In the future …


My first visions of the future came in the late 50’s and 60’s. They were often space / technology oriented; predictions such as flying cars, apartment buildings in the clouds, robot maids, travel to other worlds. The Jetsons and then later Star Trek portrayed such images. No surprise, we were at the beginning of the Space Age.

Most current discussions on the future talk about business / consumer trends and where they lead; changing demographics and the impact on the health-care system; the advances in technology: there will be robots; space exploration will be done by these robots and they will send back data, etc.

Yet all of these are pretty physical perspectives on the future.

What about a future that is completely virtual and computer based, like that depicted in the Matrix. A future where we spend our time in the virtual world which in turn is fed by real-time-data feeds from what ever: weather, stock prices, web cams, space data, telemetry from Mars landings. A virtual world where people are able to live in Mirror Worlds (virtual places that mirror real worlds based on real-time data feeds) or virtual worlds (virtual places based on imaginary places or settings) or some combination of the two. A place where you, as represented by your avatar, can do what your will imagines. Technology Review reported on the current state of the virtual worlds in their recent article Second Earth.

If you doubt whether this will happen, then just take a look at the virtual worlds that exist today, including such places as Second Life, EverQuest and even Google Earth. What is surprising about these places is the degree to which one can become captivated by them. Recognizing that, it is easy to see that people could, if given the opportunity, spend much of their time in the virtual places. It’s not a big leap to imagine a time when we will only leave our virtual cocoon on an exception basis as everything we need will be in the virtual world.

There is a lot of power in virtualizing reality, a lot of potential; experience unconstrained by physical limitation and risk. But we will have to remember that it is virtual so as not to succumb to the Matrix outcome.


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