Note — Feb 10, 2019

VR and the Problem of How We Talk About Tech

Seen in → No.66

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Jaron Lanier rambles on a bit about his personal history with VR, the role of technologists, and what tech can and could do. Still an enjoyable read with some good threads in there and definitely some good quotes to ponder.

You don’t perceive the world pristinely; instead, you perceive how your personal history, philosophy, culture, and cognitive habits mix with the world out there beyond your head. […]

Technologists unambiguously make the future different from the past, irreversibly, and fast enough to have it whack us in the face in our own lifetimes, even when we’re still young. Sure, once in a while, other people can redirect history through politics, war, culture, or ideas — but technologists do it all the time. […] 🤔

Any program that can be thought of as an A.I. program can also be thought of as just a program people wrote, generally using data stolen from other people to manipulate those other people. If you think that’s too cynical an interpretation, then put the rhetoric aside and look at what A.I. programs are actually being deployed in the real world today. […]

Virtual reality was supposed to be like that. The original idea, for me at least, was that it would be a giant new space opening up that people would use to either build new bridges between each other with fabulous “post-symbolic” forms of waking state, shared dreams — or to avoid each other, as if we were in deep space, where there was plenty of room for everyone.