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Will Wright Vs. Jaron Lanier on Our Human Future 20

Jerry23 writes "At Accelerating Change 2004 (November 5-7 at Stanford University), Virtual Reality pioneer Jaron Lanier and Sims creator Will Wright will face each other in a debate entitled "Finding Humanity in the Interface: Capacity Atrophy or Augmentation?" As our interfaces get continually smarter, how do we keep them from dehumanizing us? Can we avoid the world of MT Anderson's masterful dystopia, Feed (2002), where the Internet-jacked, childlike teens of 2030 speak pidgin English and live primarily as vehicles for highly sophisticated and automated corporate marketing and political programming?"
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Will Wright Vs. Jaron Lanier on Our Human Future

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  • I would think.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @11:48AM (#10587776) Homepage
    that as the interfaces get smarter, they are more humanizing than any before them. Compare the computer interfaces of today with the punch card. I'd say that we've been on an upward trend for quite some time.

    I'm waiting for tablet PCs to take off, myself.

  • Cred (Score:3, Interesting)

    by khaladan ( 445 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @12:08PM (#10588012)
    Jaron Lanier has been a "virtual reality pioneer" for a really, really long time now. Is he going to do anything else?

    At least Will Wright done something interesting lately in making a popular game.
    • by sien ( 35268 )
      You have to wonder what he is going to do. But he got stuck doing VR and seems to have done reasonably well for himself since then.

      Have you seen him speak though? He actually has some interesting things to say.

      He spoke at MMVR once and basically came out and poured cold water on everyone's dreams of producing useful simulators for nothing in the next 6 months. It was pretty brave and well worth saying.

      He does some stuff with UNC-CH too.
    • Re:Cred (Score:3, Funny)

      by QuantumG ( 50515 )
      more commonly refered to as "that virtual reality wanker".
  • Typo (Score:2, Funny)

    "...childlike teens of 2030 speak pidgin English and live primarily as vehicles for highly sophisticated and automated corporate marketing and political programming"
    Should have read "2004", not "2030". Don't they read these before they put them up?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think that giving that sort of technology to kids at the age of 3 is over the top - it wouldn't be a problem if the technology wasn't so "adult-oriented". At the moment even toys are totally electronic - it's hard to even find a teddy bear without a builtin microchip. I think there should be a limit to which we want those things to happen. It affects child's development, usually in a negative way. The thinking process becomes algorithmized and highly linear - very bad thing for humans - we thrive thanks t
  • by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @01:44PM (#10589645)
    We don't even know for sure what it is that makes us humans, otherwise, philosophy would use the scientific method and most philosophers would agree with each other.

    I think that as we invent new tools, those tools will make us evolve further, thus enabling us to invent better tools and further evolving...

    This is what's been happening since we discovered how to make fire all by ourselves.
    • I agree. We won't be dehumanized, we'll be re-humanized.

      Somebody from fifty years ago, a hundred, two hundred, would probably think, were they transported suddenly to now, that a certain element of humanity has been lost. Phones dehumanized us, industrialization dehumanized us, urbification dehumanized us, and so on.

      Crap. It altered what humanity is. That which does not grow, which does not change, will stagnate and die. Entropy and all that.

    • I think that as we invent new tools, those tools will make us evolve further, thus enabling us to invent better tools and further evolving...

      This is what's been happening since we discovered how to make fire all by ourselves.

      Our culture has certainly evolved since then, but have our genes? I would guess that we are slightly less hairy than when we first controlled fire. We are taller than we were in past centuries, but this is probably from a better diet.

      • The thing about evolution that bugs me is, we have seen the results from the fossil record, but we haven't seen it in action yet (apart from our genetic engineering -- which is artificial, if you consider humans as outside of "natural" evolutionary forces).

        How do we determine whether or not humans are evolving, as a species? Where do we put the thresholds?

        IMO we can only use comparison, but the human genome mapping is a recent endeavor, so we'll have to wait quite a few generations before a meaningful com
        • Us silly humans trying to fit things into scales that we can comprehend. Evolution will always occur, as there will always be determinates of fitness. I really doubt that we will see much in 1 or 10 generations, but long after we pass, if humans have not yet killed themselves, we will be biologically different. Perhaps in 6000 years we may look back at the pitiful little earthbound creatures from the oldest books that look a bit like us (neanderthal comparison? yeah we weren't related, but in terms of si
    • Actually tools are exactly why we as a species dont really evolve anymore. In fact some anthropologists are worried about us devolving..or at least evolving undesirably. For example many predict that the narrowing of womens hips will mean the c-sections will be the normal way of giving birth for the next generation.

      Tools allow us to do two thing. Firstly they allow us to change our environment and secondly they allow us to survive when we wouldnt before. Both these things means that there is essentialy n
    • We don't even know for sure what it is that makes us humans, otherwise, philosophy would use the scientific method and most philosophers would agree with each other.

      What does that sentence even mean?

      1. We know just fine what makes us humans. It's just a label, and right now at a least, it's a very easy label to apply. There might eventually be some confusion over the point if we eventually have mind uploading or true AI or something, but we don't.

      2. It is absolutely not a sign of maturity or distinction


  • has little to do with technology. Read this for more info:

    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.ht m

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