Jaron Lanier is known as “the father of virtual reality.” Smithsonian Magazine calls him “the spy who came in from the cold 2.0” for his criticisms of the digital world that he helped create. Lanier is coming to Lane Community College May 23 and 24 to speak as part of the school’s “Reading Together” effort that creates cross-campus conversations over books in common.
In his 2010 book, You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, Lanier argues that like the way that the size and dimensions of railroad tracks determines how fast and how big trains will be for years to come, choices about software design now could create “defining, unchangeable rules” for future generations. He writes that he wants “a new digital humanism” before the decisions of software engineers lock user behaviors into place.
Lanier critiques web anonymity and the threats to intellectual property and calls online culture “a culture of reaction without action” in his controversial book.
Reading Together coordinator Eileen Thompson says the program brings notable scholars and authors to campus to speak one-on-one with students. Thompson says that not only has Lanier’s book created vibrant faculty and student conversations on campus, but by bringing in a high-profile software researcher and developer it is also a “terrific opportunity for Lane to engage with local community members connected to the regional high-tech industries or those who are studying computer technology at any of our local colleges and universities.”
Lanier’s new book Who Owns the Future? comes out this month.
Computer scientist, composer, visual artist and author Jaron Lanier will give a public lecture and book signing at 7:30 pm May 23 at the Center for Meeting and Learning, LCC Main Campus.