14 votes

Billionaires see VR as a way to avoid radical social change

23 comments

  1. thundergolfer
    Link
    This is classic technocratic thinking. It's not totally wrong, but if you're ignoring the part social justice movements and other forms of political activism played in improving the world you're...

    “That’s how the world gets better, by building technologies and distributing them to people so that they have something better than they would have had if that didn’t exist,”

    This is classic technocratic thinking. It's not totally wrong, but if you're ignoring the part social justice movements and other forms of political activism played in improving the world you're being dumb.

    Technology may have played a part in civil rights, women's suffrage, and the 40 hours work week, but to suggest that it was the major player instead of the human activists? Nah, I'm pretty skeptical.

    The promise of VR is to make the world you wanted. It is not possible, on Earth, to give everyone all that they would want.

    I know it's the Rogan podcast, but why are our technological leaders allowed to be this lazy? VR only provides what people want if your manipulate them into wanting very specific things that can be simulated.

    13 votes
  2. [13]
    moocow1452
    Link

    If this all sounds like a nightmarish vision of the future where the world burns around us while we retreat into fantasy worlds, you’re not alone. “There’s this piece of art that goes around the internet of this dystopian kid in a corner, drooling, with goggles on with rainbow pictures and it’s a terrible looking place,” Carmack told Rogan. “And people say, ‘This is the world you’re trying to build, people plugged into virtual reality and ignoring the world around them.’”

    Carmack’s response isn’t encouraging. “Is his life really better if he takes them off and he’s in this horrible place?” he asked. “I live in Dallas. It’s 100 degrees there. We change the world around us in all that we do. We live in air-conditioning. People don’t generally go, ‘Oh, you’re not experiencing the world around you because of air-conditioning’ … That is what human beings do, we bend the world to our will.”

    12 votes
    1. [11]
      nothis
      Link Parent
      Newell: Jesus. I just don't get that obsession with VR. We're still talking tiny screens in front of your eyes, right? If we were about 20 years further, having properly solved direct brain input...

      Newell:

      "The real world will seem flat, colorless, blurry compared to the experiences you'll be able to create in people's brains.”

      Jesus. I just don't get that obsession with VR. We're still talking tiny screens in front of your eyes, right? If we were about 20 years further, having properly solved direct brain input and whatnot, okay. These are literal "The Matrix" scenarios, then. At one point, we probably wouldn't even need screens, there's got to be better ways to inject that shit right into your brain.

      But we're still in the tiny-screens + motion controls phase! Running forward in a straight line is an unsolved problem in VR. You can increase the resolution by a factor of 50 and eliminate all input lag and we'd still have the core problems with interaction relying on movement in the physical world. It's been 5 years since this new VR trend started (and 30 years since the original VR-craze of the early 90s) and I don't feel like progress suggests we'll overcome the fundamental limitations of VR within the next decade.

      All I hear when I see 90s game developers drool over VR is desperate clinging to hardware technology to solve a design/creativity dip in AAA gaming. That worked in the 90s, but then the innovations produced instant and obvious results (CD Roms increasing storage space by a factor of 500, consumer internet allowing online play, 3D graphics cards bringing fully textured 3D worlds to the masses, etc). VR's contribution, over like 30 years, so far amounts to "here's an FPS where you can pew-pew-pew with your hands!". That's why I don't care when I see Zuckerberg getting creepy over VR's potential. Compared to so many other kinds of tech, it just isn't moving.

      13 votes
      1. [9]
        Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        As someone who works in XR, I'll disagree. It's definitely moving. There are a lot of very large companies pouring a lot of money into XR. Not to mention all the smaller companies trying to...

        Compared to so many other kinds of tech, it just isn't moving.

        As someone who works in XR, I'll disagree. It's definitely moving. There are a lot of very large companies pouring a lot of money into XR. Not to mention all the smaller companies trying to leverage the WFH surge to promote the value of their various virtual work/meet/play platforms.

