Jaron Lanier is considered the most influential critical thinkers of the digital age. The computer scientist, composer and painter, born 1960, the son of Jewish immigrants in New York, has coined the term virtual reality and warned in his thesis for individuality in a certain algorithms of information society before irretrievable dependence on technology. In German translation appeared last “gadget. Why the future we still need” (Suhrkamp, 2010) and “Who owns the future, then you’re not the customer of the Internet companies. You are their product” (Hoffmann und Campe, 2014). On Sunday Lanier is the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade awarded.
Colossus prison, with majestic covered dark blond dreadlocks sits Jaron Lanier as an overtired mythical creatures in a baroque chair in front of a bookshelves in the Frankfurter Hof. In Berkeley, where he lives, it is about nine hours earlier four clock in the morning, a few days ago he gave a long concert with Philip Glass. If Lanier speaks, he looks out of bright, calm eyes, which still does not change when he, every five or six minutes, a high, shrill laugh laughs.
The World: Mr. Lanier, I would like to record our conversation with my iPhone. Does that bother you
Jaron Lanier: Oh, I have nothing against it. You will not even want to start about to shoot me, right? Probably I would have no problem, but there are so many poorly made, trash-like videos that go through at once as journalistic articles. Sometimes I think the traditional media weaken themselves online through this material abundance. Are there not at once much more bad, sloppy written texts online
The World: You sound resigned. ” / p>
Jaron Lanier: Okay. Probably we should see in this abundance is also a positive development. Perhaps our media, if they want to be democratic, today look easy
The world. Let’s talk about the origin your skepticism speak. What do you have against algorithms
Jaron Lanier: You must return briefly to the times of the fifties, sixties and seventies. Crucial: There were these greed, an almost cult-like tracked need to create artificial intelligence. The problem with this was: we computer scientists have never really manage it. Instead, we get big data. Do not forget: A computer is never in and of itself there; you always need people to bring machines up and running. But who pays homage to the cult of the computer, it hides: their rights and their economic needs – you start to believe that there is a magical force in the technology, whose only thinking Compared to the “crowd” is, whether, in Facebook Google or Wikipedia is expressed. Clear: they all have their benefits and their place but in the idea of ”crowd” put a prevention strategy – you no longer have to deal with the fact that real people do real work. It is an economic system that looks democratic, but it is not. If you ask me, what bothers me, it’s that devotion to a supposedly wise thinking “crowd”. I think by the way, the deeper reason behind it is that everyone wants to be immortal
The world. What do you mean
Jaron Lanier: There is a new religion in Silicon Valley: It says, if our technology is advanced enough brings us even immortality. This is not a niche phenomenon, which is embodied by a handful of crazy freaks, but really visible in the mainstream: the desire for constant self-optimization or even in Google’s reinforced investing in companies that are working on life extension measures. In Silicon Valley computer technology is treated like a religion – it’s almost like in the Catholic Church; have their own rituals, bishops and, of course, inquisitions. This attitude is just as human as ancient
The world. Explain how this religion arise precisely between the rationality of computers could. And why she is busy catholic for you and not Protestant or Anglican
Jaron Lanier: For this kind of religiosity there a very specific reason and is the life story of Alan Turing, in the story of how he cracked as a gay computer pioneer the Enigma code and was tortured and finally killed. Turing invented the intellectual concept of artificial intelligence. He has, I think, is trying to create a world that lies beyond the issues of identity, sexuality, Beurteiltwerden by others. He wanted to create a pure, platonic way of being. If you read his notes, refers to the cultural-philosophical background of artificial intelligence
The world. You are still an active part of the scene they criticize. They are working on various research projects and advise companies in Silicon Valley. When did you become a skeptic and so
Jaron Lanier: It’s hard to say. Marvin Minsky was certainly my most important mentor with his behavioral psychological considerations to artificial intelligence. But at some point was also Douglas Engelbart, who invented the mouse, among other things, more formative for me. He always stressed that it would be nonsense, easy to improve computer only for its own sake and that you have to keep the people in mind.
The World: Why are you computer has become so important, so close
Jaron Lanier: Oh, are my computer really close? I do not think so. At my house in Berkeley is not so much computer stuff, mainly because are more than two hundred instruments. A rule that is confirmed in Silicon Valley again: The more someone has shaped the world of computers, the less he has himself at home. Steve Jobs had a single computer on his desk, that’s it. Technology is best when used sparingly. As a homoöpatisches means. But of course you’re right: I love computers, yes
The world. When did this love – you were a nerdhaftes ? child
Jaron Lanier: I’m writing a book that is also an autobiography in part. I do not intend to give too much away! But I grew up in New Mexico, near the White Sands Missile Range, one of the largest military test facilities in the country, has somehow influenced me. . Telescopes and my father
The World: Frankfurt and the world of books are quite far away from Silicon Valley. If you think from this distance: Which topic is there to determine the near future? Data Privacy, Privacy, Google, self-optimization
Jaron Lanier: Difficult question – the whole complex is an emotional issue, just the question of privacy and what it is actually today, that something is “private” or “personal”. For me it is closely associated, NSA, big data, algorithms
The world. you connect various questions about a moral argument
Jaron Lanier:. Sure. At least I hope that our discussion is a moral! Computer companies can define companies today. I find this problematic. Even though I like them, those are all my friends. Computer companies are in themselves not evil
The World: How would you describe yourself – as a critic, observer. or, as some you see, especially in Germany, warning Messiah
Jaron Lanier: Good question. I’m not a cultural critic or Internet theorist, I’m just a mitdenkender practitioners. I’ve initiated with many of the developments that I criticize now. For a long time I thought, for example, it is good for all, be made freely available music. That was it not. I just change my mind, if it is to reason, I think that’s a good thing. I also see not as part of a scene or critical movement. I’m just a computer scientist who also writes
The world. Her latest book, “For whom the future belongs” You have dedicated your daughter and how you write, “those with whom they will grow up.” How is that meant – you worry “digital natives” to the younger generation of
Jaron Lanier: Of course I’m I worry about the next generation – that makes it any which humanity would hardly survive otherwise. But I’m not avuncular concern for the youth of today. Nor do I believe that the digital generation gap is as large as it is called. What I’m doing a lot more thought to me, is the economy of sharing, in which children are big now. Do not expect anything more, no collateral, but only special offers. Sometimes it reminds me of life today as scenes of HG Wells. There are two classes: the one creating promotions of sharing and Earning millions, others have to sleep on this sharing services sofas offered
. World: We’re sitting here pretty alteuropäisch between books to us are around authors, publishers, booksellers. What do you mean the price that will be presented on Sunday
Jaron Lanier: Uff. I do not know what am I supposed to respond. It’s a surprise. And of course great. My colleagues from the computer world have not quite understood what that actually means, but my author friends were all excited.