15 Mar Virtualy reality doesn’t have to be creepy. Really.
Let this be said at the outset: I’m a virtual reality convert. And it’s been a rough couple of weeks for me.
The trouble started here, with this picture from the Mobile World Congress of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg walking by a crowd of people seemingly lost in their own little virtual realities.
In that image, a lot of people saw shades of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” or even of “The Matrix”:
That set off a wave of punditry and pontificating about how creepy virtual reality can be.
And that is completely understandable. Even as a person who really likes VR and all that it promises, I admit that one of the greatest weaknesses of virtual reality headsets are how they look from the outside. The fact that every person in that audience is missing the fact that Zuckerberg is walking past them compounds the image of virtual reality as an isolating activity. So does every cringe-inducing social media picture of people wearing them on the subway, oblivious to their fellow travelers and, presumably, also indifferent to getting off at the right stop.
But while it’s easy to see a future of solitude, troubling escapism or the dominance of machines in the Mobile World Congress image, “The Matrix” wasn’t my first thought when looking at that image. (Though it was, I admit, my second.) My first thought was this: