Second life

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I was thinking about the advances and future applications of VR and the implications for the real world, advances in computing capabilities, sensors, 3D scanners & printers and haptic suits etc and having just been part of the construction of a state of the art shopping facility the two worlds collided in my mind.

I wondered how much longer something like shopping would be a physical activity. I already do my grocery shopping online along with anything from clothing and grooming products to household appliances and dog food. They get delivered to my door often for free, why wouldnt I.

So this is what I envisage;

So you want to catch up with your friends and spend a day in the mall shopping, maybe catch a movie, problem is you live in London, your bestie is in New York and 2 others are in Singapore and Natalie is backpacking in SE Asia. However it’s not the physical distance that’s a problem it’s the Timezones. Finally you all agree on a time and everybody logs in to The Byte Cafè Natalie comments and says you’re using an old body scan from 3 years ago and asks why you’re not updated? Using old scans is frowned upon in this world.

You are discussing the next stage in your lives, some are focusing on career (whatever that might be in ten years) and others are talking about having children. The conversation turns to the defects in the DNA of someones partner and how much it’s going to cost to edit his genes using CRISPR because conceiving “normally” is considered archaic and irresponsible now.

In order to imitate and facilitate real world interaction your bio data including facial photography and 3 D body scans will be input via scanning centres to your VR profile. In turn, clothing, shoes, electronics etc are scanned by manufacturers using the same technology so if it fits in the cyber world it fits in the real world. Then everything changes when it comes to trying it on. Would you rather an interactive AR mirror at home where you can browse the global clothing market and have your outfit tailored by robots and delivered by drones on time for your event tonight. If there is a demand for it so it will become. If Jeff Bezos has anything to do with it it will be so.

So with the dawning of this new era so too will it bring its own unique social and personal challenges. The negative aspects of body image will be exponentially worse than it is now. Social isolation has the potential to get worse but also has massive potential to improve enormously. Imagine being able to experience the running or the bulls or the Diwali festival of lights in India with millions of other people and being able to interact. If inviting someone into your home was possible through AR after having met them in your VR world. Then of course, as I have written before, the pioneers of the visual world are usually movie studios and more recently adult entertainment companies. Pornhub, the early adopters of imersive 360 video, will no doubt be all over these possibilities. Bringing a new world of adult entertainment far beyond the visual and with it a corresponding increase of the social and addiction issues relating to same. Because, we have all daydreamed, wandered away into a world of our own, have you ever been so deeply engaged in a spectacular dream that when awoken abruptly from it you were furious and longed to be back there again, clinging to the remnants of that perfect world inside your subconscious.

In this world detached from the physical, we can see, hear and touch but what about smell and taste? Is anyone experimenting with this, I’m sure someone somewhere is working on an implant to artificially mimic the olfactory senses for other reasons and these world too will collide eventually.

People who have experienced lucid dreaming will tell you of amazing life changing experiences, unbelievable possibilities and almost indistinguishable realism all from the comfort of their own cosy bed. This is where VR is headed and why would you want to leave. Maybe you have to go to work you say? Well that’s changing too. So fast that companies are now employing change managers. The dawn of universal basic income and mass automation is disrupting many industries. Uncertainty is more abundant than ever but with it comes opportunity.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.

– Albert Einstein

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