tv Jaron Lanier Dawn of the New Everything CSPAN December 24, 2017 7:30pm-9:01pm EST
book row. it was located along fourth avenue. ran from union scare to astor place, from the 1890s to the 1960s. in 90 years, all those are shuddered to my father, fred bass, who worked here for 76 years. he retired recently at age of 89. he is unfortunately very sick. hopefully this is kept in the bass family. thank you all for being good readers and writers and supporting. supporting this store. we're hosting scientists, classical musician and writer jaron lanier. he is the author of two international best-sellers "who
owns the future," "and you are not a gadget." best-sellers also at the strand. he was pioneer of virtual reality, creating some first commercial virtual reality products on the market in 1980. jaron's new book, quote dawn of new everything". the future of virtual reality and untapped potential. joining him to discuss this potential is one of my favorite columnists maureen dowd who has been a "new york times" op-ed contributor since 1995 where she won a pulitzer prize. please join me in welcoming jaron and maureen to the strand. thank you. [applause]
have met quite a few unusual people, including our president, and he, i asked him, i said wouldn't you rather have someone more of a techie, you know, interview you? but what i love about his books, the voice in his books is so alive and vivid and like a child and a savant all at once and it really draws you into that world. so i a feel like you don't haveo be an expert to really enjoy it. and i'm interviewed him at his house a couple times and he is hoarder, as am i. so i felt quite at home there but he hoards much more interesting thing. he hasas every musical instrumet known to man and every square inch and you know, a chinese opium bed filled with, what is it filled with?
>> well, instruments. yeah, mostly sort of the really big floor-standing wind instruments i can put up in there, yeah. >> and a beautiful golden harp and a, and the piano is the oldest? >> no. it is the best. are there piano geeks in the audience? its 1929 mason and hamlin full concert nine-foot. it is best one, it is really amazing so. >> and an instrument called a serpent? >> yeah. the serpent, i actually wrote a piece that used a serpent on a commission, a piece that was premiered at the met earlier this year. it is a big, like a big snake with holes in it. it was only base wind instrument in the middle ages. it is really hard to play but it isis kind of wonderful. >> aaron sorkin once wrote this great line in a play, music is what science does on a saturday
night. and often times jaron starts his talks by playing one of his unusual instruments and as you can see he brought one. let's start that way. >> okay. i don't have a mic stand. sure. hold it here. the instrument. >> do you want the mic on? >> hold it there. [laughter] the human mic stand. it might have to patent you. ♪
♪ [applause] >> what is that? >> you don't know what that is? it's called a kajm. it is from laos in southeast asia and, i love it for many reasons. one is, honestly it is a good crowd pleaser i can take on carry-on. effective as a little thing to take to events it is also arguably theut oldest digital
number.. so this is 16 similar objects either on or off in fixed positions and it goes back at least 10,000, probably more than 13,000 years. so this is 16-by the number. this is where it all started. there is whole lineage leads to the modern computer directly from this. you wantt to hear about this? so these were traded across the silk route and ancient greeks and romans new them. they made a giant version steam powered to accompany the gore in the coliseum. it was so hard to operate they had to develop the planks to control the hulls and that evolved into the keyboard, the organ and piano. the planks were so big that the slave boys who operated them had trouble with them. they had these cross planks to automate cords on it. and, that gradually turned into automation mechanisms and both
organs and early automated harp sy cords. the notion you could have a player piano made up it is own mine inspired a guy to see if he could make a programmable loom, which inspired a guy name to make a calculator and alan turingab to formalize the math r general calculation, which is called a computer. and herene we are with thrown election. so it all started, it all started with this little thing. yeah. bad boy. >> i think it's very, very good that we have the father of virtual reality at a moment when the whole meaning of reality is up for grabs. i wanted to start with some personal questions because jaron
was born in new york city and then his parents fled the big city when he was one, and jaron's life is as colorful as he is as you might imagine and they were running but were not sure from what and you had a tragedy at a young age, and i just wondered if you could tell us a little bit about your youth that you write about in the book. >> sure. so we're jewish and for my parents generation they were european, the story you might imagine applies, does apply. my mother was a concentration camp survivor. she was captured at 13. she was from vienna. my father's family had been mostly wiped out by padrones in ukraine. they made it here and they kind of lived an interesting bohemian
life in the '50s in new york. kind of a cool one. my dad became the science editor for golden age science fiction pulps. he used to write pieces in back of amazing, astounding, fantastic. >> he came up with the rumor of alligators in the sewers? >> i don't really know for sure. this is something he told me when i was a kid. when i now have a child i gauge how often i lie to her on the chance that it is genetic. my doubts about some of these stories increased slightly based on that research. so my dad was a kind of a sidekick on one of the early, maybe the earliest call-in radio shows which was called the long john nebble show. one of the things he liked to do make fun of weird pseudoscience stuff but initially pretend to
be into it and then expose it. he was solved in a lot of early flying saucer stuff and he might have invented the alligators in the new york sewers. there might be actually alligators in the new york sewers. i have never gotten to the bottom of them. with questions involving new york no one ever really does, right? so, but he might v so i was born in 1960. they had feeling based on the experience inei europe they wand to run and get away. they didn't want me to be around. by the way, this is a different topic. i have a 11-year-old child now, a daughter, i'm so haunted by this because my mother's family waited too long in vienna until it was too late until things get bad, i wonder how do you tell, how do you know? i don't have the answer. i really don't know. i don't like that feeling. i don't know what to do with it. but at any rate we went out --
they ran as far as they could seems like most remote place but criteria it still had to have a good university because you don't live far from from a good university. they had ended up the edge where texas, new mexico and country of mexico meet. the el paso university near the whiteo sands technical range. it was solid university so they settled there at that corner. there are many other stories. the book has a lot of stories. i can't possibly tell you the whole tale now but the short version my mother died in a car accident when i was nine and -- >> coming home from getting her driver's license. >> that's right. she had just gotten her driver's license that morning, i think, after that i felt a profound, profund sense of isolation, and
it led me to, to a fascination with, just the potential to connect with people. how do do you it? to me other humans, just looking atth you now i can almost rememr what it feltns like. when you go out at night and look at the stars, they're just right there. you can see them. they're real, but then, when you learn a littlear bit about how e universe is put together, you realize they're inaccessible to us. it could take hundreds of thousands of years just to get to that place. it is right there. we can't know. we can't get there. that is how people felt to me. they were like these orbs and heads or orbs that felt so distant like stars. >> there were bullies in that part of thean world. >> there were serious bullyies. when i was in elementary -- i started out in texas which, i mean in juarez, mexico.
