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One of 24 Metaverse Summit question-answer sets: Guy Garnett shares his thoughts on the networked future

This page contains one of a set of 24 transcripts including remarks made by interview participants at the Metaverse Roadmap Summit at Stanford Research Institute in May 2006. Each person was asked a series of five questions regarding the future; only the most “telling” responses were transferred from the recordings into these transcripts, thus, some of these interviews will include five question-answer sets, some will have four or fewer.

To jump to another interviewee’s set of answers, click on the person’s name below.

Bridget Agabra Randy Farmer Jerry Paffendorf
Betsy Book Guy Garnett Marty Poulin
Corey Bridges Will Harvey Robert Scoble
Iveta Brigis Daniel James John Smart
Jamais Cascio Raph Koster David Smith
Helen Cheng Mike Liebhold Sibley Verbeck
Esther Dyson Julian Lombardi Malcolm Williamson
Doug Engelbart Bob Moore Ethan Zuckerman

>> Return to Metaverse interviews lead page for links to recordings of these comments

Garnett Headshot Guy Garnett is the director of the Cultural Computing Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where an interdisciplinary group is studying the forthcoming change in social, political, and economic dynamics due to the arrival of synthetic worlds on the 3D internet.

What is your greatest fear for the future of networked technologies? That somebody will “own” it. I think it’s really crucial that these technologies are owned by humanity, not by governments, not by corporations. That’s the best way to assure that they are really available to everybody and that they are being driven by human needs.

What do you think policymakers should do to ensure a positive future for networked technologies? It would be to establish the models by which the architecture, the cyberinfrastructure, and these technologies – these converging technologies that I talked about – are actually communally owned, are public domain in the broadest sense. They belong to the human community, and we maintain a very strong wall between the ownership of the infrastructure and the tools and the technology and what companies, corporations, governments own and control.

Looking out more than 10 years, what development will have the greatest impact on society? It’s going to really be a convergence of technologies that’s really important. The convergence of things like the web, the convergence of new modalities of human-computer interactions and interfaces and new understandings of how we can use the human mind to drive the power of those computing technologies. So I wouldn’t say any one technology is going to be the primary thing that’s going to be the most earth-shattering event in the next years but all of these things coming together so that we really start to inhabit the internet, inhabit this metaverse that we’re here talking about today. It’s several things that are coming up that are going to interact with each other in ways that we just don’t imagine at the moment. What we’re doing here is we’re trying to imagine this world that we want to live in in 10 years and it’s virtual, it’s a world where imagination reigns and where creativity is the only capital one needs to do anything one can imagine. And all that’s going to be made possible by a series of new technologies relating to the internet, relating to data structures, relating to a whole panoply of things.

What technology will have the greatest impact on our everyday lives the next 10 years? The greatest insight into it can be gained by playing computer games. When you’re in a computer game (it seems as if) anything can happen. It’s really dependent on the imagination and creativity of the designers. We’re trying to build a world where that is the reality. Even though we’ll be in a virtuality, it will be as if we’re not in a game, but that will be our life because we’ll migrate into that kind of a domain.

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