Lecture agency to contact is:

Steven Barclay


Steven Barclay Agency
12 Western Avenue
Petaluma, CA 94952
TEL 707-773-0654
FAX 707-778-1868
Email: steven@barclayagency.com

WEB www.barclayagency.com




I love speaking assignments and am accomplished in reaching an unusually wide variety of audiences.  I speak to kids and CIOs and scientists and artists.  I've given the keynote for the Arab Bankers Association (really!), been the headline act on cruise ships, and given technical lectures over beat boxes and scratchers as a science rapper.  I'm funny; used to be a regular on the "Stand up scientists" series in NYC.  I love collaborations and debates.  In debates, I usually end up either as the soft spiritual person facing excessively narrow scientists or the skeptical realist facing diverse idealists, and no shift in personality is required to take on both roles.

Below are some titles, abstracts, and slides from assorted lectures.  This selection is skewed toward academic and technical content because those are the kinds of talks that leave these trails behind. 

Here are some cartoons that illustrate a recent "punditry gig".

Appeared on a panel with Paul Saffo, George Gilder, and Bill Joy at the 2005 Stanford Innovation Summit  Here's one account, and another and another.  Watch it as streaming video here.

Here's a video of me giving a talk via video conference technology to an audience in Europe from California.

Watch an open source movie of a talk to extropians which I hope shook them up.

 TITLE: "How well do people have to see each other for visual telecommunication to work well, or would people prefer not be seen precisely?"


Visual telecommunication technologies have never met human factors
requirements. Worse, the full extent of the requirements is not yet
known.  We are learning a lot, however.  It is now possible to propose
lines of demarcation between high-end video conferencing and
tele-immersion.  Tele-immersion ought to convey certain cues that
demonstrably matter to the outcome of communication even if
non-specialist participants are not able to articulate the nature of
these cues as they are experiencing them.  Fundamental physical limits
make the design of high performance tele-immersive interfaces difficult,
but strategies are emerging that are likely to overcome known barriers.
We are close enough to reaching the goal of quality tele-immersion that
it's time to ask how tele-immersive fidelity might need to be limited in
precise ways to bring out the best in the curious social species
tele-immersion is intended to help.

"Technology and the Future of the Human Soul"  or "What is a Person?"
Technology is getting powerful enough that it will soon change the meaning
of the word "person".  How will we find meaning and direction when
biotechnology and artificial intelligence threaten to undo every
assumption we have about our identities?  One easy answer is to embrace
some idea of progress for its own sake, even if it means demoting the
human agenda. The other easy answer is to turn backwards, to a seemingly
traditional, or fundamentalist, vision of human identity, even if this
vision is actually a recent invention.  What is difficult is finding a
new, but human-centered, path forward.

"Advice to a Young Digital Artist"
Technology offers convenience, but people are searching for meaning.  Most
digital developments offer neither, for the simple reason that the
creators are confused about what a computer is.  A skeptical appraisal of
computers and the psychology of relating to them can break through the
blandness barrier that confines most digital creations.

In effort to make utopianism respectable once again, I gave talk on a 1000 year optimistic scenario.  These are some of the powerpoint slides from that talk. 

"The Next Big Change: Sensors and Pattern Recognition."
Two trends have just converged into a super trend. One is the appearance of
robust pattern classification algorithms, such as face recognition programs.
The other is the arrival of cheap sensors, like cmos cameras.  These two
together bring about the possibility that computers will be entering most of their
own data soon, by massive sampling of the environment, instead of waiting for
people to enter it through a user interface.  There are two immediate issues that
demand attention as a result:  The first is that we must now articulate a policy for
deploying these new technologies that preserves privacy and civil liberties.  The
second question is no less important:  How does an organization make the best
use of these new capabilities?  After all, most of the data entered manually didn't
turn out to be useful; Won't automatically entered data be even lower quality, on
the whole?  These two questions are deeply related.  Defining human lines of
responsibility as machines take on new tasks is the core philosophical chore on
which both ethics and competitive success now depend.

