ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Timothy Leary, the one-time LSD guru who became the 1960s' most famous adventurer in chemicals, has a new sort of mind-altering trip in mind these days.
Leary's latest interest is so-called "virtual reality," a computer-simulated experience he believes could transform the way most of us live.
"The human race," he proclaimed at a press conference yesterday in Minneapolis, "has not learned how to use electrons. I predict that 20 or 25 years from now people will look back at us in 1992 and say, 'Those poor, confused barbarians, they didn't know how to operate their brains.'"
The 72-year-old Leary talked with reporters before addressing the annual conference of the Travel and Tourism Research Association.
As Leary sees it, virtual reality will one day make business travel all but obsolete, since people will be able to come together electronically to create what he calls "telepresence."
This will be possible because of virtual reality's ability to create the sensation of being in another place through computerized manipulation of the senses. Special headsets, even body suits, with electronic connections can be used to provide images, sounds and other simulations of reality.