the border used to be open border. it was amazing thing. you take a school bus across the river and be in mexico, go to school there. it wasn't, this whole crazy paranoia about the border just did not exist. it was just a very sweet place. you just went right across and but when at a certain point they transferred me to the texas school system and there, when i was back some of the kids in my school drowned and killed the only chicano kid in class, the term we used to use for people of mexican descent. totally got away with it, though everybody knew. it was terrifying. it was a terrifying environment to live in. so, yeah. >> and after your mother's death, your house burned down. >> yeah, yeah. >> you lived with your father in tents on a little plot of land he purchased in the new mexico desert. then he let you draw up the
design of the house you would build together, a goedoic dome. >> yes. >> your daughter, was same age you were then, would you let her design your house? >> so we came up, we negotiated a compromise on this question. so dido you notice in the new part of the house we're building there is eye-shaped window? that is little belle's eye. i let her make a window the shape of her aye. so she can do part of the house but. it is not like structurally critical. what i should point out my father did let me design a house at 11 and we did build it. then part of it collapsed, with him inside about 30 years later. so my advice not let a 11-year-old design a house even if they seem precocious. you might disagree much we could have a conversation bit but that is my thought. yeah. >> you write about how you vividly remembered discovered
the garden of earthly delights for the first time. >> yeah. >> you were hyper perceptive, hypersensitive, even in your own words, hyper romantic. how did this later develop your becoming the father of virtual reality and do you think you were drawn to vr as form of escapism from many traumas of your childhood. >> well, i don't feel like it was escapeism. i was, really struck me about the garden of earthly delights was that here's somebody from centuries earlier, i mean medieval artist created this thing that didn't represent reality. this active imagination would still come across. to me art if other people's heads were heads were distant
tars you couldn't get to, art was warp drive between the heads. i was just i had this idea somehow if you could see what was inside of other heads or see what was inside of yours, it would be so astonishing. serial art was first thing that did something for me that opened up people's heads and exposed them and i of course surrealism isn't the only genre that does that. i have actually gotten a little bit of flak who think the serial genre is kind of tasteless. it's a funny conversation to have but i think art does that. and when i was a little older i got, i got super excited by early experiments computer
traffics. the guy who invented computer graphics was ivan sutherland more or less. he made the first virtual reality headset in the late '60s there was journal article, i was in college in the 70s and i was 15 or so i think, there was journal article about some of his work. i got so excited that i, i ran out andk just stopped strangern the street and was holding up this like math journal, look at this, look at this, we'll be ablele to share dreams! of course it made no sense to anyone. you have to understand that was before the internet. there was no way to just contact people you didn't know. that wasn't a feasible plan. there wasn't any method for that. would i like run up to strangers and accost them with these journal articles. and, yeah, i was a badly-based boy i guess, yeah. >> speaking of which, in the late 70's you found your way back to manhattan and lived in a purplele penthouse just behind e
dakota. you used to hang out at ear inn, became part of avant-garde music scene and spending time with john gauge, laurie spiegel and laurie anderson. you write att that time new york city amplified you right back at yourself. a giant parabolic mirror. as you walked down the street you made eye contact and exchanged subconscious signals with thousands of people, no longer so today. everyone is looking at their phones. what do you think of new york now? is new york over? when was the last time you went to the ear inn? >> i think the ear inn is still there, is it? yeah, would i think so. i haven't been there in a while. should go there to spring street bit hudson. >> they have great shepherds pie. >>ph they did back then. i believe that. whatat do i think of manhattan? i'm not sure i can say anything brilliant about manhattan than
you wouldn'tt know more about than me because you live here probably if you're here. it strikes me as being less distinct from other places and less flavorrable than it used to be. so many chain stores and that sort of thing and seems to have priced out a lot of its own bohemia, maybe not entirely. but it, one thing i will say though when i was 17 and i lived here for the first time i used to come to the strand and i used to just haunt this place and hang out all over it. employees here used to be really strange people. it used to be an odd scene, like something out of an underground comic wandering around in this place. so i really have fond memories of it. and i believe my father had come here before me too. >> tell about when you guys used to go up to john and yoko's apartment to beg for money. >> yeah, well, no, the ear magazine, the avant-garde music journal was funded by them.
so they we would have run up discretely, periodically, say the printer wants to be paid. yeah, so that was -- that is how things go. i think that sort of thing estimate goes on today. >> there was a patron of the arts, right? a rich woman who kind of -- >> i bet somebody in the audience know who i am talking about. there was a woman who had energy like i have never seen before. she was, i mean, i am not sure what her age was, she was elderly i would say but she would be out all night running around and she was this patron of avant-garde artists and musicians a lot of o people who you heard of depended on. now she claimed to have this amazing made of stainless steel shaped like a spike with her ex-husband's bones hanging in
mobile from the top up state some side. seems like if that was really true, i would have heard of it again. it must be one of those things. we used to run around, people like she and i john gauge, run around in the restaurant. i know restaurant would put out unused cheese right about now. we would run into the alley grab a block of cheese. why are we runningse around and stealing cheese from an alley 3:00 in the morn? ing i don't know. she would wear us out. off on her own to the next adventure. we can't leave her, in those days, new york city was dangerous, it was kind of a scary place. nobody keeps up with her. she takes care of herself. she goes off to whatever the next thing was. yeah. >> i love the way jaron writes about women in this book. he goes off on a discourse about
the difference between lust and limericks and a lot of insights into men and women. and i love this story of your first marriage. you ended up in a house with tarantula venom in the fridge? >> yeah. [laughter] well, we, there was this house in berkeley, california, was kind of an amazing mansion built up a spring that burst forth out of hill. in it was a group of people started publishing this new kind of zine, it turned into a psycho dell lick magazine, most famous version was mondo 2000, it became the scene reflected in "wired" magazine.