Gave keynote talk for Digital Days at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.  Here's a video clip

The Next Five Hundred Years of Communication

Every technology visionary holds in his or her heart an extravagant image of what happens when computers, user interfaces, and networks are developed to their limit.  In some cases, as with McLuhan, natural languages disappear and are replaced by a universal mesh of direct brain links.  Science Fiction writers and Artificial Intelligence believers sometimes imagine the emergence of a new global-scale consciousness that would be separate from and "higher level" than people.  Each of these visions is a projection of core beliefs about epistemology and the nature of personhood.  In my case, my core optimistic mysticism has lead me to propose an alternate future of communication.  I call this "Post Symbolic Communication". 

In the Post Symbolic scenario, VR equipment has become ubiquitous (30 years from now), is accompanied by marvelous software authoring tools (100 years from now- software takes so long!), and a generation of children have grown up with fluency in the tools.  Because of the generational pace of adoption of new interfaces, my scenario must therefore only begin in perhaps 150 years or more.  In this future, children discover an alternative to the use of symbols; they invent the content of a shared environment at a conversational rate instead of using tokens like words to refer to contingents that aren't present.  I have explored the possibilities of this future extensively, and have found that some of our most cherished uses of abstraction, such as categories, are not necessary when one has fluent control of concreteness.

  Gave a keynote talk at OOPSLA this year on what alien computer programming techniques might be like.  There have been many requests for the slides, and I'll post them soon.

Title: Exocomputing in the Year 2304: A Survey of  Confirmed Alien Information Technologies

Jaron Lanier, Interstellar Computer Science Institute:  Jaron Lanier joined the Interstellar Computer Science Institute, based in Berkeley, CA, Earth, in 2303 as a Senior Research Scientist. He specializes in Virtual Reality, General Bio-information Theory, and Exocomputing.

Abstract: As more alien civilizations have been encountered in recent decades, a variety of exotic information technology strategies have come to light. It has often been difficult to analyze  these technologies, as alien cognitive and social factors must  be taken into account, and these are in themselves challenging  to interpret. It is now becoming possible to present an  overview of a variety of alien information technologies and to  glean insights into how they might inform the future of human  IT as well as what might be expected from future alien  encounters.


What remains to be done with Virtual Reality

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
 Stanford University February 13, 2004

VR by definition presents the ultimate user interface design challenge. Past decades of VR research have yielded a plentitude of useful results, both positive and negative, but much remains to be discovered. The last five years have seen an acceleration of research into collaboration in VR, and in particular the case in which users are represented with a degree of realism to one another. This type of configuration is often called "Tele-immersion." As is to be expected, many questions that have existed for decades can now be re-asked in a more practical way, for instance: When should an already-functioning user interface design be changed so that another person observing it can better understand what is going on? How much effort do people typically want to put into controlling their own appearance in a shared world? Should a user interface designer attempt to influence that user preference? What can be done to reduce the huge space of interaction possibilities so that users retain sufficient focus to accomplish a given task?


"Virtual Reality and the Future of Consumer

What will be the next craze after wireless?  A better reason to be wired!
The first prototype of "Tele-immersion", the driver application of
Internet2, started to work in 2000.  It is now possible to get a glimpse
of how people will use advanced networks and media in five to ten years.
If anyone had doubts, we can now be confident that consumers will want
much, much better connections than what we have been calling "broadband".

"Can Biotechnology Escape the Curse
of Software?"
Computer hardware keeps on getting better and cheaper, while critical
aspects of software appear to be trapped in the 1970s.  Some of the
seemingly imponderable questions about the next twenty years, such as the
potential for radical discontinuities in the social order and the
viability of bio- and nano-technologies, ultimately hinge on whether
software will catch up with hardware.  Natural evolution started slow, but
sped up.  Can we discern signs of a similar nascent acceleration in
software quality?

"What Will People Want After Broadband?"

For all the talk about new consumer information and entertainment
services, most of the ones that actually get financed are the same old
television and telephone in new packaging.  But consumers have
demonstrated that television is vulnerable.  "Reality TV" is now dominant,
but the key to understanding it is to realize that on average, consumers
are exhibitionists to the same degree they are voyeurs.  The asymmetrical
distribution systems being put in place fail to address the widespread
passion to be seen and known.

Go back to Jaron's home page.