PARIS — Will reality become a rare commodity?
The digital revolution has given humans the greatest power — that of creating and manipulating reality. We make machines and algorithms that can imitate our world so well that they manage to deceive our brains. For example, Applied VR, a U.S. startup, offers a therapy based on virtual reality as an alternative to tranquilizers. The startup's work is similar to that of Miguel Nicolelis, a doctor from North Carolina who managed to make his paraplegic patients recover sensations and regain partial control of their limbs by immersing them into virtual worlds.
We are just at the beginning of a major revolution. Growth prospects of this virtual future are underestimated, just like the Internet was in the 1990s. Virtual reality devices will soon transform how we organize work. Why would we bother going to a specific place when it can come to you in a matter of seconds? Business trips will be redesigned and making purchases inside physical stores will be reinvented. New forms of intimate relationships will emerge. One can already find a virtual girlfriend on AliceX, a virtual reality site for adults.
In the virtual world we would live in, what would our homes, clothes and holidays look like? First, we would have so many personalized choices. And above all, this virtual world would be so much cheaper because nothing is made of physical material. The experience of reality will obviously continue but it would become rare.
Since digital technology is pervasive, reality would become something like a luxury good. If you think this is an exaggeration, just observe the addictive power of technology. Look at the hordes of Pokémon Go players in their quest for virtual characters. Business magnate Elon Musk said in June that he was convinced that humans had a one in a billion chance of not living in a simulation. Maybe he was just referring to what our lives will be like in about 15 years?