Farewell to China and my friend Robert

Dr. Robert LaiOn June 25th Dr. Robert Lai (Mr. Lai Chi Tau) Chief Scientist of China’s Cyber Recreational District (CRD) passed away in his sleep at the age of 50. I met Robert at the Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo (VWCE) and in November I had the privilege to be invited by Robert to speak at the Virtual World Summit a part of the ICCIE Summit. As his guest I got to know Robert and came to regard him as a friend.

We all have aspirations great and small. Though he had lived his life as a scientist and teacher and was at that time the public face of the CRD, Robert’s dream was a modest retirement on a hillside in China. The CRD was to be his last task before relaxing and living the simple life. It saddens me to think Robert won’t get that chance. I hope he was dreaming that dream the night he left us in his sleep.

Robert was a man who you could not help but like. A man who you felt you could trust and who regardless of what happened around him would treat you with respect. He had an infectious love of life that was only tempered by the his role and place in the world. I will miss my friend Robert and how he represented to me the many sides of China as it enters this brave new world.

Farewell to our friend Robert, you will always be China to me.

Greg, Robert, Marty, Damon, Chris

Left to right: Greg, Robert, Marty, Damon, Chris

4 thoughts on “Farewell to China and my friend Robert

  1. I had forgot about that photo from the virtual worlds summit. Excellent shot. I agree with your note: “Another reminder that we need to start living our lives for today and cherish the friendships we have.”

  2. I was shocked when I found out. Thanks to Chris Sherman for letting me know. Thanks to Marty for your post. I also considered him a friend.

    For me and I think for many others as well, Robert was a bridge for us to understand and potentially engage with China.

    CRD and other virtual world/real world manufacturing projects will eventually find their way into the future for Chinese manufacturing and will have great impacts on the world. I’m disappointed for him that he didn’t get to get to see the outcome of his efforts.

    Robert, you will be missed.

  3. I was also shocked to learn Robert had passed away. He was the inspiration for my last trip to China and introduced Marty, Damon, Chris, me, and others to many people in China.

    He was a gracious and considerate host who understood both the U.S. and China and was very patient when trying to explain both the challenges and opportunities.

    As regards the Metaverse, Robert’s view that it was already here and presented more global opportunity than any other technical development certainly contributed to my belief in accelerated technical progress. I also very much liked that his focus was on how the bridging of the digital and physical worlds would have its greatest impact on commerce by enabling a real-time and direct communication between producers and consumers.

    He already lived in the Metaverse, teleporting instantly between Mandarin and English, China and the U.S., and tech talk and a shared tea time – with ample room for contemplation of the opportunities and challenges.

    He was and is a bridge.

    See you next time in the Metaverse, Robert. I miss your calm confidence.

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