        I think we should take the prognostications of all the tech celebrities with a large grain of salt. At the same time, the sheer number of things being tried in the XR space makes me believe that someone will eventually (probably soon, next 5-10yrs) come up with the XR equivalent of what an iPhone was. (I just pray it's not Facebook)

        13 votes
        1. [8]
          nothis
          Link Parent
          If we're talking XR, I actually kinda sorta believe in AR/MX applications in a professional/productivity environment. I'm kinda sold on the idea of having virtual screens. I think VR,...

          If we're talking XR, I actually kinda sorta believe in AR/MX applications in a professional/productivity environment. I'm kinda sold on the idea of having virtual screens.

          I think VR, specifically, is in a rather weird overlap of compromises where you're supposed to "forget" your surroundings but... it's still there and in terms of motion/barriers/etc, it can clash profoundly with your virtual experience. That's motion sickness but also simple things like needing to punch with your actual hand in order to punch in the virtual world, which is kinda incompatible with real world living spaces (chairs, vases, walls, people, inability to do actual kung fu...). Again, work environments where this is taken care of with expensive setups/space are a more sensible use case, but this is still sold as a casual home entertainment/social technology and I just don't see it.

          It's been over five years, now (or, again, 30 years if we count the early 90s VR craze). Like... there's been so many chances to produce a "killer app" of sorts and it just doesn't come. Even theoretically, if it's not just "feel", what concept would possibly push VR entertainment into the mainstream? Even ignoring gaming, in the social/work space, what is Facebook's endgame, here? What advantage does it have over, say, a Zoom call? Or Slack?

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            lonjil
            Link Parent
            VR is actually much bigger in professional and commercial environments than in gaming right now. I'm currently studying VR development, all of my teachers are VR professionals, and looking at all...

            VR is actually much bigger in professional and commercial environments than in gaming right now. I'm currently studying VR development, all of my teachers are VR professionals, and looking at all the companies currently seeking VR devs it's not even a competition, like 3 game studios vs several dozen other companies.
            Everything from weapon system demos to experimental PTSD treatment to training simulators for train companies. Just an enormous variety of applications that big companies are contracting VR development companies to produce.

            5 votes
            1. nukeman
              Link Parent
              The site I work at has begun to use VR to train operators and familiarize others on new processes and equipment when it is installed in radiological or classified areas. And we’re behind the times...

              The site I work at has begun to use VR to train operators and familiarize others on new processes and equipment when it is installed in radiological or classified areas. And we’re behind the times on everything!

              5 votes
            2. frostycakes
              Link Parent
              Yup, even my grocery store has some VR training modules for new employees now-- I think it replaced the in-person "(department) camp" they used to do for brand new people pre-COVID. And grocery is...

              Yup, even my grocery store has some VR training modules for new employees now-- I think it replaced the in-person "(department) camp" they used to do for brand new people pre-COVID. And grocery is slow to adopt new tech even by retail standards, so if we're doing this now, I'd be shocked if it wasn't much more widespread.

              4 votes
          2. [4]
            tesseractcat
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            There are some really fun VR games, and I believe there's a huge amount of potential in that space. I think you're underestimating how recently VR has become viable for consumers (even the...

            There are some really fun VR games, and I believe there's a huge amount of potential in that space. I think you're underestimating how recently VR has become viable for consumers (even the relatively 'simple' display in front of eyes tech). And the cheapest entry points in VR, standalone headsets, are running off of mobile hardware which limits what can be developed substantially.

            Developing for VR is a new 'frontier' that hasn't been fully explored, so we shouldn't be judging it's potential on what a few indie devs (and valve) have created for a tiny niche audience.

            I think there's a lot of potential for VR to grow for social applications, especially once we start seeing headsets that have built in face tracking.

            EDIT: Also, consider that any "killer app" for the general public most likely wouldn't be a game, and any killer social app would first need a somewhat large established base of VR users, and headsets with the tech to support high quality social interaction (like face tracking).

