Jaron Lanier

American computer scientist, musician, and author

Jaron Lanier (born 3 May 1960) is an American computer scientist, musician, and writer on technology and society. He is considered one of the pioneers of virtual reality.

Jaron Lanier


  • We should treat computers as fancy telephones, whose purpose is to connect people. Information is alienated experience. Information is not something that exists. Indeed, computers don't really exist, exactly; they're only subject to human interpretation. This is a strong primary humanism I am promoting. As long as we remember that we ourselves are the source of our value, our creativity, our sense of reality, then all of our work with computers will be worthwhile and beautiful.
    • Digerati: Encounters With the Cyber Elite, (1996), ed. by John Brockman

"One Half of a Manifesto," The New Humanists: Science at the Edge (2003)

John Brockman, Editor
  • I'm hoping the reader can see that artificial intelligence is better understood as a belief system than as a technology.
  • The quest to rationally prove the possibility of sentience in a computer (or perhaps in the Internet) is the modern version of proving God's existence. ...eventually a cybernetically minded twenty-first century version of Kant will appear in order to present a tedious "proof" that such adventures are futile.
  • People are demonstrably insane when it comes to assessing human sentience.
  • There has been over a decade of work worldwide in Darwinian approaches to generating software, and... nothing has arisen from the work that would make software in general any better.
  • If anything, there's a reverse Moore's Law observable in software: As processors become faster and memory becomes cheaper, software becomes correspondingly slower and more bloated, using up all available resources.
  • Software breaks before it bends, so it demands perfection in a universe that prefers statistics.
  • Evolution has never found a way to be any speed but very slow.
  • The problem is that in every example we know, a layer that can change fast also can't change very much.
  • The great thing about crummy software is the amount of employment it generates.
  • There is no difference between machine autonomy and the abdication of human responsibility.
  • The greatest crime of Marxism wasn't simply that much of what it claimed was false but that it claimed to be the sole and utterly complete path to understanding life and reality.
  • There is nothing more gray, stultifying, or dreary than life lived inside the confines of a theory.

Who owns the future? (2013)

  • Digital information is really just people in disguise.
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: