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Jaron Lanier awarded

October 12, 2014

American Jaron Lanier, who is heralded as one of the pioneers of virtual reality, has received one of Germany's most prestigious publishing prizes. The ceremony took place on the last day of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels 2014 Jaron Lanier
Image: REUTERS/K. Pfaffenbach

American Internet pioneer, author, musician and artist Jaron Lanier was presented the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade on Sunday for his "scientific approach to the dawning of the digital age."

The ceremony at Frankfurt's Church of St. Paul was held in front of a thousand invited guests on the final day of the city's international book fair.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz presented the award, praising Lanier for seeing and speaking of the dangers and risks associated with the Internet. He said the debate around the digital future concerned everyone: "It is decisive for our future freedom, for justice, and whether we will live in a humane, cohesive, pluralistic and creative world."

Scientific, yet cautious

In his speech, Lanier warned of the dangers of "cheap and casual mass espionage and manipulation" from the Internet that threatened individuals with a "loss of security." He said it was important that the Internet should not become the only platform for communication. But he noted that he still enjoyed a "greater joy" from technology than he could express.

In their statement announcing Lanier as the winner last June, the Board of Trustees of the German Book Trade referred to him as a "true pioneer of the digital world" and praised him for his scientific, yet cautious, approach to the dawning of the digital age.

Lanier's titles to date include: "Who Owns the Future?" and "You are Not a Gadget." As a computer engineer, he developed the concept of virtual reality with VPL Research, a company he founded in 1985.

Together with writing, Lanier is active as a painter, composer, and lecturer on computer science.

jm/glb (dpa, EPD)