the group of these roommates made the magazine. she was editor, queen moo, collected weird substances. she, we did have the problem the refrigerator was almost completely filled with her election of at at that rant la venom. it did become a problem. can we move another fridge. can we move the tarantula venom. >> when you got a divorce, some incident with marvin mitchell son? >> does minute remember him. >> he was a famous divorce lawyer. wasn't lee marvin's gasser lawyer or something? >> yes. >> was there a fight about virtual sperm? >> he was trying, he was going to try a new legal theory that, if you failed to i am -- impreg
nate somebody who felt it was their last chance, she was certainly young enough, did have another child, that you could be sued for failure to impregnate. you could be sort of sued for virtual child, or something, really -- hard to even reconstruct but, interesting thing about it was that i, in a way, in retrospect i almost feel -- he was thrown in jail and disbarred during the course but for other things, but not for a case related to me but for something else but i almost wish it had gone through because the interesting thing was in order to do it, we'll need your sperm samples. we'll need to prove that you could father a child in order to proceed with this lawsuit. and it was like, you're going to force me to give you a sperm sample? i realized feeling of like the state telling me what to do with my body, i suddenly thought,
right. men don't ever experience what that feels like. i'm one of the few men got to experience what that feels like, the legal system tell you about your own reproduction and your own body. i thought, all right, i mean it kind of, i wish more men could actually experience that directly. that is the thing came out of it for me because i do think sometimes we've been a little too cool in abstract talking about abortion rights. fundamentally, it is about whether the state can control somebody's body. i felt that really keenly. i put the story in there just because it might help somebody else see what a bad idea that is. >> you've talked about social media as one giant behavior modification empire. >> yes, i have. >> you said when everyone getting personalized feeds empathy becomes impossible. others have said one day twitter, facebook and the like will be seen as a often
destructive fad, or maybe, we'll have president zuckerberg, who knows. so, i guess the question is what, what did it become as opposed what you hope it would become? >> on the off chance we get a president zuckerberg i hope you're saving up the worst venom for columns of that era. >> tarantula. >> tarantula venom, you need to bring out the at that lant -- tarantula venom this, oh, my god. i'm actually writing another book about this but, the really short version is that, the computer world, the techie community wanted everything to be free but we also wanted everybody, we love steve jobs and bill gates, we love
entrepreneurs. we didn't want the government involved. if you want everything to be free but want everything to be business the only answer is advertising and so google for instance was born as an advising-driven thing but problem computer algorithms get better and better, computers get batter andter and and devices are more cheaper and plentiful. advertising turns into modification behavior feedback loops and it is easy to design those to be addictive and, if, and it is easy to, it is easy to hire them out to manipulate people and -- >> well sean parker admitted this the other day. >> he did it the day after your piece was published i should note. >> right. he said the whole, that they knew they were designing nimething addictive just to soak out, you know, get out your precious -- >> i mean, you know, the most
tragic think about it, since these schemes require input from people they only work with a field that comes from people using them and adding own posts and videos. when people add really positive-minded, constructive material to social media, it gradually gets routed to terrible purposes for the simple reason that social media has to drive engagement above all. negative emotions drive engagement than positive ones. so a year after some positive social change, you have some backlash that interrupts the arc of history and sets it back because the backlash is more powerful because social media makes it so. so the arab spring turned into into the reign of terror. women trying to improve status in the gaming world, turned into
gamer-gate. black lives matter turned into sort of bizarre normalizing of neofascism. there is no reason for it to stop. what i'm worried about is the me-too movement in a year will turn some horrible thing we won't know the details of all we can say it will be worse than we expect because structurally that's what happens. >> on a happier note -- >> yes. >> you mentioned your next book so can we tell them the cats and dogs theory? >> yee -- yeah. >> area i don't know has four cats that he really, really loves. >> it's true. we are a cat household by which . mean the cats outvote news he is worried that one is a trump voter. >> she is becoming -- she is anti-immigrant a voter. she had been there forever. then these kittens showed up. why are there immigrants? everything was fine. they'rep ruining everything. eating all thes cat food.
she was really upset about it. maureen kind of scooped me this was intro to the next book. i have to come up with a clever thing because it is out of the bag. >> the cat's out of the bag. >> the cat's out of the bag. the theory, you know cats are especially popular online, cat videos. so why is that? my theory bit is very simple, we're watching our own independence go away and cats remind us of what it is like, what the thing we're losing is like. cats are, you know, cats, cats weren't domesticated. they domesticated themselves. they are still partially wild. they can live in the wild. they are partially independent. they have aloofness. that is what we're losing in ourselves, losing these tools. we're watching ourselves go away. that is the theory. >> i love that theory. >> i hope it is wrong. i don't know. by the way one of our cats is named loof because she is not aloof. >> they're hanging from the
ceiling above the antique musical instruments. >> that's true. >> you were friends with timothy leery and helped to break him out of the esolin institute. i noticed in "the financial times" the other day there is whole big piece how a new generation of san francisco's, san franciscans working in silicon valley believe that lsd makes them more creative but taking it in micro doses i guess. >> right. >> what is just a funny thing coming to your full circle about breaking him out. >> yeah. i -- i have no problem if people want to experiment with lsd microdoses or something but there might be odd definition of creativity at work in silicon valley sometimes. >> they said they took their cue from steep steve jobs, that lsd
was one of the most important things he did in his life. >> i am sure he felt that deeply because it was really important to him. shall i tell the tim leary story. >> sure. >> there was waive of virtual reality in the '80s, in the news andd what not. tim was saying this is the new lsd, electronic lsd. this is the nextwave. he never seen it or met anybody in it. so i started kind of taking him with some places. we didn't back then have the internet or but we have had zines,o little magazines published. i wrote some pieces, it doesn't do anybody any good it try to treat technology as like some outlaw thing. i mean like what, i don't know if it is done any good to treat drugs the way you do.
let's, is there some other way to do this? so he said okay, we should meet. i said great. i got contacted by him. we'll meet. he told me, i can't do his voice, i wish i could. he had gentle american irish voice. jaron, i'm i'm getting paid to do this workshop up at esolin, and i, i like the money but i really don't want to do it. so, i'm hiring this guy who is a professional timothy leary impersonator. i give him some. money. i don't with to do it. the thing i have to show up at the start. they know me there, you know what i mean. here is what i want you to do. bring your car, i want you to smuggle y the, this other, the y who is going to impersonate me in your trunk. you will smuggle me out. but they have a guard gate.
