I’m still taking a hiatus from the blog, but nevertheless, I wanted to share what VR pioneer, computer guru, and author Jaron Lanier (whom I have blogged about before) has to say about the dangers of social media to individual mental health and to society at large.
In a media report from ZeroHedge titled “Delete Your Account” Warns Virtual Reality Founding Father:
Lanier explained in a recent UK Channel 4 interview:
When you watch the television the television isn’t watching you. When you see the billboard the billboard isn’t seeing you… When you use these new designs — social media, search, YouTube — when you see these things, you’re being observed constantly and algorithms are taking that information and changing what you see next.
Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now according to his book:
1) You are losing your free will.
2) Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times.
3) Social media is making you an asshole.
4) Social media is undermining truth.
5) Social media is making what you say meaningless.
6) Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy.
7) Social media is making you unhappy.
8) Social media doesn’t want you to have economic dignity.
9) Social media is making politics impossible.
10) Social media hates your soul.
I’d like to encourage all of you to watch the Channel 4 interview via the link above. I am probably going to buy and read Jaron’s new book soon. His thinking on this subject seems to align with other recent criticisms of the negative impact of social media, and with my own experience. I used to be a firm and fervent believer in the power of social media, but no longer. And I am seriously thinking about giving up—or at least heavily scaling back—my own social media activity.
I got to the Delphi Talks event early, so I could grab a good seat near the front. I opted to stay in desktop mode rather use my VR headset, and use Sinespace’s built-in snapshot tool to take pictures, like the one below:
Check out Sinespace employee Sun Tzu’s centaur warrior avatar (above image, right). The detail on his outfit is AMAZING. Sinespace has really improved their avatar appearance in the last few updates to the client software!
Jaron showed up a little late, due to real life traffic. His avatar is the octopus with the dreadlocks in the pictures below:
Among many other topics, Jaron talked about the artwork from the medieval era as a sort of precursor to today’s virtual reality. He was also rather disturbed by Facebook’s purchase of Oculus. He still hasn’t seen the movie Ready Player One, and he talked about bringing VR to Hollywood and giving demos back in the 1980s, when it was super expensive to recreate what we now have as relatively commonplace, consumer-level VR.
Here is a link to the livestream of the event.
This is just a reminder that virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier will be speaking at the Delphi Talks in Sinespace this afternoon, Friday, May 25th, at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time. You do need to RSVP to attend this session, at the link provided above. This is a rescheduling of the original event, which had to be cancelled due to technical problems. They had a really good turnout on that first attempt to hold the event, so I would urge people to get there early to get a good seat!
Jaron Lanier will be interviewed by Wagner James Au of the long-running blog New World Notes. Jaron will discuss his book, which charts three decades of VR, and tells the story of the enormity of what we are witnessing as the medium impacts our lives. The talk will also touch on Jaron’s work as an interdisciplinary scientist at Microsoft, and his thoughts on the latest generation of VR technology and social platforms.
This might be late notice to some of you, but Sinespace is hosting an interview with VR pioneer Jaron Lanier today, Tuesday, April 3rd, at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time. You do need to register in order to gain access to this event; you can do that on this page.
As I previously mentioned, the Delphi Talks are a regularly scheduled series of guest speakers on a variety of topics, held in a specially constructed stadium within the virtual world of Sinespace. Jaron will join The Delphi Talks from his Californian base, to talk about his new book, his philosophy of virtual reality, and perhaps share some insights from his work at Microsoft Research.
UPDATE 7:05 p.m.: While waiting for the show to start, I took a few pictures of the Delphi Talks arena where the talk was to take place, using Sinespace’s built-in Snapshot tool:
There were 55 avatars present, an impressive turnout! The Sinespace avatars look noticeably better now with the most recent update of the client software (I still prefer the Sansar avatars, though). While we were waiting, Sirishkumar Manji played the Indian drums for us (he’s seated in the centre of the red circular rug), which was quite entertaining. I want to know how he got his hand movements to sync up so well with the actual drumbeats! It was almost like watching a live performance.
Finally, after a 35-minute delay, an apology was issued: the announcer regretted to inform us that Jaron Lanier’s graphics card had failed and he was unable to join us. Therefore the interview will be rescheduled to a later date. Too bad!