The author of ‘Avatars’ talks about cyber cocktail parties and the concept of shared virtual worlds
Bruce Damer, a pioneer in the field of virtual worlds and author of “Avatars,” spoke with me by phone in advance of the PopTech conference in Camden, Maine.
Have you been to PopTech before?
This will be our first trip. My life partner, Galen Brandt, will be coming, too. I’ve heard so much about it.
What have they asked you to talk about?
I was brought into PopTech by Ray Kurzwell as our organizations (the Contact Consortium and DigitalSpace) have been doing virtual worlds stuff for seven years now. I even wrote a book on the subject. I have to say I’m a little skeptical of the notion that some day AI’s will replace us and we’ll fall in love with them or upload our consciousness. I agree with Jaron Lanier that in fact we are as a species pretty bad at writing code and that in 25 years we will still be buried under the weight of legacy systems. I have a whole barn full of computers on our property here in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California that bears living testament that progress in software is painfully slow. I wrote a lot of code for 15 years giving me a healthy respect for the gap between expectations and reality in technology. In response to last year’s debate among folks like Bill Joy, Jaron, Ray and others, I wrote a piece for Ray’s site that pretty much spells our my views on this.