This week’s SCIOPS is a guest post. Correspondent XC8374JF8490, aka “Rivet,” has some interesting thoughts on the future of virtual reality, and was kind enough to write them down for the newsletter. Regular programming will return next week. Without further ado…
irtual Reality is a thing.
Since the mid 90’s it’s been pretending it’s a thing
you could slap on some goggles and look around at some crude polygons and attempt to interface with them using a crude interface. Now, it’s actually a thing with
that can help us collectively usher future generations into a world that they want to live in by prototyping the stories we want to live.
Recently, I was struck by something I stumbled across while surfing through the audio-waves
he idea of the ethereal media-space. I found myself listening to a man
(who I am assured sounds like Jaron Lanier )
over the radio
the atrocity of
, with assault-style weapons,
in virtual-space and
the beauty of
bigotry through experiential
, simplified, was that in virtual-space, we get to transcend the third and second person
. We go straight to the first person
pretty much right through the fourth wall and into the body
and the mind
. This allows for an empathetic value that I can’t draw parallels to from elsewhere
in literature or the media
gave an example that struck me:
Imagine. You’re a white person.
For many of you, readers, this will be easy to imagine.
You put on a VR set, and you’re dropped into a not-too unfamiliar world. You look around, and there are trees and city streets. There are folk around you wearing their Sunday best. Folk in this simulation aren’t quite acting right. You can’t quite suss it out. It’s not until you look down at your virtual
that you realize that you have dark, black skin
over your callous and well-worked hands
. Imagine the first time your white ass gets called “Nigger”
– hard R and all –
in an open crowd
of your once-peers
I won’t bore you with gnarly details of where simulation can go. It’s not GTA. You don’t have infinite lives.
In VR, it’s not a character written onto the pages. You can side with
racist culture of a book, pointing and laughing to your friends
, downloading and spreading the memetic-virus the book may have been challenging
. In VR, if you don’t like the simulation you’re in you can lash out against it, from within
the point of view you’re confined
to. Or, you can take it off because you’re
done with it.
With VR, we don’t show folk how to do things. We have them play them out. We have them build muscle
memory. We train folk. Repetition of menial tasks in a sterile environment
rehearsing the hardest part of a song
Video games have been simulating combat for quite some time. It’s left mouse click to fire, R for reload. I learned how to operate a handgun from watching the animations on Counter Strike a few thousand times. When one of those weapons was put in front of me, I figure
out how to
within a minute
I hadn’t practiced the motions of loading, aiming and firing. I never had to rely on my own muscle memory to reload quickly while under fire. I pressed R, and a simulated
expert went through the rote action deftly. In a real combat situation I would die
, Glock in hand
re going to start seeing a lot of guns in VR,
They’re there already with plans for more.
If you leave your 7-year-old in a simulation to practice, they will. So, my thinking is
let’s do th
. It’s already going to happen.
Let’s do this.
I don’t want to get in its way.
It won’t do much to stop VR to hide in the woods and act like a lud
ite. Trust me. I tried that.
What I do want is to foster a future I believe in
one where we aren’t simply well-practiced, tactically-trained gun-fanatics.
You ever do hard sci-fi?
Hang with me here.
not just laser guns going “pew pew” because the author said so? You ever do the sci-fi where someone knew the unknowns and made a world where those known unknowns where already know? You ever do the sci-fi where culture and economics are at a place where they can happily mass produce technology based on those now-known, known-unknowns?
I’m talking about sci-fi with space suits. You ever use one of those
? Yeah. Me neither. If you put one in my hands and pointed me at an airlock, I would get
fast. This is where VR gets even cooler for me. Instead of guns in war zones, I want the simulations where folk get
to level-up and
nd up with the
memory of putting on a device that will allow them to walk into an oxygen-deprived and low-pressure wasteland
build a solar array
, repair a communications relay, and walk their
I want kids that already know how to use specialt
tools to work on systems that don’t exist
yet. I want to put the non-existent hyper-spanners into kids’ hands so they can fix plasma-conduit on the spaceship that they built with their friends
by hand. I want a VR
where folk can redesign those non-existent tools to work optimally in a zero-g environment.
Tired of falling off your spaceship in a seemingly-endless void while you’re doing repairs? Let’s add electro-magnets to our feet. Sick of space junk sticking to your magnets? Wire a switch to your wrist-top interface. Can’t be bothered to stop welding so you can adjust your magnets? Change the system to actuate a relay with a quick voice command.
Don’t want to play space? Let’s practice building walls that keep zombies out of the garden we’ve been planting
— we’ve only got three bullets and they won’t fight the hoard
. Let’s learn to sea-stead
— see what happens when we botch the knot
. Let’s see what systems will get us through nuclear winter the longest
— scored by who lives the kushest life and
take the most bio-diversity with us. Let’s build a cabin in the woods by felling our own trees and eat from our own forage without dropping a 200-foot Doug Fir on ourselves, eating the wrong mushroom, or dying of dysentery.
The point that VR offers a narrative that speaks to the core. We have a tool that will train the kids who are in line to inherit the Earth (and beyond). The Empire is building i
will bring an all-encompassing, blinding whiteness with it that will wash out
of skill and resilience and art and color
into our future generations
to operate AR-15s and drone fighters and be happy to be rewarded with points to spend on more interesting guns and armor.
We have a tool of extreme literary value. We need to tell the stories that will make a vibrant future. We have a tool that will be played with and
drill skills into
children. We need to
stories that are more interesting than “killing brown people in far away lands”. We are presented with an opportunity to produce the most evocative ar
t — that can arm us with the tools to better arm ourselves.
the most powerful media known so far
not be fed to us by a subsidiary of
Hegemony from Ender’s Game.
Correction from last week’s letter: I linked to an adblocker called Ublock, but as correspondent VNSOF348489 pointed out, this is a fork from the much better adblocker called Ublock Origin. I use Origin myself – this was just a case of lazy linking. Get Ublock Origin for your preferred browser here.
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