Jaron Lanier was one of the original pioneers of what we now call “Virtual Reality” or “Digital Reality”. However, he has now turned against his own creation fearing the effect it is having on us as individuals and as a society. To me, Lanier is emulating the Greek Mythological figure of Daedalus: The father of the better known Icarus who looks on in horror as his son crashes to earth.
The internet, and by an extension social media such as Facebook or Twitter, were made with noble purposes in mind: As a means of connecting the world together socially, economically, and culturally. In it’s infancy the world wide web seemed as though it was staying true to this philosophy but somewhere along the way something started going wrong… The fantastic mantra of “Privacy & Expression” has been hijacked by corporations and governments eager to capitalize on a service that allows them to connect to consumers on an unprecedented scale.
I’ve used this Julian Assange against Mark Zuckerberg comparison before but it really bears merit here. Assange, as the founder of WikiLeaks embodies what I believe the purpose of the internet is: To inform, to encourage debate, and to connect people. Zuckerberg by comparison may have started Facebook with genuinely good intentions for similar reasons to that of Assange but somewhere along the way he has undeniably sold out. Who did he sell out to? I think the better question to ask is “who didn’t he sell out to”? Now any company savvy with the internet can use social media like Zuckerberg’s Facebook to monitor our buying trends and access details of our lives to do so. At this point I’d like you to take a look at the above picture again and think about what the difference between these two figures is, it’s really disturbing when you think about it properly. Corporations are so subtle in slipping us even more advertising and direction in a world already saturated with it that most do not even know that it is happening. Have you ever been tagged or tagged yourself somewhere on Facebook only to get bombarded with advertising related to where you were? Have you liked a page such as EA Games or something else only to see new adverts appearing on a weekly basis? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions then you might want to stop putting so much information about yourself online, or at least in an environment where you now know corporations have access to all of your information.
Moving on from Assange and Zuckerberg it’s time to go back to Jaron Lanier (Pictured above), one of the fathers of the world wide web as we know it.
“Lanier was one of the creators of our current digital reality and now he wants to subvert the ‘hive mind’, as the web world’s been called, before it engulfs us all, destroys political discourse, economic stability, the dignity of personhood and leads to ‘social catastrophe’. Jaron Lanier is the spy who came in from the cold 2.0.”
“Lanier became the fiercest and weightiest critic of the new digital world precisely because he came from the inside. He was a heretic, an apostate rebelling against the ideology, the culture (and the cult) he helped found, and in effect, turning against himself.”
I will leave you with these two quotations but I highly suggest that you read the full article on this subject, which I have provided a link for at the head of the page.