It's impossible to discuss the extraordinary qualities of the Bay Area without including digital technology. It now permeates every aspect of our public and private lives. But as the dialogue becomes increasingly fanatical and we race to embrace all things new, we may be eliminating our history, and possibly our humanity. Are we paying attention? Or are we allowing ourselves to be pulled along by outside forces, without comment. Bay Area computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author of You Are Not A Gadget, Jaron Lanier, will present his observations on contemporary technological practices.
Preceding Lanier, Doug Wolens will present clips and discuss his forthcoming documentary The Singularity: Will We Survive our Technology?, which showcases the promises and perils of future technologies such as nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Many serious thinkers in the science community are wowed by the techno-utopia promises of transcending our biology, merging with our machines, and creating greater than human intelligence. The film illustrates how these technologies may be achieved very soon, and examines what they could mean to humanity.
Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author who writes on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technological practices, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics, and the future of humanism. He is the author of You Are Not A Gadget, named one of the top ten books of 2010 by The New York Times. He was also included in Time magazine's 2010 list of the hundred most influential people in the world
Lanier is probably best known for his work in Virtual Reality. He coined the term ‘Virtual Reality’ and in the early 1980s founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products. In the late 1980s he lead the team that developed the first implementations of multi-person virtual worlds using head mounted displays, for both local and wide area networks, as well as the first 'avatars', or representations of users within such systems. While at VPL, he co-developed the first implementations of virtual reality applications in surgical simulation, vehicle interior prototyping, virtual sets for television production, and assorted other areas. He led the team that developed the first widely used software platform architecture for immersive virtual reality applications.
As a musician, Lanier has been active in the world of new 'classical' music since the late seventies. He is a pianist and a specialist in unusual musical instruments, especially the wind and string instruments of Asia. He maintains one of the largest and most varied collections of actively played instruments in the world. Lanier has performed with artists as diverse as Philip Glass, Ornette Coleman, George Clinton, Vernon Reid, Terry Riley, Duncan Sheik, Pauline Oliveros, and Stanley Jordan.
Wolens has been making films since 1995. He produces, directs and edits his films and successfully self-distributed his two feature documentaries to over 100 theaters throughout the US. His filmography includes Butterfly, broadcast nationally on P.O.V., PBS's non-fiction showcase; Weed showcased at the International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam; and the short films Happy Loving Couples, selected for the Sundance Film Festival; Reversal, and In Frame, which screened at festivals around the world. Wolens teaches filmmaking at San Francisco State University's Multimedia Studies Program.