you have to keep a really straight face. can you handle it? this is esolin this is not east berlin. this is the stasi. guysys in thai died t-shirts. we got him out, that is how i met him, yeah. >> there is something weird, recently a story in the "times" about the esolin institute which is having this huge comeback by these, you know, millionaires and billionaires who have decided that they want to try to find their soul. so they're drinking kombucha and finding their souls and, yeah. >> you know i still, i still know michael and bill murphy who run esolin there is whole new generation of silicon valley people. it is going to change hands. looks like moving from the
original sort of transpersonal psychology people who started it and in eastern mysticism to the new generation of silicon valley people. >> originally it was more about sex, right? the economist called it, i don't even know what this means exactly, new agey bordello where people got high and had sex throughout the '60s and '70s, before coming home talking about psychobabble and dangling crystals. [laughter] >> i mean i understand people sometimes feel the call of flattery and to a little overboard there but i don't know. i feel like that is a little unfair. i, i have been there a fair amount and i never, i have never seen it be that way but i don't know.ev thee world is -- what? >> berkeley? >> esolin is between halfway
san francisco and l.a. very hard to access cliffs above the pacific ocean with hot springs and as astonishing place as a natural spot. a lot of early psycho an lick call mom started in the u.s. and breaking away from the fruitian orthodoxy started in esolin. i feel like i descended from the characterization, yeah. >> one really interesting thing you told me about the personality emerging from the digital age. if you're a mark of social media if you're being manipulated by it, one of the ways to tell, if there is a certain kind of personality quality that overtakes you.
it has been called the snowflake quality. people criticize liberal college kids who have it but exactly the same thing you see in trump. it is this kind of highly-reactive, thin-skinned outraged single-mindedness. one way to think of trump even though he is a con man and an actor and a master manipulator, all that in a sense he is also a victim. i met him a few times over 30 years. what i see someone moved from kind of a new york character who was in g on his own joke to somebody who is completely freaked out and outraged and feeling like he is on the vern of a catastrophe every second. so my theory about that he was ruined by social media. >> yeah. i mean, i do think that is exactly right.. the addiction algorithms in social media, it does create this personality effect.
people look like zombies using it. when they get off it they have this nervous affronted, small-minded quality. you see it all over the spectrum. it is true for those liberal college kids who criticize. it is true for trump and true for all kinds of other people too. it is -- >> did you ever think you would see a president who is basically running everything on social media? such a strange -- >> god, i'll tell you a story. you know who the composer terry riley is? he was founder of minimalist school of music. for a longg time we were writing an opera together, it was called, bastard the first. a science fiction opera about a president who run through things through manipulative computer systems. we didn't get it exactly right but it is right, it was right enough that it is too depressing to complete the opera. [laughter]. so -- [laughter].
start the out as something like that. i mean, silicon valley designers tend to never foresee the possibility of bad actors and are surprised over and over and over again. so. >> jaron, another delight of jaron's book is his footnotes which can be really hilarious. in one thing you had a friend who dated donald trump. >> oh, yes. is that in there? i'm really indiscrete. where is myha editor? [laughter] why did you let me leave that in. i did know somebody, i did know somebody who was dating him for a while, yeah. >> she said it was a bad experience. >> i don't, i don't think show show -- she came out feeling like it was a dignity-enhancing
experience, yeah. >> yeah. because we're inundated with this, in my world, i wanted to just ask you about, you know gender inequity and sexual harrassment in silicon valley. i interviewed, did the first interview with susan fowler, number two on recode list today above elon musk, mark zuckerberg in terms of power, brought uber to its knees over this stuff and you said something really great where you said, that it was, you said there is kind of a emerging new male jerk persona of the digital age which would be some kind of cross between the uber guy and the bro and maybe milo and palmer lucky and maybe steve bannon, sort of smug, superior, i have the levers of power i
know better than you, like insecurity and a lot of power at the same time. >> uh-huh. yeah. i mean it's become a recognizable type and, if, if a snowflake persona is what comes from being manipulated by these behavior modification loop empires this other -- i think, did i come up with a name for what that is? this, i guess i can't use curse words on c-span. this kind of a ass-god or something like that. >> christmas for asses. >>t christmas for asses is whati said, yeah. there is this, there is this kind of other persona of people run the schemes, which also does them no favors and is also horrible. and so, that is this kind of, yeah, this kind of weird smug insecurity. it is a sort of a strange twisted persona, we see it again and again in new kind of male
power comes out of these networks. >> one thing you seem kind of worried about, when i talk to you is, these guys who got rich writing code to solve banal problems, how to pay a stranger for stuff online, now contemplate this world where they're the creators of a new reality and perhaps a new species. you have talked about them getting high on their own supply? >> yeah. [laughter]. well, back in the '90s when i used to talk about the stuff i used as bootlegger vocabulary which is, don't drink your own whiskey which is to say if you have some hype story to help sell your stuff you shouldn't believe it yourself because you confound yourself. and then there was the 10 crack commandments was the rap was called. don't get high on your own supply. that is better, same thing, but updated, so i started using that.
i forget when that was, sometime late '90s when that came out. yeah, i think that is a problem. i think when you're, silicon valley have this way of hyping itself that it then believes. we're not to our ownselves true as much as we need to be but i'll tell you there is a good side to that though. i feel, i'm one of the rare people who is still inside it and has been inside it and just try to call it as i see it. i try to speak truthfully. people still talk to me and i feel like more and more just recently when sean came out, oh, yeah, we made it deliberately addictive, used the techniques. the techniques were proven initially in behavior studies and gambling industry. we imported it from the gambling world. it is okay to be more honest. we've gotten into trouble and we have to be.
