Jaron Lanier

Computer scientist

Jaron Lanier is one of the formative figures in Virtual Reality technology. He and his friends started the first company to sell VR products in the early 1980s. They manufactured and sold the first commercial gear (such as VR headsets) and created the first implementations of multi-person vr experiences, first avatars, real time surgical simulation, VR vehicle prototyping, virtual sets for television production, and assorted other firsts.  He either coined or popularized the term Virtual Reality, depending on how you think about it, as well as the term Mixed Reality He’s had many other roles related to computer science, such as being the chief scientist of the engineering office of Internet2 in the 1990s.
Jaron also writes books, including You Are Not a Gadget, Who Owns the Future, Dawn of the New Everything, and Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.  His writing expresses a path towards sustainable digital economics and humanism in high tech culture. He won the German Peace Prize for books as well as many other awards. He’s been a concept consultant on sci-fi movies like Minority Report and The Circle.
He also plays a zillion musical instruments and has a huge collection of exotic ones. He’s played with Philip Glass, Ornette Coleman, Yoko Ono, George Clinton, and many other interesting musicians. He collaborates with varied scientists at the edge of computation. He and his friends have spun off startups that are now parts of Google, Adobe, Oracle, and Pfizer. He’s currently the “octopus” at Microsoft, which does stand for something:  Office of the Chief Technology Officer Prime Unifying Scientist.