Virtual reality has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past few years. Whether we are talking about the capabilities of VR technology itself, its price, or the VR games we have now available, there is no doubt that virtual reality has been improved. Although the Valve Index is still expensive, there are now many good budget options. Oculus Quest 2 is only priced at $300, which is a very good headset by all technical standards.
However, as with all new technological innovations, there are bumps on the road. For example, although Quest 2 is excellent in terms of cost performance, it needs to be fully integrated with Facebook before it can be used. This raises questions about the ethics of business conduct and all privacy issues that impose users in the social media field. As far as the technology itself is concerned, there are still many problems to be solved, such as the tracking of HP Reverb G2.
Obviously there are some obstacles to overcome. However, perhaps more importantly, there are some questions about the nature of VR technology and VR games, which are often overlooked, but the VR gaming community must discuss these issues. Is VR enough to imitate reality?we should think It arrives? These questions are quite philosophical. Although I have some philosophical certificates as a published PhD researcher, I think it is best to choose the brain of the professor.
James Tartaglia Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Keele University and Expert in Philosophy of Technology. His latest book, Philosophy in the Technological World: Gods and Titans, Fight some more philosophical questions about VR, etc. I asked Tartaglia for some insights on the potential problems that advanced VR might bring.
Can VR games be like real life?
The philosopher Robert Nozick in his book “Anarchy, State and Utopia” published in 1974 made us imagine that scientists have built an “experience machine.” This machine will plug into your brain and “give you any experience you want.” The experience it brings us will feel as if they actually happen, but they won’t. Just like in the matrix.
Can our VR technology reach the experience machine Nozick imagined? I asked Tartaglia.
“In view of the technological development methods that dominate our world,” he said, VR technologies like this “will be produced as soon as possible. We are already on track and the goal is already in sight, so since perfecting VR can make a lot of money, the competition is underway. . After that, we will begin to try to deal with the social problems it causes. I don’t know how long it will take. This is a problem for technicians, but I doubt the popular opinion among some philosophers that we will encounter principled obstacles. , I think this is wishful thinking.”
If our VR technology becomes so good that VR games are indistinguishable from reality, what does it mean? Well, of course, the game world must look and sound very real. This is not a trivial matter, because it is difficult to see how even next-next-next-(etc.)-gen graphics and physics perfectly simulate reality. But maybe it doesn’t have to be exactly the same, maybe it can be so immersive that it makes us feel that we have entered a new reality-a reality that is slightly different from the real.
However, to make it truly immersive, we must also have immersive temperature, movement, balance, touch, etc. The idea of ”putting on headphones and holding two controllers” may not succeed. Perhaps the only option is to insert something into your brain—perhaps one of the brain-computer interfaces that Gabe Newell thinks will one day be all the rage—and let it make you believe that you are somewhere else, just like a dream. (But to be completely immersive, it must make you forget real It is also realistic every time you use it. )
But do we want it? Do we want anything close?
Should VR games be the same as real life?
I asked Tartaglia about Nozick’s experience machine and how it can show us the difference between reality and VR. “Nozick,” Tartaglia said, “want to show that real life is better, because only real life can achieve what we’want’: we want to be things, we want to do things, not just pretend. That It was in 1974, and in my opinion, developments since then have shown that people can really want to work and do things in VR without much effort. Worries about it just pretending to fade with each generation Our sense of reality is changing-from the physical world to experience.”
It is this transformation of our sense of reality—from the physical world to experience—that is the crux of the problem. We seem to be less and less concerned about whether our experience is in reality or in the virtual world. But whether it is real or virtual, if we experience it, is there any real difference?
On this issue, Tartaglia said: “There will be a difference, we just can’t tell it—from the subject’s point of view, it’s indistinguishable. Thinking from the perspective of the physical world, this is a technique; from the perspective of experience Thinking, we are changing our world.”
So, from our point of view, the virtual reality in the experience machine will be indistinguishable from the real reality. But this does not change the fact that it will be different-we just don’t realize it is different.
At the end of his new book, Tartaglia-more than half-jokingly-describes a future “utopia” where people live almost exclusively in virtual reality and look no different from real reality. I asked him the problems that such a future “utopia” might bring.
“The problems are endless,” he said. “You are effectively redesigning the essence of human life. One of the main points I try to express by imagining a VR utopia, so trying to bypass some of the more obvious problems is to Show the seriousness of these problems. One problem is isolation-VR isolates us from other people and closes us in our own small world, where interaction with others is a speculative reality: “This is true Is it the other person doing it? “‘;’Does it matter or not? … Another big issue is privacy, because the virtual world is different from the real world and can be fully monitored-and money and power can be obtained from it.”
In addition to privacy issues, isolation seems to be the most pressing issue for this advanced VR, especially because we may not even realize that we are isolated, thanks to the pressure of the technology itself and the people who developed and sold it trying to convince us otherwise. But if we enter such a virtual reality world, whether we realize it or not, we will actually be isolated. We will lose touch with reality.
Tartaglia also talked about this. In a world full of experience machines, “We will lose contact with other people, which is not good for society or personal mental health. We will also be monitored, and what we learn will be used to predict and manipulate us-free will It’s another traditional philosophical question. VR will give new life. There is also a comprehensive question of survival. People are increasingly abandoning the real world and turning to VR, that is, we will make ourselves vulnerable to those who stay outside. : If the Internet can be shut down, then we have already encountered a lot of trouble-when people mainly live in it, turning off VR will be worse.”
Towards a constructive VR future
Of course, these are the future issues, assuming that society becomes VR-centric and technologically advanced as we imagine. We may wonder why we should pay attention to it here and now. But think about it, how far we have traveled in the past two decades-does this future really seem so far away? Should we wait until we get there before we start thinking about it? The only way to influence such a future is to change its course before it arrives. This may be a problem for the future, but every step we take along the way can push the future in one direction or another.
This is something we should start thinking about now, not later. But is there any way? Tartaglia believes that we should ask our politicians more.
“If the new generation wants power to determine their own future, then they need to ask their politicians to formulate technological development policies.”
So maybe we should not be too pessimistic about the future of VR, because we can take some practical steps to push it in the right direction. I asked Tartaglia if he thinks it is possible for us to guide the development of VR in a constructive, helpful and problem-free way. He thinks there is, but to a certain extent.
“Constructive and helpful, yes; no problems, of course not-but these problems may be worth trying to deal with. I focus on VR in the gods and Titans, because I think it is most likely to dominate our future development Technology, and because in principle, that future may be amazing.”
For VR gamers like you and me, if we want VR to continue to develop in a constructive rather than destructive way, he will give us some suggestions.
“Don’t just buy the latest development projects, because they are new and you are curious. Think about the future direction of VR indicated by the latest new things, form a collective, and collectively resist when your concerns are not resolved. Commitment becomes Part of the responsibility of the basic generation. If you want VR sex, this is what you will get sooner or later; if you want VR torture, even if it is banned, this is what you can get sooner or later; but if you want to create one for humans For a bright future, I don’t think you want any of them, rather than reflection. Try to be more philosophical about what you want.”
If we want to continue along this path of permanent VR development, I think a more philosophical approach to what we want is the smartest suggestion we can take.