Ezra Klein gives you a chance to get inside the heads of the newsmakers and power players in politics and media. These are extended conversations with policymakers, writers, technologists, and business leaders about what they believe in and why. Look elsewhere for posturing confrontation and quick reactions to the day's news. Subscribe for the anti-soundbite.
Oftentimes it’s easy for me to describe these conversations. This one is on Trump and Russia. That one is on health care. But not this time.
I want you to listen to this conversation, because Jaron Lanier is brilliant and his mind is unusual and spending some time within it is a privilege. But I don’t know how to describe it to you. It begins with the story of Lanier tripsitting Richard Feynman, the famed physicist, when he was dying from cancer and decided to try LSD, and it goes from there.
Lanier is a VR pioneer and a digital philosopher. He coined the term "virtual reality,” founded one of the first companies in the space, and has been involved in both the practice and theory of creating and living in virtual worlds for decades now. He's one of the most trenchant critics of Silicon Valley's business model, and the way it's screwed up both the internet and the world. And somehow, all this has made him a much more humanistic, insightful analyst of what it’s like to live in this world, too.
His latest book, “Dawn of the New Everything,” is one of my favorites of the last year — it’s thrilling to read a memoir that smart, and that strange, in an era that is so focused on making us dumber and angrier. And in person, Lanier is just as exciting — every answer has an insight worth hearing in it.
This is one of my favorite conversations I've had on the pod. Give it 15 minutes. If you don’t love it, I’ll give you your money back.
Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse
I and Thou by Martin Buber