Named a Best Book of the Year by the Economist, Wall Street Journal & Vox
‘The father of virtual reality’ (Sunday Times) explains why virtual reality presents the ultimate test for humanity.
‘Essential reading, not just for VR-watchers but for anyone interested in how society came to be how it is, and what it might yet become’ Economist
Welcome to a mind-expanding, life-enhancing, world-changing adventure.
Virtual reality has long been one of the dominant clichés of science fiction. Now virtual reality is a reality: from the startling beauty of lifelike video games to the place where war veterans overcome PTSD, surgeries are trialled, and aircraft and cities are designed. VR is, in fact now, the most effective device ever invented for researching what a human being actually is – and how we think and feel.
More than thirty years ago, legendary computer scientist, visionary and artist Jaron Lanier pioneered its invention. Here he blends scientific investigation, philosophical thought experiment and his memoir of a life lived at the centre of digital innovation to explain what VR really is: the science of comprehensive illusion; the extension of the intimate magic of earliest childhood into adulthood; a hint of what life would be like without any limits.
We are standing on the threshold of an entirely new realm of human creativity, expression, communication and experience, and as we use VR to test our relationship with reality, it may test us in return.
‘Vivid and absolutely extraordinary’ Evening Standard
A terrific book by a supremely intelligent guy ... vivid and absolutely extraordinary
Essential reading, not just for VR-watchers but for anyone interested in how society came to be how it is, and what it might yet become
A 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 ... interspersing the general ideas, principles and promise of VR with intimate autobiography ... aided by the fact that Lanier's childhood was preposterously unusual … combin[ing] tragedy, whimsy and peril in ways that might seem far-fetched for even a David Lynch film
Lanier is a visionary who sees a world suffused with the possibility of good ... As with William Blake, you might first be repelled by the strangeness of it all, the sense of teetering on the edge of madness, but, on looking closer, you realise you are in the presence of a gifted truth-teller
Fascinating as life itself … a modern history of the industry that changed the world
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