Jaron Lanier

Scientist, Musician, Visual Artist & Author of Who Owns the Future?

A Renaissance Man for the 21st century, Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, artist, and author who writes on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technology, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics, and the future of humanism. Lanier’s most recent book is Who Owns the Future? He offers a critical and insightful perspective in his talks on big data: who owns the data, what it all means for our society, and the quest for a sustainable digital economy. Lanier looks at the large patterns shaping digital world, such as the 2008 financial crisis, NSA surveillance, and the implementation of healthcare.gov. Who Owns the Future? remains an international bestseller, and was declared the most important book of 2013 by Joe Nocera in The New York Times and was on the Amazon 2013 Best Books of the Year list. It has also been awarded Harvard’s 2014 Goldsmith Book Prize. The impact of Who Owns the Future? was celebrated prominently in Europe when Lanier was awarded the 2014 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, one of the highest literary honors in the world.

Jaron Lanier has been on the cusp of technological innovation from its infancy to the present. A pioneer in virtual reality (a term he coined), Lanier founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products, and led teams creating VR applications for medicine, design, and numerous other fields. He is currently Interdisciplinary Scientist at Microsoft Research. He was a founder or principal of startups that were acquired by Google, Adobe, Oracle, and Pfizer. In 2010, Lanier was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. In recent years he has also been named one of top one hundred public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy magazine, one of the top 50 World Thinkers by Prospect magazine, and one of history’s 300 or so greatest inventors in the Encyclopedia Britannica. In 2009 Jaron Lanier received a Lifetime Career Award from the IEEE, the preeminent international engineering society.

Jaron Lanier’s first book, You Are Not a Gadget, A Manifesto, was a New York TimesLos Angeles Times, and Boston Globe bestseller. The book was chosen as one of the best books of the year by Time Magazine and The New York Times, and won top honors at the San Francisco Book Festival. Michiko Kakutani, writing in The New York Times called Lanier’s book “Lucid, powerful and persuasive... Necessary reading for anyone interested in how the Web and the software we use every day are reshaping culture and the marketplace.” In the spring of 2015 Jaron Lanier published an ebook version of a collection of essays entitled Wenn Träume Erwachsen Werden (When Dreams Grow Up). His most recent book is Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality (Henry Holt & Company, November 2017).

Lanier’s writing appears in DiscoverThe Wall Street JournalForbesHarpers MagazineAtlanticWired Magazine (where he was a founding contributing editor), and Scientific American. He has appeared on TV shows such as PBS NewsHourThe Colbert ReportNightline and Charlie Rose, and has been profiled on the front pages of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times multiple times.

Jaron Lanier is also a musician and artist. He has been active in the world of new “classical” music since the late ‘70s, and writes chamber and orchestral works. He is a pianist and a specialist in unusual and historical musical instruments, and maintains one of the largest and most varied collections of actively played instruments in the world. Recent works include a symphony with full choral settings about William Shakespeare’s contemporary and friend Amelia Lanier, commissioned for the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park. He has performed with a wide range of musicians, including Philip Glass, Yoko Ono, Ornette Coleman, George Clinton, and Steve Reich. He composes and performs frequently on film soundtracks. Credits include composer on Sean Penn’s 2010 documentary, The Third Wave, and principle instrumental performer for Richard Horowitz’s score for Three Seasons (1999), which won both the Audience and Grand Jury awards at Sundance. Lanier’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited in museums and galleries in the United States and Europe.

Photo: Jonathan Sprague

Session Info

Monday, June 18 1:30 pm – 2:15 pm Room 205BC

People Mixing in a Mixed World: The Applications of Social Mixed Reality

There has been much done and said about the applications of Virtual Reality, including multi-user scenarios. Indeed, this speaker and his 1980’s startup pioneered many of the familiar app categories, including surgical simulation, vehicle prototyping, interior design, and so on. It’s taken a long time and lot of effort, but now that appropriate devices such as HoloLens are available, apps for Mixed Reality are finally in broad development. These include facilities management, field documentation/training, and on-site design and prototyping. But what about social mixed reality? In that case, applications research is less well known.

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