A renaissance man for the 21st century, Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, artist, and author who writes on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technology, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics, and the future of humanism. Lanier’s most recent book is “Who Owns the Future?”, winner of the 2014 Goldsmith Book Prize.
Lanier has been on the cusp of technological innovation since its infancy. A pioneer in virtual reality (a term he coined), he founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products, and led teams creating VR applications for medicine, design, and numerous other fields. He is currently a computer scientist at Microsoft Research. In 2010, Lanier was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. He has also been named one of top 100 public intellectuals in the world by Prospect and Foreign Policy magazines. In 2009, Lanier received a Lifetime Career Award from the IEEE, the preeminent international engineering society.
Lanier’s writing appears in Discover, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Harpers Magazine, Atlantic, Wired magazine (where he was a founding contributing editor), and Scientific American. He has appeared on TV shows such as PBS NewsHour, Nightline, and Charlie Rose, and has been profiled on the front pages of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Lanier is also a musician and artist. He has been active in the world of new “classical” music since the late ‘70s, and writes chamber and orchestral works. A pianist and a specialist in unusual and historical musical instruments, he has performed with a wide range of musicians, including Philip Glass, Yoko Ono, Ornette Coleman, George Clinton, and Steve Reich. He composes and performs frequently on film soundtracks. Lanier’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited in museums and galleries in the United States and Europe.
Photo by Jonathan Sprague