Co-founder of Virtual Reality Jaron Lanier Wants a Mulligan
Jaron Lanier is a genius. That is an indisputable fact. He’s one of the smartest people on the planet. He’s one of the people who invented virtual reality and brought to you in the form of the first VR googles. He’s one of the last surviving examples of an unregenerated New Age personality, you know, the people who tried to put the wants and needs of humanity ahead of their own personal wants and needs ( or at least that’s what we told ourselves at the time.)
Now, having helped to create the intellectual environment we’re living in, Jaron Lanier wants a Mulligan, a re-do. He wants to change the working paradigm that underwrites the cost of the internet away from advertising and onto a pay as you go methodology because, if you pay as you use the services you want from the internet, you will purchase only what you need while eliminating the manipulative advertising to which we are all exposed.
You can’t make a living on the internet unless you charge fees or carry advertising, unless you are willing to remain in a dark, empty corner of the internet, unseen, unheard, unread and unloved.
You have to ask yourself: why do I do this? Why do I use the Internet at all?
Speaking purely for myself, I use it to shop and compare prices on the products and services I actually need and since I live in a needs-based personal economy, all of the ads that Google and Facebook and their cohort try to entice me with are simply a waste of money for the advertisers because their advertising simply cannot convert a subsistence level consumer into an impulse driven consumer.
The second thing I use the internet for is to gather information on the subjects that interest me where, once again, I tend to go to the most objective sources available, such as[professionally written and edited Encyclopedia Britannica as opposed to the crowd-sourced Wikipedia. Once again, however, I am in the market for facts, not opinions, but it takes a great of work to sift through the wealth of opinion to find the kernels of fact that you need when you are looking for data.
However, I am also aware that, despite copious amounts of research, my articles end up being compendium of opinions rather than recitations of facts because, in the end, all facts are just the most popular opinions in each category of thought.
We are in a very frightening moment in history that may in fact be the end of history as we have always known history, as a compendium of facts, leaving us only with collections of opinions. Granted, those facts were made into facts by the people who controlled the printing presses, but that at least gave us a version of reality that we all recognized as the prevailing version of reality.
Now, we have multiple, competitive and often mutually exclusive compendiums of opinions and no mechanism to authoritatively confirm any set of opinions as “the truth” because there will always be other groups of people who will not accept the beliefs you embrace.
This equates to cognitive dissonance on a truly global scale and, just as no organism can live in its own waste products, no civilization can endure an environment of total cognitive dissonance…but that’s where we are heading.
This bodes upon fears about artificial intelligence taking civilization away from the human race. That is an absurd thing to worry about because it has already happened. The machines are already the arbiters of our beliefs. We turn to the machines to confirm or invalidate the data that we consume, so the machines are already controlling us.
There’s just one area where we beat the machines hands-down and that’s when it comes down to consumption. Machines don’t buy things. Machines don’t own possessions. Machines don’t covet more or better possessions. Therefore, any consumerist civilization that does away with workers, also does away with consumers, and once you have done away with the human consumer, technological civilization will simply cease to exist because there will be no one left to buy the products that generate the profits that pay the bills
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