Guest Speaker Jaron Lanier
"Who Owns the Future?"
On Wednesday, October 26, as part of the Humanities Center's FUTURES Speakers Series, Jaron Lanier discussed his professional experiences and ideas about today's digital environment in his talk "Who Owns the Future?" based on his latest best seller of the same name.
Jaron Lanier was the 2014 winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, whose president introduced him as an "American musician, artist and computer scientist [and] one of the fiercest critics of digital capitalism." Lanier's latest best seller is Who Owns the Future?, hailed by the New York Times' Joe Nocera as "the most important book I read in 2013." Lanier, along with a few colleagues, sold a start-up to Google and he currently holds a research post in Microsoft's labs.
In a recent talk called "High Tech Peace Will Need A New Kind Of Humanism," Lanier spoke about the future in the following, highly accessible way: "As boring as it might seem to be at first, moderation is actually both the most fascinating and promising path forward. We are constantly presented with contrasts between old and new, and we are asked to choose. Should we support old-fashioned taxis and their old-fashioned benefits for drivers or new types of services like Uber that offer digital efficiencies? These choices are false choices! The only ethical option is to demand a synthesis of the best of pre-digital and digital designs."
For those on the tech side of what we may erroneously imagine as a hard, line-in-the-sand Humanities/STEM divide, he throws down the following gauntlet: "If you are a technology creator, please consider this: If you need to rely on dignity destruction as a crutch in order to demonstrate a new efficiency through digital networking, it only means you're not good at the technology. You are cheating. Really efficient technological designs should improve both service and dignity for people at the same time."
Jaron Lanier plays one of his ancient wind instruments from his personal collection.
For more information about Mr. Lanier, please visit: Jaron Lanier.