It’s coming. Virtual reality (VR) is coming. This is not ’80s horror movie VR or sci-fi hexagonal effects VR.
Sex applications will probably lead the way. Playboy and HBO’s Real Sex discussed those in the early ’90s, but mainstream outlets are discussing it now. Yes, that has been proclaimed for decades, but real feeling and looking VR is close, if not already here. Have you thought through all of the possibilities yet? What was once a thought experiment or fantasy post from the Moldbug archives is now much closer to reality.
Immersive VR porn. Yes, that will be available, and if you went to SXSW, maybe you saw Brazzers’ VR porn display. Some early reviews are interesting in terms of how real it already feels. There are some gifs going around of Oculus Rift sets hooked up with fleshlights, so we’re getting or sinking there. This will change things. Some men will drop out of the mating market, and others might use it for their porn consumption since roughly all young men watch at least some amount of porn.
Despite our cultural obsession with it, forget sex. How many services or activities are going to be swept away by decent VR? Kids want a 4 wheeler but you’re worried about death and injuries? Just buy the 4 wheeler VR module! Want to go hiking? Want to climb a mountain? Which one? The modules will be there. Any experience that they can set the cameras up for will become adaptable for VR. Think of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Rant, and the experience modules that people port. There will still be purists who engage in the real activities, but the marginal person or casual consumer will disappear for a service into VR. Does it hurt amusement parks? Does tourism die entirely? Who knows how deep that will go with any additional haptic capabilities.
“Oh but it won’t compare to the exact feeling, it won’t be perfect.“
It does not need to be perfect. It needs to be a very reasonable facsimile of the experience or reality. The uncanny valley may exist, but with a video of an unknown experience, how much do you need to sell people on something? First adopters will rave about it even if it is not perfect–just for the status of being a user. A Narrative will be built that it is amazing and feels so real. “True VR is finally here” the headlines will blare. People will pile on as the craft gets refined, pouring billions of dollars into the market. How much of one’s day will people allocate to the goggles? It will grow as the technology improves.
This will become an industry, and who knows how automated it can get, but there might have to be actors, historians to match proper period pieces, graphic designers, IT jobs, and other bits related to content creation. Environmentalists will claim it is better for the environment compared to real life people trampling on the grass. It will not replace the industries destroyed, but the out of work will have VR for spending their time.
We have simply discussed fun, but it will not stop there. This is world-building. Not just for groups, but for the individual. Who will want to be a small fish in a big pond of reality when they can become King Fish? The entire American marketing and advertising industry is going to pitch everyone on the joys and freedom of VR. Advertising creates imaginary needs all of the time.
Will we need therapy anymore? Whether simple facing fears (aversion therapy) or working through trauma, modules could be programmed to help people work through problems. How many therapy modules can they build and allow for interaction? Therapists and academia will not allow their degrees to go unrewarded, so guided therapy modules will exist. Half of going to see a psychiatrist is that modern Americans just want to talk and believe that for forty-five minutes someone, just one person, is actually listening to them. Even without therapy, how depressed will a person be if they can plug on a headset and for hours be the God-Emperor or Queen that they always wanted to be? Combined with a safe ecstasy like drug, VR could entertain the boredom and emptiness away.
VR use could replace the mindless hours of watching television, and we Americans watch hours upon hours of television. You will be granted the ability to craft worlds, so at what point do you escape our world to build whatever you want for your lifetime? On the outside, we have crafted modern humans to become narcissists, who craft a digital self already to fit in with their digital life. We are halfway there already! The average Facebook mom has the perfect kids, the perfect husband, and goes on perfect vacations for all of her social circle to see. Her reality is already divorced from that, but she has crafted a second reality to claim status. VR will make it real, and you can conjure up sycophants, fans and groupies at will.
