Jaron Lanier Gadgets, Dreams And Dilemmas

Saturday 14 August 2021, 1-2pm

Jaron Lanier is a pioneering American technologist best known as one of the founders of ‘virtual reality’ (VR) – a term he coined.

As part of the 2021 Sydney Science Festival, he will appear via video link in a conversation facilitated by the Museum’s Acting Director of Curatorial, Collections and Exhibitions, Matthew Connell.

Lanier will respond to ten technological objects from the Museum’s computing science collection, which includes gems such as Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine No 1, letters from Ada Lovelace to Charles Babbage, the Apple 1 computer and Enigma cipher machine.

The visionary innovator and thought leader will connect the legacy of the Powerhouse collection to dialogues around the latest emerging technologies, the ethical quandaries of social media and the ideology of Silicon Valley, where he has been on the forefront of technological innovation since the 1980s.

Jacquard punch cards with sample of ribbon, Apple I Computer and Enigma cipher machine
View the collection set


Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, artist and author who writes on topics such as high-technology business, the social impact of technology and the future of humanism. In 2018, Wired magazine named Lanier one of the 25 most influential people in the previous 25 years of tech history. His books include international bestsellers Who Owns the Future? (2013) and Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (2018). In 2020, he appeared in Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma.

Matthew Connell is the Acting Director of Curatorial, Collections and Exhibitions and has been a curator at Powerhouse Museum since 1991, working in the fields of computing and mathematics, information technologies, physical science and engineering. He is also an adjunct professor at UNSW’s iCinema Centre for Interactive Cinema Research and is involved in a research project exploring interactive immersive systems.