a network structure in place and you fit into it, there are two positions — a peripheral node or a central node. That has profound implications for the way they approach science, art, and creativity,” Lanier says. “There’s a sense that the network encompasses everything. Kids embrace a worldview in which every category of knowledge is already precategorized, and you’re filling in pieces. Ambition becomes one of climbing the network, rather than penetrating further into the mystery that surrounds us.”
Lanier is an advisor to Studio 360’s Science and Creativity series, and gave this talk at the 2012 meeting of our advisory board.
Jaron Lanier, pioneering computer scientist, musician, visual artist, and author, discusses his book, You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto. Lanier discusses effects of the web becoming “regularized” and dangers he sees with “hive mind” production, which he claims leads to “crummy design.” He also explains why he thinks advertising is a misnomer, contending that modern advertising is more about access to potential consumers than expressive or creative form. Lanier also advocates for more peer-to-peer rather than hub-and-spoke transactions, discusses why he’s worried about the disappearance of the middle class, claims that “free” isn’t really free, talks about libertarian ideals, and explains why he’s ultimately hopeful about the future.
This week Jaron Lanier — composer, performer, computer scientist, philosopher and pioneer of virtual reality — gets seriously sceptical about somebody a lot of people think of as a hero: Julian Assange. The Internet, according to Lanier, was influenced in equal degrees by 1960s romanticism and cold war paranoia. If the political world becomes a mirror of the Internet, then the world will be restructured around secretive digital power centres surrounded by a sea of chaotic, underachieving openness. WikiLeaks is such a centre. It’s the world of nerd supremacy.
We spy on the new culture of surveillance. Kurt Andersen talks to technologist and philosopher Jaron Lanier about why we have to watch the watchers. An artist meticulously tracks government spy satellites crossing the night sky. A computer scientist explains what goes into building a facial recognition system. And sitting silently in her car, a photographer secretly snaps pictures of strangers in their homes.
Jaron Lanier, philosopher, digital guru and architect of Virtual Reality, is worried.
Individual creativity has begun to go out of fashion. Machines, specifically computers, are no longer just tools to be used by the human mind - these days, we treat them as if they are altogether better than humans.
Join Jaron Lanier as he delivers a call to arms against digital collectivism and proposes richer, more productive ways in which technology might interact with our culture.
Chair: Nico Macdonald, writer and consultant on design, technology and innovation
Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author.
In his new book You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, he discusses what he believes to be the biggest problem on the web today: intellectual piracy.
Initially, Lanier was one of the early digital leaders that praised the possibilities of the Internet and was optimistic about its uses for musicians, artists, scientists, and developers. He has since come to the realization that the intellectual collective that the Internet has fostered may have come at the expense of individual creativity.
Lanier’s new book is a manifesto against "open culture" in which he posits a new theory against hive mentality. He argues the Internet has produced a new social contract in which the work of creatives has become public domain, the property of the majority.