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Green Tech Outlier Jaron Lanier: The E Conscience of Cyber Humanism

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In a world of bits and bites and 24/7 text me, message me blogosphere, philosophy is not dead as they say. It's just downplayed to proliferate the role of computer science in a finite future. Now that digital comp electricity connects us all and our PC era TV sets are watching us watch each other, there has to be a way to maintain a simple life in the face of technological overkill. Or that divisive device which brings us all together in virtual reality but pulls us apart physically as social media shapes the whole of online existence with no sum of real life living parts as in days gone by.

Jaron Lanier, Renaissance Man pioneer of VR tech and expert authority on neo classical music, is a humanities philosopher for techies, the voice of populist reason in a new digital age where we talk at machines and not to each other. His books like You Are Not A Gadget and Who Owns The Future? guard against a computer world where E collective crowd sharing devalues individualist identity and creative mobility. Versus the one way street flow of ideas, he laments that which lumps us all into lemmings who lunch while collective freebie software wisdom robs the credit and profit of little guy input.

Unheard of in the days of physical media formats where no valued product was to be had without compensation, the computer epochal idea of a free content paradigm for mass convenience consumption takes away the ability of sole professionals be paid for contributions so that information technology is judged as something to be given away for nothing. In which case, only those who own the wires or satellite means of transmission are enriched. This is content farm sharecropping and those who invent the newest dot com portal fad do so as more a matter of fate than innovation.

Lanier, the enlightened progeny of religious refugees who escaped WW2 horrors, fears a cybernetic totalism where technocrat absolutism limits web interaction to geek thought and techie speak. That leads to a compu-nerd control of the E zeitgeist with non robotic human deviation from accepted netiquette norms not allowed. With no counter balance protection for the right to think outside the box or mainstream, this E bot mentality is a disheartening sign in the computer age. Technology should make our lives easier without dominating them so we can't socially function without E toys.

Jaron wants a moral cyber mindscape and not one that is used for digital distancing, wag the dog social media and millennial pop culture that diverts us from issues that matter. He challenges open culture sharing as an anonymous cryptic whole that downsizes our humanity due to the lack of personal interaction. He fears that cyberspacial communication is becoming a monolithic standard that serves words and statements and trivializes the identity of real people. With less focus on creative productivity and more conflict for the troll in us all, we are what we say and not who we are.

All at once, JL is a one man check and balance act of our digital times, a genius who sees forest trees of E gains at one with instant contact as detrimental to our lost humanity. Back in the days of the first idiot box, kids played outside all day and were not tethered to the boob tube 24/7. Today we are all addicted to E machines and becoming extensions of them as a result. The PC revolution of electric talk and interpersonal inaction has turned us into gadget drones who only communicate as the new reality of what you're saying and doing takes precedence over living life itself.


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