Answer is Jaron Lanier.
The movie Lawnmower Man, originally supposed to be based entirely on stephen king’s short story, was only slightly related to the short story. It was in part based on jaron lanier, whose company (called VPL) created some of the earliest virtual reality gear – gloves, eyepiece etc.
He also advocated the use of avatars in these VR’s. He is also a founding board member of Second Life.
As a recent interview with him stated, for a white guy in dreads, he has been incredibly productive.
Apologies for the delay in updating the answer to this question.