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The age of virtual reality has finally arrived, part V

Our species has long been dedicated to overcoming the limitations of physicality

To sum it all up–video and audio VR has finally arrived. This is an exhilarating, revolutionary development with applications ranging from education to ‘infotainment.’ Significant challenges remain, however, including potentially damaging neurological effects on users.

Conjecture about the far future of VR is similar to things futurists said over 20 years ago when this technology first caught the public imagination. However, the probable tech framework for future developments has evolved.

Speculation from
futurologists about VR’s far future

While VR is a quantum leap into new realms, our species has long been dedicated to overcoming the limitations of physicality–beginning with radio, telephone, and now 2D internet device communications. That said, are we ready for a VR technology that will help us move beyond all physical restrictions, including those we’re born with? If such technology becomes viable, it will inevitably meet with resistance. However, the millennial generation shift towards digitized social lives demonstrates how dramatic the culture can change in a short span of time.

Whether AI can advance to exceed the complex sophistication of the human brain is the subject of heated debate. Luminaries like Elon Musk and Bill Gates have expressed strong concern about the potential downside of AI (e.g., our becoming, at best, ‘AI pets’).

If AI doesn’t relegate us to the scrap heap of evolution, it holds the promise of submerging us in completely new worlds with even greater clarity than waking life. In such VR realms, communication would be telepathic and our minds transportable from place to place. Ultimately, our minds/personalities would be uploadable to a computer-generated simulation that would appear to cheat death.

Could such a transfer really capture a person’s subjective sense of self? Also, how would we experience existence as an eternal being/construct without limitation, even death (save for the possible destruction of a computer housing one’s personal simulation)?

future of VR

Experiencing a perfected reality
through the eyes
of a perfected self

Long before such existential challenges emerge, futurologists have speculated that by 2040 you may experience a completely convincing immersive VR in a highly evolved personal avatar that fully engages all your senses. There’s strong evidence that this would have a measurable impact on your sense of self. For example, if your avatar were taller and more athletic than you are, your confidence would go up as well as your willingness to assert control over your virtual environment. If your avatar were especially attractive, you’d be friendlier.

Sociologists have long described the ‘social construction of reality,’ a good part of which is your perception of how others define you. Experiments show that younger people who inhabit elderly avatars are more likely to save money in simulated situations, a behavioral shift that transfers to the real world. –Overall, VR holds impressive potential for behavior modification, especially empathy building and recovery from traumatic experiences.

If interested in knowing more about this subject, Google the following terms–the singularity; programmable matter;  foglets; molecular assemblers; nanotechnology; electronic transcendence, and; infomorph.

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