I got my second big wave of interest in digital technology when the weirdest and most psychedelic people I knew from Princeton, where I went to college, ended up moving out to California to become part of the digital revolution in the mid to late ‘80’s. 

I was perplexed as to why these kinds of people, the sort of long-haired Grateful Dead, DMT-taking freaks, were going to work for Sun Micro Systems and Northrop Grumman and Intel. 

I was used to the little kind of geeky pocket-protector people going and doing that, not these folks.  So I started taking trips out there to see what they were doing.  And they were working on virtual reality and chip design and interface.  And what I came to realize was that they were building an entirely new reality.  They were building the interface through which we were going to be interacting with the world.  And the reason why these people were being hired to do it was because they were the only people who were comfortable in hallucinatory realities, living in this kind of lucid dream where anything they could imagine would be beheld. 

And so I was just fascinated watching these guys doing coding during the day and scraping peyote off cactuses at night and going to raves until morning.  I was trying to piece together for people what was going to happen to our world based on the people who were designing it for us. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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