CNET Book Club: Jaron Lanier on the future of VR and why we should all quit social media

Episode 5: The VR pioneer shows us just how much we're being manipulated by Facebook.

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The present is full of virtual reality and augmented reality. But the past was, too. Jaron Lanier has been inventing VR and designing virtual worlds since the 1980s. 

He's the founder of VPL, a legendary company that manufactured VR hardware decades ago -- as featured in the 1992 movie The Lawnmower Man. He helped invent the Nintendo Power Glove. He's a collector of thousands of musical instruments. He was one of the futurists consulted by Steven Spielberg for Minority Report. He was one of the writers for one of the best magazines of the early 90s, Mondo 2000 (which has been reborn online recently). He's one of the first true cyberpunks.

If there was ever a perfect fit for CNET Book Club, Lanier is it.

CNET Book Club, Episode 5: Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier

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Lanier's also an intense critic of technology and social media. He's written two great books over the last year: Dawn of the New Everything is a surprisingly personal history of where virtual reality came from and how he founded his company. It's full of fascinating reflections on where VR and AR is heading next.

Lori Grunin/CNET

His newest book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, is a manifesto for life in a social media-dominated world, and a spin-off of Dawn of the New Everything. It was written to address growing concerns over Facebook, the personal data we increasingly share online, and whether or not social media is making us all miserable. (Spoiler: It is.) Reading it feels inspiring and concerning. It's a perfect little handbook for the weird world of behavioral manipulation we've all fallen into.

Lanier doesn't have any social media accounts, and says he's happier for it. 

Watch or listen to our conversation as we discuss our own online lives, virtual reality's current state of affairs, where AR might be going, plus immersive theater and lots more. Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for following.

About CNET Book Club

The Book Club is hosted by a pair of self-proclaimed book experts: Dan Ackerman, author of the nonfiction video game history book The Tetris Effect; and Scott Stein, a playwright and screenwriter. We'll be announcing our next Book Club selection soon, so send us your suggestions and keep an eye out for updates on Twitter at @danackerman and @jetscott.

Previous episodes

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Find Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play
Find Dawn of the New Everything at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play

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