A tech futurist, researcher and writer, he is well placed to act as guide to the world described in Dawn of the New Everything ... Compared to today’s social media — which Lanier, no fan, sees as sterile and Pavlovian — VR would be a place to truly encounter others, stripped of the limitations of the everyday persona ... Lanier, however, is an engaging guide, and readers will find themselves wishing that he is right. A lot of the charm of this highly personal account turns on his description of a childhood that reads like something out of a magical realist novel ... Lanier is at his most impassioned here when reprising his earlier arguments, while also making space to warn about the AI that he sees as a natural product of today’s hubristic Silicon Valley.
Virtual reality, or VR, is the 'stage magic' of technology, observes Jaron Lanier in his new professional memoir, Dawn of the New Everything — the multiplication of technical effects to transport the beholder from the everyday to a simulacrum of another reality ...spirits us back to a time when a plurality of ideas about what the Internet could be were still in play. Thus, it traces the provenance of the organizing principles of the Web we live with today ...an account of the making of a digital humanist ... Baggy, unkempt and idiosyncratic as its author, it pulses with kaleidoscopic insight, recondite science and deeply felt opinions — a rejoinder to singularity-struck 'digital supremacist[s]' ... By limning his own history in virtual reality, Lanier offers a vision for an enhanced reality for everyone.
At first glance, Lanier’s book seems like a sustained effort to secure his place as a founding father... This is more than a mere attempt to reinforce a particular history. Lanier is more self-deprecating and self-reflective than the typical Californian tech maven, and too self-critical and self-aware to play the role of blinkered advocate...a more studied and nuanced interrogation of VR’s potential, as well as a gentle critique of what he sees as a failure of imagination when it comes to the medium’s current proponents ... The memoir complete, in the final sections of the book Lanier enters his wheelhouse: pontificating in tones that lurch between that of the cheerleader, envisioning all that VR tech might be, and that of the end-time prophet, all dread worries and warnings.