Can we handle criminals differently? How many cases get plea bargained down? In Indiana, there was a high profile armed home invasion where the ring leader had been sentenced for a previous armed robbery to sixteen years in prison but was released in under three, and another where an eighteen-year-old raped a student in school and will serve four years and be released. What if we could sentence them to VR dorm pods after the initial jail term? Hanging or exile would be better, but our progressive overlords have eliminated that dose of reality. We could stop plea bargaining rape down to criminal confinement by giving two to four years in jail and then several more in VR pod dorms. Like a VR halfway home, this could replace the probation period. Run them through required therapy modules, as well as just keep them off the streets for peak testosterone years.
How will we handle the elderly? Stop and think about what a lot of elderly folks are doing now in the purgatory dorms we send them to. They wait to die as strangers handle them and no one visits. I will cite fiction, as it is a place that has dreamed up things like this, but in Inception, some elderly people would dream nonstop and the dream juice chemist said something along the lines of: who could blame them? They can be another person with amazing abilities, not their frail body in VR. How many bodies that fail still sharp minds? If longing for a visitor, they can conjure one up, if not have a shared VR experience with someone over long distance.
I switched from saying sexbots would win to saying immersive VR would win because the human user would become their perfected self in the VR realm. Don’t just have sex with Grace Kelly 1953 sexbot when you can have sex with Grace Kelly 1953 as the perfect you in the perfect setting. What old person wouldn’t put the headset on and go strolling on the beach again? Forget the elderly, how many of us have loved ones who are handicapped? Will they want to spend a lot of time in VR, and would you blame them? The sales pitch is not just the perfect moment but the perfect you. A better you is the entire basis for our advertising world in mass market consumerism.
All technologies need a user. The sword is only as good as the man who wields it. Think of not just the narcissists, but think of the low attention span, infantilized adults society has molded. People will run to VR. Look at iPhone and tablet use already. Neal Stephenson’s “gargoyles” idea in Snow Crash is already real and we are not even VR-capable like in his fictional Metaverse. Gargoyles, per the book’s slang, were so often in the Metaverse (realm that came after the Internet) that they never moved, like a statue. It was a negative term; a human had given up on existing in meat-space reality to exist in the Metaverse. Snow Crash, Inception… you can piece together a probable outcome for this all.
Watch a person staring at their phone for minutes or even hours again, sifting through all the apps, games, and social media sites, one after the other. They all have a cycle “Check my Facebook, then website A, then website B, then Twitter, oh look an Instagram notification, okay refresh my Facebook“. They are gargoyles already. What is it when you are on Twitter or Facebook, anyway? Isn’t it like having a non-spatial conversation in a club with a stream of news? Your circle in different forums and social media platforms is like the setting for Cheers. These technologies are not like hyped-up telegrams or newsreels; we have crossed a point. Think of the people involved. Americans. We are a fat nation that watches five hours of television a day; people will gladly do this sedentary activity.
We are hurtling towards this with a population prepared to slip right into VR with no reservations. Maybe you thought in its publication year of 2009 that Moldbug’s virtual option was fantasy. As decay settles in and the paper mache box of society melts from dysgenics, will the elite not seek to make this offer? Are you willing to make a bet that the VR option might not even need to be sold to anyone? They will willingly sign up for it. Freedom is an abstract idea. Right now, the average American is free to live and exist in what is increasingly feeling like an open air asylum. Compare that to life in a dorm completely provided food, water, and health services and free to live every fantasy one has wished. The progressive idea of freedom has steadily moved towards big government providing all the tough adult things while people have the freedom of children. It is not a long step towards dorm life with VR
That does not even touch on our poor and dysfunctional. Our poor escape reality with a myriad of drugs. Heroin numbs them from feeling. In interview after interview, addicts discuss how drugs prevented them from feeling sadness, pain, and other negative emotions. Our poor also have amazing access to technology like the Internet via smartphones, and even the FCC is subsidizing it now. How much of a subsidy will be needed to solve the Dire Problem? It might not take much, and be far cheaper than current social welfare when negative externalities of underclass dysfunction are calculated. Would you feel guilty? You won’t, not when they line up around the block for their VR units and pod assignments. Maybe you will, too.