Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality are emerging as powerful new operating platforms for human interaction. The fear surrounding this new technology is understandable. Yet, we're still at the cusp of this revolution, which means that those inhabiting these environments first will have an outsized impact on their development. What is the metaverse for? Can these alternate realities exist in a way that’s productive for humanity? What opportunities and challenges are just over the horizon?
Maya is the Senior Director of the Innovation Center and XR, AI, and Quantum Labs at The New School. She leads a team driving innovation focused on immersive storytelling, spatial computing, AI, Quantum Computing, future interfaces, and design. Maya teaches the signature Immersive Storytelling course at Parsons School of Design and often speaks about the Metaverse and frontier technologies like AI and Quantum and speculative futures. Her work has been featured at SXSW, the MIT Media Lab, The Atlantic, The Economist, and the Fulbright Program, among others. She is the co-author and principal investigator of the State of XR and Immersive Learning Report. She has authored white papers on the future of education and immersive learning in EDUCAUSE Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education. Maya actively writes and speaks on the topics of the metaverse, immersive storytelling, and the future of learning, creativity, and work and consults organizations and startups in this space. She has been named one of the 30 Higher Education Influencers to follow in 2022.
She is also the co-founder of Digital Bodies, an award-winning website focusing on VR/AR/MR and their impact on media and society. She has worked with Google, HP, Microsoft, Intel, Facebook, and various education and non-profit organizations on developing immersive experiences, digital strategy, and innovation. Maya has spoken at United Nations and European Commission on education, policy, and corporate Innovation forums.
Charlotte Kent, PhD is the Assistant Professor of Visual Culture at Montclair State University and an arts writer. Her work theorizes how visual and linguistic rhetorical devices constrain what we see by exploring their historical and political context. Her current research investigates the absurd in contemporary art and speculative design. She writes for academic journals (Leonardo, Word and Image, Journal of Visual Culture, etc) and general audience magazines (Art Review, BOMB, Wired, among others), with a monthly panel and column on Art and Technology for the Brooklyn Rail, where she is also an Editor-at-Large. Prior to academia, she developed education for the eyecare industry and managed an art school located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a graduate of the CUNY Graduate Center, St. John’s College, and Philips Academy Andover and currently lives in New York City.
Named one of the “world’s ten most influential intellectuals” by MIT, Douglas Rushkoff is an author and documentarian who studies human autonomy in a digital age. His twenty books include the just-released Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires, as well as the recent Team Human, based on his podcast, and the bestsellers Present Shock, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Program or Be Programmed, Life Inc, and Media Virus. He also made the PBS Frontline documentaries Generation Like, The Persuaders, and Merchants of Cool. His book Coercion won the Marshall McLuhan Award, and the Media Ecology Association honored him with the first Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity.
Rushkoff’s work explores how different technological environments change our relationship to narrative, money, power, and one another. He coined such concepts as “viral media,” “screenagers,” and “social currency,” and has been a leading voice for applying digital media toward social and economic justice. He is a research fellow of the Institute for the Future, and founder of the Laboratory for Digital Humanism at CUNY/Queens, where he is a Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics. He is a columnist for Medium, and his novels and comics, Ecstasy Club, A.D.D, and Aleister & Adolf, are all being developed for the screen.