i feel there will be more of that i feel i detect a bit of a shift in silicon valley, i feel i see more honest clarity. >> you don't think we'll need, you mentioned sometimes we might need to shuthi down the interne? [laughter] >> a lot of people, that is a question iu keep on getting. do we need to shut it down and start over? i, you know what? i think what vick said, i don't have a lot of people agreeing with me on this but i think i'm right. i really think if we just change the business model of some of the big companies so they weren't incentivized to bring out the worst emotions and most addictive designs, it would self-correct. basically the problem is the advertising what is called the advertising business model that morphed into this behavior modification seem. so instead of that, we had people, oh, able to earn money being really popular facebook
posters. if people paid a small fee to use facebook. if it was monetized, it would be alternative to attention-seeking. it wouldn't get perfect but it would get a lot better and i think facebook would still be in business. they would be fine.io their shareholders would do fine. i think that is theet best, i don't know if that is the to, but thatl come is the smoothest around best solution that i know about. i mean this idea of having regulators just pound on them i think is tough because hackers canat outrun regulators. >> jaron gets upset with me when i dwell on this but i am obsessed with this fight between elon musk and mark zuckerberg on twittersk and trashing each oth, i will ask quickly where elon musk killer robots, killer ai is coming to get us. that is why he wants to have interplanetary colonization and rockets to mars and mark
zuckerberg keeps saying that elon musk is hysterical and, then elon musk implies mark zuckerberg is wanting to soak up more information and isn't worried about getting the kill switch to the killer robots. so quickly. >> well, in general, if you have a company that makes its money by selling goods or services it is more likely to be a decent company than if it only makes itsmp money through behavior modification for pay. intrinsically what elon musk does will bring out better people in him and other people than what zuckerberg does. zuckerberg fundamental business is to screw up the world and musk's isn't. my first round of sympathy has to be with musk.
what musk is saying about ai in my view is incorrect and the reason why i say that, ai doesn't exist. here is the way i see it. oh god, this is long story, it is in the book, in all my books some form or another, we make up the story that the machines are intelligences it suggests we're god-like we're creating creatinw and it's, i was just thinking actually could also spin some kind of gloom envy theme around it. likeau these men wish they could create life. there is whole fancy about it. the problem with it, it makes you into a terrible scientist and engineer. if you say here is this machine i'm p making, this is what it is supposed toou accomplish and i n measure how well it accomplished itse and i accept the reality of thatan measurement i can make it better and that's engineering. but if you say, i believe this thing is alive, it is alive it
is intelligence. that is not well-defined. alan turing told us with the turingho test. that is subjective based on our judgment. you can no longer be a engineer. at this point you're a religious ritual practitioner. you have no basis why is it alive? i don't know becausese i feel it is alive. now everything becomes absurd. user interfaces become worse. people take less responsibility. so, now all of a sudden it is sort of okay for some giant corporation, one of the biggest in the world to be promoting jihadist videos or horrible things or personal destruction for peopleri because, well, it s all a big ai, not us, its electronic brain. it is its decision. we'll talk to it to see if it can do better. it is ridiculous. another thing about it, behind every claim of ai is a theft, to paraphrase ballbeck i guess.
order to run ai you need a bunch of data, corpus of data that is the example set that is used to drive the machine learning algorithm and those things come from people. the example i like to use is language translators. language translators have seen their fortunes plummet just like investigative journalists or recording musicians. they no longer make money from what used to be their daily bread, translating memos. now you can get free translations from online services but for those services to work we have to go and steal example translations from tens of millions of people every single day because the language changes that fast. on one hand we're saying, oh, you're no longer needed because our giant electronic brain will replace you. you're not long be paid, and go on public dole and basic income. you're no longer earning your own dignity but on the other hand we actually need them. there is no electronic brain.
just a new channel for their value to be brought to people. so it's a lie, it's theft. so therere is no ai. every time you say, oh, we should be afraid of killer ai you're promoting the very myth itself is the danger. it is not tech, it is the myth. when elon does that he is making it worse. >> i love elon. okay, so this is from the point of view of a woman. i just saw "blade runner" and i've been watching "westworld." i wonder if woman are really screwed in the future because, youu know, ryan gosling has an alexa that can come alive and looks like latino bridge bardot, harrison ford is still in love with his gorgeous reply can't?
should woman be worried about sex robots and former editor of cosmo says virtual reality be the greatest thing ever for women porn. we're allowed to talk about porn on c-span. >> this is topic with a lost angles to it, isn't it? officers thing i want to say is that, before we dig too much into this sort of porn-like approach it is worth saying there are other ways that virtual reality advanced media in general could contribute to sex, romans, sense more creative than this model. in my opinion, if you remember, if you look at the history of
sexuality and art it, was more diverse and peculiar before cinema came along before we capture things with a camera. i think whatan happened, the cinematic, this way of capturing sex created this new kind of, it is cemented in player rottic visions that had been more visions. if you look at art before, interesting and kind of diverse and kind of more eroticism was more perfect. i don't think role of women was better before cinema. it was worse and worse in general the further back you go with some exceptions but, i think cinema kind of made us into, sort of literalizers of sexuality in a way we hadn't been before and it is possible we'll remember the cinematic
era, unfortunate, sad, perverse era of sex sex sex and eroticism. virtual reality is things are powerful, share a body, become unified creature in a virtual coordinate your motor loops in strange ways. that sounds terribly abstract it seems but you will see. it is really school. we shouldn't think of porn way of thinking how media intersections with sexuality only way it can. i think there is a lot more interest stuff in thehe future. and then,re i will say that tech culture is male-dominated. this idea we won't need women anymore has been one of the fantasies in tech culture for a really long time. every tech utopia, not everyone,
nerdy ones out of silicon valley often include a paradise for prostitution. peter thiel was talking about that. or sex robots or something like that. so we'll need to deal with these people that -- >> sounds like seed studying where you have islands with libertarians or lib per. >> libber teen worlds out in space or whatever. i think it's a bid of a fake. i think in their a lot of imagine that imagine -- men that imagine this would like something more tender than that and they're not just purely consumers of whatever they think fulfillment is can be packaged. i think they're underestimating themselves. that's one thing i'll say. >> okay. i'm just going to ask one more question. then we'll open it up for questions. so ar feature in "politico" this
summer explored the idea of a robot president. >> it is sounding better and better, isn't it? >> yeah. who can't be bought off by lobbyists? >> [inaudible] >> won't bring clueless son-in-law along for the ride. in india the prime minister was campaigning as a hologram. that.are we headed of >> erdogan has projected himself as a big hologram in turkey. the saudis gave citizenship to some ai. >> to a female robot. >> right. >> they don't do it to their own woman. >> probably allowed to drive, right. >> they're allowed to drive now just barely. >> no i mean the female robot is allowed to drive where the human female probably wouldn't be. >> yeah. this hope we have a problem that
