‘Dawn Of The New Everything’ Argues For Human-Centered Technology

With virtual reality rigs like the Oculus finally finding their way into people’s homes, it’s a perfect time to look back on the birth of a technology that almost didn’t exist. Dawn of the New Everything is techie guru Jaron Lanier’s attempt to explain the origins of VR, both technically and philosophically. He’s the perfect person to tell this story, too: Lanier founded a company called VPL Research in the 1980s that sold the first VR development kits to scientists, government contractors, and Hollywood studios. Lanier became so famous for his VR work that he even inspired even a cheesy 1990s science fiction movie — Lawnmower Man, which features VPL technology and lots of really awful CGI cybersex. In Dawn of the New Everything, which is part-memoir, part-manifesto, Lanier takes us back to the early days of personal computing, when almost anything seemed possible. Growing up in a geodesic dome that he designed with his father in the New Mexico desert, Lanier was obsessed early on with avant-garde music and the imaginary worlds of Hieronymus Bosch. After dropping out of high school at 14, he dabbled in computer science classes at a local college, raised goats, played music, and eventually went to art school in New York. After he followed a girlfriend to California, he finally figured out he could make money by programming computers. Read more here…

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