Stanford EE Computer Systems Colloquium

4:15PM, Wednesday, September 25, 2013
NEC Auditorium, Gates Computer Science Building Room B3

Who Owns The Future?

Jaron Lanier
About the talk:

Current trends in network architecture do not support sustainable economic outcomes. Improvements in automation or efficiency can perversely lead to risks of increased unemployment instead of new kinds of employment. This is not because of any particular technology, but instead because the big data which drives most automated or hyper-efficient systems is gathered without compensating sources. A universal micropayment scheme (which revives formative notions from the birth of digital networking a half century ago) could spur economic growth, stronger middle classes, and more diverse options for entrepreneurs. Intuitions that data from ordinary people would only have negligible value are probably incorrect.


There is no downloadable version of the slides for this talk available at this time.

About the speaker:

Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author.

In the sciences:
Jaron Lanier scientific interests include biomimetic information architectures, user interfaces, heterogeneous scientific simulations, advanced information systems for medicine, and computational approaches to the fundamentals of physics. He collaborates with a wide range of scientists in fields related to these interests.

Lanier's name is also often associated with Virtual Reality research. He either coined or popularized the term 'Virtual Reality' and in the early 1980s founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products. In the late 1980s he led the team that developed the first implementations of multi-person virtual worlds using head mounted displays, for both local and wide area networks, as well as the first "avatars," or representations of users within such systems. While at VPL, he and his colleagues developed the first implementations of virtual reality applications in surgical simulation, vehicle interior prototyping, virtual sets for television production, and assorted other areas. He led the team that developed the first widely used software platform architecture for immersive virtual reality applications. Sun Microsystems acquired VPL's seminal portfolio of patents related to Virtual Reality and networked 3D graphics in 1999.

From 1997 to 2001, Lanier was the Chief Scientist of Advanced Network and Services, which contained the Engineering Office of Internet2, and served as the Lead Scientist of the National Tele-immersion Initiative, a coalition of research universities studying advanced applications for Internet2. The Initiative demonstrated the first prototypes of tele-immersion in 2000 after a three-year development period. From 2001 to 2004 he was Visiting Scientist at Silicon Graphics Inc., where he developed solutions to core problems in telepresence and tele-immersion. He was Scholar at Large for Microsoft from 2006 to 2009, and Partner Architect at Microsoft Research from 2009 forward.

Lanier has received honorary doctorates from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Franklin and Marshall College, was the recipient of CMU's Watson award in 2001, was a finalist for the first Edge of Computation Award in 2005, and received a Lifetime Career Award from the IEEE in 2009 for contributions to Virtual Reality.

Lanier is a well-known author and speaker. Time Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010. His book "You are not a gadget" was released in 2010 and was named one of the 10 best books of the year by Michiko Kakutani in the NY Times. He writes and speaks on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technological practices, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics, and the future of humanism. His lecture client list has included most of the well-known high technology firms as well as many others in the energy, automotive, and financial services industries. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Discover (where he has been a columnist), The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Harpers Magazine, The Sciences, Wired Magazine (where he was a founding contributing editor), and Scientific American. He has edited special "future" issues of SPIN and Civilization magazines. He is one of the 100 "remarkable people" of the Global Business Network. In 2005 Lanier was selected as one of the top one hundred public intellectuals in the world by readers of Prospect and Foreign Policy magazines.

As a musician, Lanier has been active in the world of new "classical" music since the late seventies. He is a pianist and a specialist in unusual musical instruments, especially the wind and string instruments of Asia. He maintains one of the largest and most varied collections of actively played rare instruments in the world.

Visual Art:
Lanier's paintings and drawings have been exhibited in museums and galleries in the United States and Europe. In 2002 he co-created (with Philippe Parreno) an exhibit illustrating how aliens might perceive humans for the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris. In 1994 he directed the film "Muzork" under a commission from ARTE Television. His 1983 "Moondust" (which he programmed in 6502 assembly) is generally regarded as the first art video game, and the first interactive music publication. He has presented installations in New York City, including the "Video Feedback Waterbed" and the "Time-accelerated Painting," which was situated in the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage. His first one man show took place in 1997 at the Danish Museum for Modern Art in Roskilde. He helped make up the gadgets and scenarios for the 2002 science fiction movie Minority Report by Steven Spielberg.

Celebrity fluff:
The Encyclopaedia Britannica (but certainly not the Wikipedia) includes him in its list of history's 300 or so greatest inventors. The nation of Palau has issued a postage stamp in his honor. Various television documentaries have been produced about him, such as "Dreadlocks and Digital Dreamworlds" by Tech TV in 2002. The 1992 movie Lawnmower Man was in part based on him and his early laboratory- he was played by Piers Brosnan. He has appeared on national television many times, on shows such as "The News Hour," "Nightline," and "Charlie Rose," and has been profiled multiple times on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Contact information:

Jaron Lanier