Comparative Illusions

Jaron Lanier on the Potential of Virtual RealityJaron Lanier

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Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, businessman, and author. Best known for his work in Virtual Reality (VR), Lanier not only coined the term but also co-invented fundamental VR components such as interface gloves and VR networking. The following is adapted from an interview conducted by Maria Wilhelm in Lanier's Sausalito studio last August.

Compassion and empathy are vital as strategies for achieving anything of value in the future; they also constitute of and in themselves the reason why the future is worthwhile. The question is, Can you ever do anything to influence someone's level of empathy and compassion? I'm really not sure.

One of the interesting things about Buddhism is the notion that certain types of practice, which are on the face of them value neutral, can actually lead to the development of compassion. On a social level, it seems that media technologies, with their McLuhanesque properties, might very well be our collective "practice."

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