Jaron Lanier debates Will Wright

Accelerating Change 2004
50 minutes, 23.1mb, recorded 2004-11-07
"Finding Humanity in the Interface: Capacity Atrophy or Augmentation?" A debate between Jaron Lanier and Will Wright, moderated by Mark Finnern from the Accelerating Change 2004 conference.

As our interfaces get continually smarter, how do we keep them from dehumanizing us? Should we be concerned that U.S. youth have had forty years of declining math, science, and analytical reading skills? Do we need 1960's math skills in a world with ubiquitous calculators, or reading skills in a world with digital cable? Or thinking skills in a world with intelligent text analytics?

Jaron Lanier is the Founder of VPL Research and Advisor to the National Tele-Immersion Initiative; he is also a Computer Scientist, Composer and Artist. Lanier notes: Computer people are sounding a lot like religious people these days. Meanwhile, old time religious people seem to distrust the scientific program more and more. Would stem cell research have been restricted if it had come up twenty years ago? Religion has a way of sneaking up on you, and so do religious wars. It takes two to fight a war, and digital culture still has time to shut this war down. All that we need is a little humility, honesty, and the very hard work of designing computers for the sake of people instead of the easier work of designing computers for the sake of computers.

Will Wright is a Co-Founder of Maxis; and Creator of Sim City. Wright's social simulation game, The Sims, has become the best-selling PC game of all time. In 1999 he was included in Entertainment Weekly’s "It List" of "the 100 most creative people in entertainment" as well as Time Digital’s "Digital 50", a listing of "the most important people shaping technology today."

Moderator Mark Finnern manages the Collaboration Area of the fastest growing SAP Community: The SAP Developer Network. Mark is also the founder and host of the Bay Area Future Salon, co-producer of the Accelerating Change 2004 conference, and blogger for the O'Reilly Network.

This presentation was recorded at Accelerating Change 2004, November 5-7, 2004. Check here for the complete Accelerating Change archives.

This free podcast is from our Accelerating Change series.