            1 vote
            1. [3]
              nothis
              Link Parent
              Do I, though? Again, this is decades old tech and even that new wave of VR is 8 years old by now (the Oculus Kickstarter that jump-started the current hype was 2012). In tech terms, that's...

              you're underestimating how recently VR has become viable for consumers

              Do I, though? Again, this is decades old tech and even that new wave of VR is 8 years old by now (the Oculus Kickstarter that jump-started the current hype was 2012). In tech terms, that's ancient. Frickin' self-driving cars made more progress in that time than VR. Facebook grew from an idea in Zuckerberg's bedroom to buying Oculus for $2 billion in 8 years.

              Basically, though, my skepticism comes from how VR's current limitations being treated as a hardware/software problem (which tends to fix itself over time) instead of a conceptual one. I think there's deep, conceptual problems with VR. I don't think there's many relevant problems VR is an answer to. I also think it's cool tech. It's just confusing to me to see it treated as some kind of game changer. They are essentially describing holodeck/Matrix like experiences but apply them to putting little screens in front of your eyes. I'm sorry, but how on earth is any of that gonna happen with VR?

              3 votes
              1. Omnicrola
                Link Parent
                The beginnings of self driving car tech have been around since about 1977. It looks very different now than it did then of course, it took awhile to figure out what worked and what didn't, and to...

                The beginnings of self driving car tech have been around since about 1977. It looks very different now than it did then of course, it took awhile to figure out what worked and what didn't, and to try out (or develop) new technologies.

                Which is why I think VR has yet to really find it's niche. All of the speculation about creating holodecks etc are fun, but that's not necessarily where it's going to end up. Cell phones where around since the 80s until complementary tech and infrastructure grew to the point where the iPhone was possible.

                I think all your criticisms of VR are valid, my point is that there are a lot of different directions to try, and there are probably some we can't even imagine yet because other tech or infrastructure isn't there yet.

                7 votes
              2. mundane_and_naive
                Link Parent
                Telesurgery seems like something that would benefit greatly I think. The difference between 2D and 3D viewing experience may not matter much for everyday usage but delicate procedures involving a...

                I don't think there's many relevant problems VR is an answer to.

                Telesurgery seems like something that would benefit greatly I think. The difference between 2D and 3D viewing experience may not matter much for everyday usage but delicate procedures involving a 3D workspace is something VR can be uniquely suitable. As to your criticism of the tech being decades old and has yet to find its application, one of the major limitation with telesurgery is latency, which recent tech like 5G might be able to handle and so I wouldn't be surprised if we would start seeing more widespread applications of VR soon.

                2 votes
      2. moocow1452
        Link Parent
        The tech mongols seem to be convinced that the first iteration of "full-dive" VR seems to be on the horizon, and assuming they're right, the question of claiming we're all equal if we have our...

        The tech mongols seem to be convinced that the first iteration of "full-dive" VR seems to be on the horizon, and assuming they're right, the question of claiming we're all equal if we have our subsided headset and can spend as much time in a waking dream as we do on our phones is an interesting question.

        3 votes
  3. [9]
    monarda
    Link
    I hope that by the time I end up in a nursing home that VR will have gone far enough that I can sit in my recliner or bed and travel the world or the universe if I wish to do so.

    I hope that by the time I end up in a nursing home that VR will have gone far enough that I can sit in my recliner or bed and travel the world or the universe if I wish to do so.

    6 votes
    1. cfabbro
      Link Parent
      Ditto, but I'm hoping more for a San Junipero like system by the time I get old enough to need a nursing home.

      Ditto, but I'm hoping more for a San Junipero like system by the time I get old enough to need a nursing home.

      6 votes
    2. [7]
      skybrian
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      This seems a bit out of touch with what people in nursing homes are like and how people change as they get older. Everything needs to be made simpler to use or it won’t be used. People who used...

      This seems a bit out of touch with what people in nursing homes are like and how people change as they get older. Everything needs to be made simpler to use or it won’t be used. People who used phones all their lives can’t dial a phone number anymore. Touch screens are likely too difficult. I find it hard to imagine VR gear being made that simple to wear.