will solve our problems is false hope. because the programs don't do anything. they're just channels between us. that is like the illusion i was talking about where we want to pretend we don't need all the translators supplying the raw material repurposed to provide so-called automated translations. we want to pretend there is electronic brain where there isn't. just us talking to ourselves. so you need channels. there can be no such thing as electronic president. that president would be channeling of some number of people's data. i mean democracy in a sense it is algorithmic leadership scheme. that is what the ideal of democracy is. if you want to think of it that way. and i hope democracy is still possible. >> well on cheery note, do you have any questions? >> i have a question about using virtual reality for health. i know that there have been some
studies in veterans hospitals using virtual reality to manage pain. i wonder if you talk a little bit how it could sort of be assisting people rather than demolishing them. >> yeah. no, virtual reality in medicine has been very well-established for decades. in factal my proudest time in te early first phaseec of virtual reality cocreating first stimulator in stanford with dr. derosen. probably the most pleasant outcome of that personally in the last couple years my wife has been battling cancer and successfully but one of her most difficult procedures is performed with somebody who trained with somebody, joe, my old partner building a simulator. the procedure she underwent was designed in a virtual reality simulator and he trained for it in virtual reality and it was
successful so it came around to us that sort of thing is commonplace and has been. every vehicle you used was prototyped in vr at this point. i mean there is a whole industrial life of this, which it has done very good things. there are a large variety of medical applications that have been tested including a lot of psychiatric ones, ptsd. phobia. i was initially sent call because they -- skeptical because they started trendy. >> [inaudible] >> the question is, could you use virtual reality for behavior modification in prison systems? possibly. a friend of mine walter greenleaf who study this is tried to use virtual reality simulators to help gang members learn skills to avoid conflict and he has had pretty good results in some replication. i don't think there is such a
thing as a panacea in this area but i think these can be helpful tools. >> hey, jaron. it is neland. >> hey. >> i wonder if you could talk a little bit about, what are some possibilities for cultivating spaces that are not susceptible to this sort of digital pay thing? how do we go back to the kinds of places of sort of serendipity and mild danger and excursion that are outside of these kind ofre behavior loops? >> well, i think there is an easy answer to that, which is, just provide people with some alternative motivation other than the pureid seeking of attention. so if the only thing you can get out of a system is seeking attention, then you will turn into a kid who is acting out again. then everything turns y bad. some examples of systems that offer alternatives, if you look
at very social networks, you say which are ones that don't have a bunch of malicious fake information. don't have mob-like ganging up on a people. don't havee pull -- bullies thee is something else to do other than seek attention. linkedin people are worried about their careers so they have something to think about. we did virtual world with second life, there was economy in it. it had bullies, called griefers back m then but not many. give somebody alternative, create broadening, diversity incentives available. i think people rise to the occasion. >> thank you. could you talk a little bit what you think happened to your telepresence as technology? i believe you did work on that in the past. it never really seemed to emerge as some other things you worked on? >> in the new book, dawn of the
new everything it alternates between story chapters and technical chapters. one of the technical chapters includes a section on this the problem we never solve the duplex s problem which is in orr to see someone else three dimensionally and telepresence, you need some kind of a display that can do that. typically those might be in the form of a headset. they see you with a headset. if you try to make software erase the headset or something, it never quite works why because of uncanny valium. the eyes look wrong. we have never figured out a two-way scheme that completely solves the problem. there are lots of almost ways but that is where it is hung up right now. >> hi, jaron. is there anything in the music you're working on now or any music that can help our tattered social fabric or our personal conditions especially what you're working on in music?
>>rk well, music helps my tatted condition anyway. i like it. i'm not willing to give up my starry eyed idealism about the power of art. i do think that in the present environment since even the best things online are channeled in ways to create negativity because that's the maximum engagement factor, it's very, and, this, sort of social limericks have taken over music distribution. very hard to do it in a positive way so i stopped distributing my music a while ago. i think there is no way available that feels positive to me to do it. so i just don't do it anymore. >> hi. jaron, thank you very much for your talk. i was wondering where, or where does or where could religion fit into the conception you created? so for example, as a child of holocaust survivors, i was
wondering if you ever read the mouse comic series or something else related to that, to what happened and what's your response was as a technologist. have you had any connection to israel and the technology stuff that goes on there? you just mentioned music. so was wondering if you had any connection or checked out klesmer, often been called jewish jazz. >> i few those four questions almost totally unrelated, although they have some jewish connection. so,co let's me, i will try to rn through reverse order. klesmer,er sure, hell yes, hande a clarinet i will show you something. absolutely, love klesmer. i mean klesmer is whole universe in itself with a whole bunch of different things you can call kl
e sipc. israel, i have never been to israel. we have a zillion israelis in the tech companies circle. so i see israelis all the time. and i should say that the techie part of israel tends to be more aligned with the part of israel that hasn't been in power in israel a long time. there are sort of two israels same way twoke americas so far s i can tell not having been there. and then, let's see then you asked about holocaust literature and you asked about mouse in particular. i have readed mouse. i read a lot of other things of course. lately i think everybody is reading hanna arnt for obvious reasons. and, but yes, about religion, here, depends what you think religionel is. i mean i, i would say that the first hyper text was the talmud for instance.
that is very interesting thing. the goyan, you won't know what i'm talking about. that'sou okay. the thing about virtual reality does interest me there is this way in which you can i sometimes call it a soul noticing device. with other forms, other designs for digital technology, you're sort of interacting with a device and designers typically tell to you talk to it as if it's a person. so you talk to your phone or talk to the speaker thing on the counter or your car or something. it is kind of a like a person and you're kind of like a machine. this kind of equivalence comes b people demote themselves. okay, i'm a part of the big machine of facebook. i guess it all makes sense. but withoo virtual reality it'sa different story. you can keep somebody's facebook page going after they're dead, but a virtual reality experience
doesn't make sense once the person is dead. it is live interactive moment to moment. when you're in virtual reality, you change bottomeddy, change the world, change everything, but there is still something floating there. that no matter what changes that is your experience and consciousness. y it is very easy to go through the day that experiences are a real thing. our tech culture asks us to forget it is real. if we think experiences are real thing, it cut as ching. if experience is there, there is a, it totally upsets everything because it's a whole other dimension of reality and it is there. i think you do experience. some of you is floating there. you could call it experience. you can call it a soul. when you experience virtual reality you experience a thing floating separating for once so you notice it. >> time for two more questions.
