Lanier writes how he was scared witless when he learned how humans could be conditioned and brainwashed through selective feedback responses. It was then it dawned on him, what he later referred to as “the Thought”, that VR is the ultimate technology for a skinner box; the perfect tool for human manipulation.
Lanier summarised an equation for the terrifying outlook of the ultimate Skinner box, and its reads as follows:
Turing^Moore’s Law * (Pavlov, Watson, Skinner) = Zombie Apocalypse
In other words: if we combine our ever growing computational powers with behavioural manipulation, shit will hit the fan. Those in power of defining the behaviour of the people in the box will have absolute power to bend the world to their will. The result, according to Lanier, will be catastrophic.
In a recent Forbes article, Lanier is quoted:
„If you run [the metaverse] on a business model that’s similar to the one that Facebook runs on, it’ll destroy humanity. I’m not saying that rhetorically. That is a literal and specific prediction that humanity could not survive that. (…) VR can either be beautiful art and sympathy or terrible spying and manipulation. We set its meaning”