      I think easy-to-use video chat could be a huge win and it’s really unfortunate that it wasn’t available for most during the pandemic. But the UI needs to be really simple, like pressing a button to answer the phone. Even that will likely need a bit of practice. (Everything new does.) Maybe having separate buttons for calling their closest friends and relatives would work.

      This is all assuming medical treatments for aging don’t get better though. I think there is a good chance that they will, and there will be fewer people in nursing homes.

      5 votes
      1. [6]
        hairypotter
        Link Parent
        This is bang on. I recently volunteered trying to teach a senior how to use an iPad. It was so difficult, especially doing it over the phone. First session took 45 minutes to find the home button...

        This is bang on. I recently volunteered trying to teach a senior how to use an iPad. It was so difficult, especially doing it over the phone. First session took 45 minutes to find the home button and press it twice to get to the home screen. Keyboard way too finicky. Hard to hold or move the screen without accidentally brushing it with your thumb. Unclear what's a button and what's just text. Icons too small and close to each other.

        It's enough to make me want to make a unifying app interfacing with other services where everything is just simple, large, text and buttons. Reader-mode everything. Confirmation modals take up the whole screen. Font size min 24px. Only like 5 things max to look at per page.

        5 votes
        1. [5]
          cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          The majority of seniors currently in homes grew up before the advent of personal computers and even most modern electronics though. Whereas those of us Gen-X and younger have not only grown up...

          The majority of seniors currently in homes grew up before the advent of personal computers and even most modern electronics though. Whereas those of us Gen-X and younger have not only grown up with them, but use them pretty much daily, and thus have a better general understanding of how to set them up and operate them. So I don't think it likely you will see nearly the same level of technological ineptitude in seniors' homes in 40 years that you see now, despite your anecdote and @skybrian's concerns about failing faculties.

          4 votes
          1. [4]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            I don't imagine quite the same issues around touchscreens for those of us who have plenty of practice, but possibly issues using them in any fluent way (with gestures and so on) and recovering...

            I don't imagine quite the same issues around touchscreens for those of us who have plenty of practice, but possibly issues using them in any fluent way (with gestures and so on) and recovering from mistakes. Particularly if the user interfaces keep changing as rapidly as they have already. (New OS updates, new gestures, new apps, and so on.)

            This is why I talked about dialing a phone. When people who used a phone for much of their lives can no longer do it, without any real interface change at all, that should give you pause.

            People who are still pretty fluent typically aren't in a nursing home yet.

            5 votes
            1. [3]
              cfabbro
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              There will no doubt be some degradation of our technical skills and knowledge as we get significantly older, but I don't think it'll be nearly as bad as you're suggesting. I have worked at several...

              There will no doubt be some degradation of our technical skills and knowledge as we get significantly older, but I don't think it'll be nearly as bad as you're suggesting. I have worked at several retirement/nursing homes and long-term care facilities here in Ontario over the years (first doing landscaping in my own youth, and more recently doing IT), and you would probably be surprised how cogent and capable a lot of the seniors in them still are. It's the end-of-life care facilities (which I have also worked at) where things sadly tend to go more drastically downhill. And in those places, I would agree with you that it's unlikely we will see much modern technology in regular use by the residents there. Although the last end-of-life facility I worked at did have a Wii, which many of the seniors enjoyed and regularly played with, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

              4 votes
              1. [2]
                skybrian
                Link Parent
                It might be that my limited experiences with relatives are an outlier.

                It might be that my limited experiences with relatives are an outlier.

                3 votes
                1. cfabbro
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  Possibly. But on my side, it might also be that my experiences feature a bit of selection bias too, since I rarely interacted with seniors at those facilities who weren't willing or able to...

                  Possibly. But on my side, it might also be that my experiences feature a bit of selection bias too, since I rarely interacted with seniors at those facilities who weren't willing or able to socialize in the common areas. So the truth may lie somewhere in between. In any case, here's to hoping we can all still have the occasional bit of fun with technology when we finally get to that age. :)

                  4 votes