Thursday, April 24, and Friday, April 25, 2014, UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs hosted a conference titled “Who Owns the Digital City?” The conference heralded the onset of a larger focus at the School on emerging public policy issues in an increasingly digitally interconnected world.
The conference kicked off Thursday night with a keynote address by Jaron Lanier, who was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” for his work as a pioneering technologist and futurist. Credited with coining the term “virtual reality,” Lanier founded VPL Research, the first company offering products in that space, in the 1980s. Lanier went on to become the chief scientist of Advanced Network and Services and also served as the lead scientist of the National Tele-immersion Initiative.
The second day of the conference included three main panels aimed at discussing the effects of the digital revolution. Speakers included academics and professionals in the information sciences, allowing participants to hear a wide range of perspectives on the digital revolution and its effects on urban and global issues. Dr. Ernest J. Wilson III, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, was one of those speakers. Peter Marx, Chief Innovation Technology Officer for the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles described Dean Wilson’s discussion of digital connectivity and economic disparity as “fascinating.” That sentiment apparently was shared by others in attendance as several tweets about the event included Wilson’s statement, “The cost of not being on net goes up exponentially [for] the excluded.”