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What I mean when I say "I think VR is bad news".


An interesting post by a programmer working on VR/AR:

I'm not going to excerpt anything, but if you're interested in AR/VR, this fellow worked on it at Valve and has some interesting things to say. The best stuff is at the end.

I'm not a virtual reality fanatic but I read it and was unconvinced that there was any substance to his objections.

I think he might be conflating the "internet of things" with VR a little bit in places.

I have no major objection to VR technology in and of itself even if, like any technology, it holds the potential for abuse. And you can rest assured there will be those who will attempt to abuse it.

But VR is really no different than any other emergent technology in that respect.

I think Fabian is mostly speiling back (in a half-baked manner) some of the concerns VR pioneer Jaron Lanier expressed more eloquently and coherently several years ago; and which he eventually condensed into his One-Half a Manifesto.

Excerpt: Conclusion from One-Half of a Manifesto I share the belief of my cybernetic totalist colleagues that there will be huge and sudden changes in the near future brought about by technology. The difference is that I believe that whatever happens will be the responsibility of individual people who do specific things. I think that treating technology as if it were autonomous is the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy. There is no difference between machine autonomy and the abdication of human responsibility.

Let's take the "nanobots take over" scenario. It seems to me that the most likely scenarios involve either:

    a) Super-nanobots everywhere that run old software- linux, say. This might be interesting. Good video games will be available, anyway.

    b) Super-nanobots that evolve as fast as natural nanobots- so don't do much for millions of years.

    c) Super-nanobots that do new things soon, but are dependent on humans. In all these cases humans will be in control, for better or for worse.

So, therefore, I'll worry about the future of human culture more than I'll worry about the gadgets. And what worries me about the "Young Turk" cultural temperament seen in cybernetic totalists is that they seem to not have been educated in the tradition of scientific skepticism. I understand why they are intoxicated. There IS a compelling simple logic behind their thinking and elegance in thought is infectious.

There is a real chance that evolutionary psychology, artificial intelligence, Moore's Law fetishizing, and the rest of the package, will catch on in a big way, as big as Freud or Marx did in their times. Or bigger, since these ideas might end up essentially built into the software that runs our society and our lives. If that happens, the ideology of cybernetic totalist intellectuals will be amplified from novelty into a force that could cause suffering for millions of people.

The greatest crime of Marxism wasn't simply that much of what it claimed was false, but that it claimed to be the sole and utterly complete path to understanding life and reality. Cybernetic eschatology shares with some of history's worst ideologies a doctrine of historical predestination. There is nothing more gray, stultifying, or dreary than a life lived inside the confines of a theory. Let us hope that the cybernetic totalists learn humility before their day in the sun arrives.

(* Parts of this manifesto draw on material from two earlier essays. One appeared in CIO Magazine in English, and the other in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in German, as part of that newspaper's ongoing coverage of the Edge community.)
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I'm not a virtual reality fanatic but I read it and was unconvinced that there was any substance to his objections.
-mouser (July 12, 2014, 06:38 AM)
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I'm not sure why you say that. He's stating how things are, then expressing a preference.

That's a very cyberpunk future all right, but one I'd prefer not to live in.
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@40hz - Nice excerpt. I particularly liked the last paragraph. "There is nothing more gray, stultifying, or dreary than a life lived inside the confines of a theory." Which is pretty much most dystopian stories.


Hmm. I will probably misfire my tone here and I only glanced at the article, but here goes.

To me VR/AR/___ can be divided into a few parts. For brevity, let's separate out a couple with quick notes. At one point about the year 2000 I "foresaw" parts of our current predicament. I'd sorta date about 1995 with the advent of Win95 plus Netscape as the early modern dawn of the net. Looking back, only five years from 1995-2000 really was rather quick of the net's "innocent age". Hopes were high, and we had some of our best cyberpunk movies.

By weird coincidences, the economic fall of Net 1.0 and the September theme came rather close together.

Now we're just in this "staring at each other in a fishbowl" stage that's basically been going on for *fifteen years*.
We're already had this "VR" mindset, where you look up anything you ever wanted to know related to anything you are doing. The only difference is an interface that's a little slower aka "pull out your phone (or go home to your desktop)" vs "overlaid on reality".

I'm terrible on faces so I'd see an obvious case of "wave my data glove and look up who that is", but that's just techno-peanuts.

I am thinking more of the emotional moods of society, and we had five years of youthful hope, and fifteen years of semi dark dystopia. What I don't have the answer to is how to keep that from becoming fifty years of increasing dystopia.



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