“Virtual reality is like dreaming with eyes open.” - Brennan Spiegel
he human race has come a long, long way from the ancient times. With every passing decade, we have made some remarkable strides in the technology sector. Advanced gadgets, artificial intelligence, robots. You name it, we have made it. But one particular sector has been in the center-stage of attention for quite a few years now. It’s called Virtual Reality. Or VR, for short. Now the possibilities that virtual reality opens up to, is countless. If those reading this article have seen a movie called ‘Ready Player One’, then you might have a strong idea of what I’m talking about. Augmented reality is defining new limits. It’s setting benchmarks in the area of technological dependency. But this is not why I’m writing this article. Most certainly not. What I’m going to talk about, is how virtual reality is tearing up our world. How it’s plaguing our thought processes. Virtual reality is not the solution to our problems. It is the problem.
A concept image of a VR headset.
Let’s just delve into the history of VR first.
The exact origins of virtual reality are disputed, partly because of how difficult it has been to formulate a definition for the concept of an alternative existence. Other elements of virtual reality appeared as early as the 1860s. Antonin Artaud took the view that illusion was not distinct from reality, advocating that spectators at a play should suspend disbelief and regard the drama on stage as reality.The virtual reality industry mainly provided VR devices for medical, flight simulation, automobile industry design, and military training purposes from 1970 to 1990.The 2000s were a period of relative public and investment indifference to commercially available VR technologies. With such a varied historical development timeline, the emergence of VR seemed like a technological breakthrough. But as it is the case with everything else, excess of anything is bad. And when it comes to greed, no one can outperform the human race in that category.
NASA Virtual Reality pioneer, Scott Fisher trying out the VR headset in the 1970s.
With VR gaining prominence all over the world, it was just a few years of time before we’d use it excessively. And boy we did. It’s 2019 already, and most virtual reality systems come with consumer warnings, including: seizures; developmental issues in children; trip-and-fall and collision warnings; discomfort; repetitive stress injury; and interference with medical devices. Some users may experience twitches, seizures or blackouts while using VR headsets, even if they do not have a history of epilepsy and have never had blackouts or seizures before. As many as one in 4,000 people may experience these symptoms. Since these symptoms are more common among people under the age of 20, children are advised against using VR headsets. Other problems may occur in physical interactions with one's environment. While wearing VR headsets, people quickly lose awareness of their real-world surroundings and may injure themselves by tripping over, or colliding with real-world objects, as in the case of a high amount of deaths while playing the popular game, Pokémon GO.
The hazardous game, which has claimed quite a few lives.
Then there’s the issue of our privacy. The persistent tracking required by all VR systems makes the technology particularly useful for, and vulnerable to, mass surveillance. The expansion of VR will increase the potential and reduce the costs for information gathering of personal actions, movements and responses. With cybercrime on the rise, it’s a just a matter of time, before VR is used to simulate real-time events and manipulate people into splurging out personal details. A criminal may never find a way to reform. But he’ll always find a way to commit a new crime.
To sum it up, virtual reality is indeed helpful when it comes to disaster simulations, real-time gaming experience and a whole lot other uses in different fields. But fact of the matter is that we’re using it exponentially. And sooner or later, its bad will outweigh its good. Virtual reality was a thing of the future, which has now cemented its stronghold in the present. In a matter of a few years, it’ll become just a memory of the past.Until then, we can just sit and wait for the inevitable. For sometimes, certain things have to fall apart, to make way for better things.