Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 134 / OCTOBER 1991 / PAGE 160

Mind expansion. (interview with Timothy Leary)

Timothy Leary is the former Harvard psychology professor whose philosophy, "Tune in, turn on, drop out," changed the face of America in the 1960s. Since then, his interests have turned to computers and virtual reality. Periodically, Dr. Leary appears on America Online for informal interaction with subscribers. Here is the transcript of one of his recent appearances.

Timothy Leary: Let me say a few words about what's going on in my life these days. We're working on a newsletter which has a tentative publication date of July 4th. The name is tentatively "Timothy Leary's Animations." The newsletter will be very interactive. We'll be soliciting articles from our readers for future editions.

Question: Dr. Leary, what prompted you to get into software? Also, any electronics-related stories you can relate to us from the 1960s?

Leary: What prompted me to get involved with software is the interaction between computers and the human mind. The language of computers gave me the metaphor I was searching for 20 years ago. As [for] the 1960s, that's a "whole nother lifetime." We're now in the 1990s. Why look back?

Q: Tell us about your software for mind expansion.

Leary: The reasoning behind the mind expansion software is the empowerment of the individual where everything that appears on the screen is what you have put there.

Q: What have you been doing in recent years, Dr. Leary?

Leary: I'm the head of two very influential software development companies. One is called FUTIQUE, and the other is TELELECTRONICS. We are developing 3-D electronic environments for the Mac, IBM, and the new 16-bit videogame appliances. Our company's aim is to load onto compact disc prefabricated fully furnished homes, gardens, landscapes, and any environment that the user would like to "boot up."

Q: What do you think about the Libertarian party?

Leary: I am an enthusiastic member of the Libertarian Party. I think that in politics the politicians of both parties, Democratic [and] Republican, pander to the lowest common denominator. Therefore, Newton's Law of Politics is true: "In politics the scum rises to the top." For this reason, I back the Libertarian Party. Our aim is to diminish, decrease, decimate the power of the state to interfere in the individual's life

Q: Have you been doing any experiments with virtual reality?

Leary: Yes, I am involved with several groups developing TELEPRESENCE environments and electronic environments. I probably give more lectures and demonstrations about VR than anyone in the field.

Q: When will Mind Mirror be available for Macintosh?

Leary: We are trying to get an update and revision of Mind Mirror for the Mac. With graphics, graphics, and more graphics! It is one of the two great sorrows of my life that Mind Mirror, my wonderful head program, was never translated for my Mac-using friends.

Q: Do you have software [currently available] for the Macintosh?

Leary: I do not have functioning Mac software. I can, however, strongly recommend four Mac products which convert the screen into a comfortable, livable, 3-D environment. These programs are 1) Virtual Valerie, 2) Spaceship Warlock, 3) Manhole, and 4) Cosmic Osmo.

Q: What about the software you're currently working on?

Leary: We are working, as I mentioned before, on developing 3-D programs which will allow performers to select and move around in an electronic environment. Our programs are interactor theaters where a small group can assemble for purposes of education, entertainment, and enlightenment. The three E's of the electronic twenty-first century.

Q: Dr. Leary, could you comment on the advent of virtual reality? Someone pointed out that it couldn't compare to LSD. Do you see this new technology as a substitute for drugs?

Leary: No. Virtual reality isn't a substitute for organic psychedelic plants and drugs. Psychedelic drugs allow you to exit the repetitious word processes of your mind to boot up limitless programs, directories, and files in your brain. All of which, by the way, are technicolor, multimedia, and moving at the speed of light. On the other hand, electronic devices like the new computer-graphics hardware allow you to select electronic patterns and multimedia environments to express the panoramas of your own brain.