Way back in the 50’s there was something called Cinerama. Three huge synchronized screens along with an amazingly powerful surround sound system. A whole theater on Hollywood Boulevard totally was devoted to this new immersive technology.
The first scene was a roller coaster. So real that people actually got sick. I remember hanging onto my seat as the car went over a peak.
Fast forward to just a few years from now. Headsets with brilliant arrays that refresh instantly. Audio included, surround sound to perfection. Now add haptic gloves, even a haptic body suit. Makes your entire body part of the simulation. Little pressure pushers all over you body, maybe a fan or two, temperature controlled elements to simulate the climate. So real that you can hardly tell the difference. So real that it is better than true reality. Much more enjoyable. All the difficulties either removed or totally under your control.
This is a major force, rapidly coming our way. The technology is almost there, just a few years away. A little too much lag in the visual display sometimes makes the user nauseous. Haptic gloves and body suits are still a little crude. But give the scientists, engineers and technicians a few more years and Total Immersion Artificial Reality will be available on Amazon. My advice is to go all the way and buy the top of the line Strato-Reality even if does cost $30,000.
The breakthrough in Artificial Reality will come about through super-fast and super-powerful computers. Most computers today have two separate parts; the processor and the memory. These are multi-purpose computers, capable of many tasks. The processors have gotten so fast that they have outstripped the ability to transfer data back and forth to the memory. So we are now developing single purpose computers built specifically for a unique task. The processors and memory are on the same chip. Lag is essentially eliminated. These computers, when designed for Artificial Reality, will bring “an alternate world of your choice” to the multitudes.
PlayStation already has a really good program using Optical Rift, a type of virtual reality headset.
So this major force is rapidly coming our way. Propelled by the inevitable development of better and better technology, along with the seductive pleasure in owning and using it.
The Next Wave
There is another powerful wave coming, due to the same steadily increasing computer power and associated technology. Some people are concerned that computers will take away jobs. Other people offer soothing counter-predictions that computer will simply create more jobs as they require humans to design them and work with them. Unfortunately this is a transparent lie. When IBM designed Big Blue to play chess and beat Kasparov, a world master they knew what was in the device. It was a giant algorithm able to look up a myriad of past chess games which used their combined strategies to defeat Kasparov. Very complex but still understandable.
Ask the computer scientists at Google what’s in the Alpha-Go computer program that routed Ke Jie, the world Go champion. They will not be able to answer because they don’t know. Alpha-Go continuously plays Go against itself, developing methods and strategies all on its own. Some of its opening rules go against the accumulated Go wisdom of the ages and are wildly successful. Does this seem like the kind of technology that will require increasing human intervention?
It is extremely likely that self-learning computers will eventually put a lot of us out of work. It will take a while. Highly trained computer scientists will be around for a long time. But not as many. The monsters they are creating will soon take over the dog work, then the next level up, and finally supervision of the whole mish-mash. Even the service industries, like nursing and pet care and house cleaning will eventually suffer. The appropriate robots are under development as you read this. Which will leave a vast bunch of humans without anything to productive to do.
Remember my advice to get the top of the line Immersive Artificial Reality Console. It will come with an artificial companion custom designed to you taste.
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