>> maureen, did you want to say something? >> is there some silicon valley guy doing, looking for the ai god head now? >> oh, yeah, god, there is always stuff like that. [laughter] >> jaron, is love your mind, "a beautiful mind." is there at least four big elephants in the room, in the read the article in harper's, fire next time, we're any week on virtue of losing democracy all together. we know unless we keep fossil fuels in the ground, next two or three years the planet, we'll go over the cliff. wealth inhe quality, grotesque wealth inequality, all hastening us toward oblivion. >> you're a bundle of cheer. >>en here is the good news. i'm a tech activist. i'm developing an app. it is really, it is really what curt von that gut once said, the battle between forces of good and evil, greed and compassion, one thing made the difference is
organizing. we're trying to play with a new concept, talk about crowd acting as opposed to crowd funding. if you're familiar with the concept. if you're not i can explain one or two sentence. >> i have to ask you not to make a pitch question time. >> not a pitch, what you think of the concept how to get millions of people to be willing to get arrested or willing to do massively resistance by using crowd act? >> so far every time people have used online platforms to organize for positive social change it has been channeled into negative social change of vastly greater magnitude than the initial attempt so in principle can work but it has to be done completely outside of any existing channels. you can't, if you use social media at all you're doomed. sorry to be so blunt. just over and over again it happens. >> last question. >> i was wondering if there is any eye merging or philosophical
cultures with technologists making you more optimistic for the future? if a lot is based around myths are you seeing new myth making a bit more happy? >> that is an interesting question. in a lot of ways history of computer science a battle mythologies because computers are such an abstract thing. you have to some way to think about what the bits are. this is something might not obvious to see. if you tookng a computer, took a mac to be or something, and you stick knit alien world it would be would be like a lava lamp and patterns changing because the meaning isny loss. so the bits only mean anything only mean anything with our interpretation we have toin remember the interpretation to what we started process to when we look at the bits again,
right? that makes sense, right? therefore computer science only has any action to it if it is tied to some cultural framework. therefore myth making it is very strange. it can only exist in concord dance with a myth-making process. and soce there have been these battle royales what myths should bero in place since the very beginning. alan turing invented artificial intelligence that we're making newal people, he did the weeks before hehe was committed suicie going horrific torture over his sexual identity. it is away about escaping, creating a pristine human condition that escapes the messiness of sexuality and ambiguities of being a person.
it is other things too. i think, i don't want to, i don't want to cheapen or simplify what turing was thinking because we can't really know what he was was thinking wt he was telling us but we know a little b b bit. and a shortly after that nor bih weiner i talk about in the book came up completely, wanted to come up with alternative idea. aiai seemed kind of hopeless or creepy to him. came up with cyber net tick. it comes from greek for navigation. computers are connected to world like thermostats being adjusted to algorithms it was tied to people could become a evil manipulation empire. he wrote a book in 1950 called the human use of human beings, he warned hypothetically some day somebody could make a global computing facility to wireless connections on every person constantly and maybe society absurd but of course that is not feasible. that was his bold thought
experiment. and so, in a sense the whole idea of virtual reality is another one of these myths if you likee i made up another myt. in the book i proposed ai and virtual reality are kind of opposites. and they're opposites in the following way. in virtual reality it is always people behind the bits. there is no angels or aliens making anything happen. all actions through people through bytes. in virtual reality change aspect of a person. you might turn into an octopus. you might be in a mars. a spatial transfer nai, translate from real transregulators send them back to you if t it was electronic brain sot the transfer is in tie instead of space. think of ai and vr okay. rthognal illusions. can you see that? what is the difference between
charlatan and magician? magician announces the trick. in reality you announce the trick and ai you don't. >> thank you, maureen. >> thank you. >> thank you. [applause] >> so you're going, we have copies of maureen's book too in the back. stick around and sign copies for us. >> i am i guess. maureen, thank you so much. thanks for coming out. >> thank you. look forward to the future. [applause] >> here's look at some of the best books of the year according to library journal. national book award winning author, sherm nan alexi describes his relationship with his mother, in, you don't have to say you love me. journalist jessica brodeur,
looks at lives of migrant workers in the united states, in nomad land. in ghost of the innocent man, benjamin rockland reports on a north carolina man falsely convicted of rape in 198and his path to exoneration over two decades later. new yorker staff writer, david grand recalls the murders of members of the osage indian nation, in the 1920s, in, killers of the flower moon. and wrapping up our look at library journal's best books of 2017, is hunger. wrongs san gay's thoughts on -- roxanne gay's thoughts about body image. >> what was hard about writing this for you? >> everything. >> oh, you want me to elaborate? >> sure. >> it was a difficult book to write. i sold this book just before "bad feminist came out actually. i wanted to think what i wanted my next nonfiction project.
and book i wanted to write about the least is about fatness. probably the book i should write about the most. my dad told me write about what nobody is doing if you want to achieve success. people were writing from fatness, figuring out their body, lost a lot of weight. you see a cover on the cover of the book standing in formerly fat pants, i did it. i thought, i can't write that book yet. i want to write that book. why don't i tell the story of my body today without apology? just explanation of this, this is my fat body and this is what it is like to be in this world in this body. >> some these authors have appeared on booktv you can watch them on our website, booktv.org. >> we assume that the deep social inequities can be overcome by individual effort and that everyone has an equal
chance of success, and if we just work harder we will be fine. we assume this because there are so many wonderful stories of young people who make it and i do in the book tell those wonderful stories too. many may have heard of diane guerrero, in the country we love. she plays the little latina in "orange is the new black." she is one of mine. she is amazing, and she was part of being interviewed for this book. but we make the assumption that those who just lack determination or not sufficiently gritty are the reasons folks won't get ahead. this grit, peddie gougegy, if you well something popularized in our schools of education. i hope not here, this just work harder kind of ethos.
