First of all, I think VR will mostly obsolete our current conception of money. Right now in developed nations, after paying for our daily sustenance, the majority of our income goes towards experiences. What do I mean by ‘experiences’? Going to eat a new food, see a show, travel, etc. We pay money in order to enrich the experience of our existence with novel stimuli. Once we have access to sufficiently life-like VR the costs of such experiences will dramatically plummet, and with it we will have to rethink and restructure our societies and economies.
I think we will eventually adopt a currency based on processing power and time in VR. The transition to this sort of Timecoin will feel pretty easy once we have adapted to crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin.
I think crypto-currencies represent the future of currency, and have already invested significantly in Bitcoin. Thinking about the future of VR I have also decided to invest in Facebook, as I believe Oculus will prove enormous for them. I currently await the arrival of my Oculus development kit.
I think Facebook has at best a limited future as an advertising platform (I can’t help but wish to hasten advertising towards its death) but I think as a provider of virtual reality environments it holds a potentially amazing future. Using some sort of Facetime (too bad Apple took that one, eh Facebook?) to hangout with friends from across the world in what feels like physical proximity seems like an exciting prospect.
But I find that a totally mundane idea for using VR. The future of gaming will explode with possibility. Imagine flying through space with your friends as you explore realms previously accessible only to lucid dreams and psychedelic shamans.
Or Facebook could get really creepy and release something like Facefuck. The implications of VR for porn will prove profound, I think. Many avenues for enterprising people there.
I would want VR tech to exist as open source software. I would find it a huge shame if a single company held a monopoly on VR tech. I can easily imagine that devolving into a dystopia wherein everyone works for The Corporation that can grant them access to their dreams, but for a price. And you can only dream sanctioned dreams that the Oversight Board of Morality deem appropriate. Black markets abound with forbidden VRs to use with hijacked tech. VR creation limited to an elite group of artists that promote The Corporation’s aesthetic of mindlessly materialistic simulations. Millions of souls crushed by a banal existence where they labor by day and night just to gain access to intellectually retarding VRs with titles like: Buffet Bonanza 17: Seafood Edition, Fast, Fast Cars VII, and Big Tit Orgy XI.
Much better to imagine a world with open source VR. Where anyone who can imagine can create aVR. Where we pool together our resources and provide a VR environment that any member of the human family has access to. Where we can ascend to creative godhood in the realms of our creation.
Some people wonder if we will invent anything after VR. I think that assumes that everyone will want to degenerate into pleasure seeking escapism. I believe that a lot of people will still gain the most pleasure from invention and innovation. Those people will probably use VR to create labs where they can create prototypes. If anything, I expect the level of technology to explode after the invention of VR.
I hope that once we have open source virtual reality, humanity’s greatest minds will work together to solve basic problems like energy and food so that the vast majority of humans can dedicate their existences to fulfilling their creative potentials of self-expression.
Of course, as Utopian as everyone living in VR sounds to me, I think we will encounter many difficult issues of governance. For instance, how to share computational power. Different simulations will have different power requirements. Perhaps everyone should get an equal share of power, but have the choice to donate some of theirs to other people. I say this because I imagine that certain scientists might wish to run massive simulations that require a lot of power, and people should have the ability to fund such endeavorers if they wish to.
Some people will wish to play war games. And I have no opposition to that so long as everyone participates willingly.
[BB] One thing I should mention here is that VR does not have the ability to hurt us, which in some respects makes it inferior (or superior, depending on one’s perspective) to real life. As long as being harmed in the digital world is limited to emotional harm, VR will always have a rather large diff in comparison to the physical world.