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Thursday, February 25, 2016


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Yours is a balanced view of the potentials and dangers. I do want you to be right. I'm not offended if I only get to see The Great Wall of China by VR. It would be a nice use that would not end my RL travels. One cannot go everywhere in one lifetime.

My vision of VR, however, is closer to Lanier's; I also worry that the rich and powerful would just *love* the rest of us to "get a simulated reality” and buy their products. We'll enjoy that fake "clear blue sky" instead of doing what we can to make the real skies clean again. To hell with that.

If that nightmare comes true, it not only “might lead to a violent reaction.” It SHOULD.

Cube Republic

I can't believe the quotes above. Just because some silicone valley people are rich they think they're better than everyone else and should be immortal. Yeah to hell with fixing the issues of the world, lets just usher in a dystopian veal fattening farm for the poor.


The elites think that a cartoon little house on the prairie with make believe animals and make believe destinations is going to blind us to their crimes against humanity.

That may be. But then again, this new VR fantasyland can't put real food on the table. When people start starving, they start moving and it's always toward "Versailles" to go headhunting.

sirhc deSantis

Hmm, also in your article Carmack says "If someone wanted nothing more in life than to read books, providing them with a massive library is not doing them a disservice, even if that means that they are less likely to be involved in other activities" but there is no flow through stated about which 'others' he means. As a way of extending leisure - well, I wouldn't say no. But those 'others' involving the actual generation of, I don't know, the production or paying for, as opposed to simple consumption, or even sustaining the physical - well why bother with the corporeal form at all?

Yes his example is a massively over simplified one but I am not seeing much balance (not just the dystopian usual) anywhere to this uber-tech-for-the-sake-of-it stream.

Clara Seller

The Wired feature was very nice work.

It's really amusing to ponder predictions of the future from people who have something to sell.

It's like a version of trickle down economics with technology. If you make me rich and powerful, I promise your poor little lives will be better someday.


Wagner James Au

Thanks much. Yes, that's very much a common Silicon Valley mindset, not just in VR but across all kinds of tech startups.

pussycat catnap

A friend tells a story of going to a meeting with a major tech CEO. This is a high placed friend, and he went with a group of high placed people.

The CEO ordered lunch to be brought it when it got around noon. A staffer left and came back with exactly one tray of a fine meal, and set it in front of the CEO. Who then began to eat, and started to continue the meeting after that was done with. No other food was served.

That is the mindset of the top of the tech industry.

Many of these companies do provide impressive perks for their workers though. But there is usually a notable class distinction.

They're basically building a system where the workforce are to be seen as better than any outsiders, but still beneath them.

A few years back a Facebook exec hosted his wedding inside a protected area of one of our coastal parks. He had workers come in and clear out a portion of the area, and set up all the amenities for his private party.
- They had no permit, never asked, never even told the park service. And they acted offended when it came to light and the public demanded they be brought to account for it.

More recently another of these tech execs walled off the beach in front of his home. East coasters might not see the issue there, but in California there is a law that protects public access to the entire California coastline. Even if you own a beachfront mansion - the public has a right to use the beach, and must have access to it. This tech exec has now lost his first court case over this, and has the audacity to be trying to ramp it up in appeals. He considers it his beach, not ours.

At the same time - they have a Paternalist / Libertarian mindset of "father knows best". Like you typical Ayn Rand / Online Post-Apocalypse SciFi novel hero - they are the white male that will come in and single handidly rescue the rest of us all and create a perfect utopia.

We all naturally should just see how amazing their wisdom is, and do the things they suggest, because they know what is best for us...

Or so the way the see the world goes...

History has shown us that as decades of post colonial civil rights have moved through - the mindset of the 'Privileged White Male', and often of the 'Privileged White Female' has barely changed at all...
- Other than to have switched from openly hostile tactics to others, to a willful blindness that their actions are not what others desire.

pussycat catnap

Ok the above was in response to comments, but not the blog article.

Some interesting articles recently in Salon and Hiffington Post on racial perceptions and presumptions of privilege over the decades, coupled with Hillary's response to a question the other night informed how my comment came out.

As to the blog itself...

I'm wary of VR. I don't think it will be either a Utopia or Dystopia. I think it will just be another way to push ads at us, and collect analytics data about us that will in turn be used to market to us.

I predict more of a corporate dystopia, that we will only be able to save ourselves from if we empower government "properly" (responsive to us rather than ruling over us).

Dartagan Shepherd

I like to point out something to the "change the world" mindset folks.

I get my hammer from the shed, share with them how many homes it has built in its lifetime including free homes for people in need. It's an old hammer that kind of got passed down, so it's got some decads under its belt.

Now when I compare that hammer to say a social media application, after the signal to noise is filtered and time and value accounted for, my hammer stacks up higher in change-the-world value. It has provided homes, repairs, etc.

When they say that single hammer doesn't stack up, I remind them of how many hammers there are changing the world.

When you accomplish "that", you are truly changing the world. Otherwise, no it's just a headset that makes you dizzy.

Extropia DaSilva

It is OUR crimes against humanity not THEIR. It is a lot easier to blame others for the ills of the world rather than to look in the mirror and ask what we ourselves did or did not do that contributed to the mess.

I wonder what VR will do to revolutionise jobs? Videogames take dull work and make it so compelling people pay to do it. For the most part jobs take work and make it so awful (by setting it within fascist dictatorships, and other methods that I won't go into) that people wouldn't do it unless forced to through debt coercion.

Maybe generations brought up with the experience that work can be great fun will demand that paid work, even if the actual task is dull and repetitive (as is the case with most games, really) should be as enjoyable as videogaming and VR is?


"It is OUR crimes against humanity not THEIR. It is a lot easier to blame others for the ills of the world rather than to look in the mirror and ask what we ourselves did or did not do that contributed to the mess."


Do you Extropia live in a huge compound that could house 50 people when it is only you and possibly your own small family? Do you fly on private jets? Do you float around the world in your huge private yacht? Do you have a company that employs illegal aliens OR throws out citizen employees for H1-B Visa slaves?

The super rich LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to tell us little folk that we are polluting the earth and won't work for pennies. But it is them who are destroying our society and our environment. So open your eyes a little and get with the right side of the revolution.

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