so i really want to you critically examine that. so i will read a little excerpt from the book where i describe what classrooms. one where the teacher is all about grits and the other where the behavioral expectations are a little more lax. i'm reading this in the hopes you will all run out of here, buy the book, and say, grit isn't what we need to be talking about right now. so, here we go. this is on page 84 in case any want to follow. i will read it from my big print text. 25 third-graders sat cross-legged on the rug facing their teicher and big video screen of the as you know we're about to begin our snake unit. this is the video i promised yesterday we would watch. a hand shot up. a little girl with many braids and ribbons in her hair asked in awed whisper, is this one where we get to see the snake walk out of its skin? yes. we will see that and we will take notes like scientists as we
watch and make some sketches. everyone nodded eagerly. the teacher distributed clipboards and papers and pencils. a nervous commitment rippled through the class. clearly a lesson they had been eagerly anticipating. when we are already sitting like amanda and juan, sitting up and tracking me i will start the video. the students repositioned themselves and held their clipboards at the ready in their laps. however, two students in the back row of the rug were overtaken with giggles and seemed to have a hard time either putting in the paper or paying attention. the teacher redirected them a couple of times but they were clearly in a world of their own. all others had their eyes facing forward and weren't paying much attention to gigglers, and suddy the teacher said, it is clear to me the class is not ready to
engage in learning. let's go back to our desks until we have 100% engagement. you are not respecting the learning process. you have completely forgotten about slanting. did you lose your back muscles over the weekend? too many of you are slouching. i'm going to begin to hand out demerits. i will stop from the text for a minute to make sure we know what slanting is. raise your hands if you heard that acronym. sit up, look, ask questions, nod, track the speaker. part of the grit eat those that all kids know how to do that on demand. the little girl, returning to text, with the braids, whispered to her friend we are not showing respect. the friend nodded gravely. the students got to the feet, with air of derespond dense trooped back to their desks. now we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see the video, the
little girl sad saidly. i really don't want demerit. when the class was dismissed for lunch, the teach demanded everyone line up silently. as they went to the carve fear yaw, a second grade class, hugs and bubble formation. so you know what that is. very common in lots of schools these days. these 8-year-olds held the arms crisscrossed across their chest, almost like in a straitjacket. their cheeks were puffed out if they caught a bubble inside. they too proceeded silently to the cafeteria where they dropped their arms and relaxed their expression. there were five different classrooms in the, classes in the cafeteria and all of them, eight in complete silence while teachers monitored the room. i'm just going to stop from the text because i think in the book i don't tell you what schools these are from but this is not an exceptional school. i don't want you to think it is. i visited many, many schools like this.
i inquired if this silent lunch was punishment for bad behavior? i was informed silent lunch was reeling lar occurrence. we want students to be able to have time in the day where they're quiet and peaceful but it felt anything but peaceful to me. seemed more like a prison with the teachers as guard. i was stunned that this had become a regular practice. gone is the joy of meeting friends at lunch, chattering about anything or nothing. gone is being a care-free kid. none of the students in this school are white. as in many schools all of the teachers are young and white and female. what message does this send to kids who are not of the dominant culture? the school to me felt oppressive. while making eye contact and nodding at speakers is not wrong, this slant system is not
contextualized to a variety of learning environments. its use in this school resulted in emphasis on behavior overactive learning. in other words you are considered a good learner if you can demonstrate slant. but this is a minimal condition for learning in most situations. for many students, this behavior has nothing to do with learning. of course it is hard to teach if two students are cutting up in class but the third grade science teacher described had clearly been trained to stop the lessons in the absence of 100% compliance. in our conversation later the teacher admitted to me that she felt badly about her decision to abort the lesson in favor of behavior. in this school we believe that if students are not practicing slant then learning will be compromised. it is like the broken window theory. you have to take care of the small things before you can take care of the big things or
nothing will get fixed. this slavish adherence to slants i witnessed in so many no excuses schools makes me wonder about the message we send to our young people. the word oppressive kept coming to mind. little room existed for divergent thinking. >> watch this and other programs online at booktv. org. >> now joining us on booktv, is author, professor, long-time journalist marvin kalb. talk about his most recent book. what were you doing in 1956? >> in 1956 i was with the u.s. embassy in moscow. i was a very young diplomat. i spoke russian. i learned that up at harvard. and ambassador bowlen sent me all over russia. i was sort of his advance man.
russia at at that time was an interesting point in it is history. the leader, knit key at that khrushchev just attacked the legend of joesph stalin and that shocked the entire system and that shock went through from the very top of the government down to students. because i was very young, unattached, and the ambassador sent me off to talk to the russians. i found out what it was that was in their hearts, what drove them, what excited them, and this little bit of freedom that they had was intoxicating. they really felt for the first time in their lives that they would not be awakened at 3:00 in the morning and be hauled off to siberia. they really felt that the country was changing but at the end of the year unfortunately the hungarian people believed
khrushchev. they took him at his word, and the up shot was that they wanted their freedom totally. they wanted all of their freedom and they wanted to be independent of russia. and crew chef then had a -- khrushchev had a choice, let them do it, all of eastern europe would fall apart, or crush them. he decided to crush them. that was a terrible moment for the russians. but, you know, the idea of russia and freedom is still a possibility. i think the fact that russia lived with a dictatorship or autocracy for most of its life doesn't mean it always has to live with an autocracy. it is possible that people can learn about freedom and appreciate it. >> could you see the fear in their eyes literally?
>> oh, absolutely, absolutely. as a matter of fact when khrushchev delivered that speech at the 20th party congress, what we learned later, there were no foreigners allowed at the time. but what we learned later was that many russians were popping night glycerin tablets. some of them had heart attacks on the spot. several of them committed suicide on the spot because they were all stall stalin's people. if stalin was suddenly being attacked as murderer, they felt they would be attacked also. they were terribly frightened. you could see it literally in their eyes, but could also see in the eyes of young people, that i talked to hope and excitement and. i think that we in the u.s. tend to quite often forget the magic
so that happened very quickly. when that interview was over, one of the things he said was i feel great. he put his arm around me and he said, you're now one of us. and i have never forgotten. >> marvin kalb, thank you for your time. >> thank you. >> c-span where history unfolds daily. in 1979 it was introduced and brought to you by satellite provider. next astronaut scott kelly a year aboard air station and interviewed by former nasa administrator charles