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Who needs real hands anyway?
Who needs real hands anyway?
Michel Lévy-Provençal

-Essay-

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?

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Ideas

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

American and Southwest Airlines have been refusing to allow Cubans on board flights if they've been blacklisted by the government in Havana.

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

Boarding a plane in Camaguey, Cuba

Santiago Villa

On Sunday, American Airlines refused to let Cuban writer Carlos Manuel Álvarez board a Miami flight bound for Havana. It was at least the third time this year that a U.S. airline refused to let Cubans on board to return to their homeland after Havana circulated a government "blacklist" of critics of the regime. Clearly undemocratic and possibly illegal under U.S. law, the airlines want to make sure to cash in on a lucrative travel route, writes Colombian journalist Santiago Villa:

-OpEd-

Imagine for a moment that you left your home country years ago because you couldn't properly pursue your chosen career there. It wasn't easy, of course: Your profession is not just singularly demanding, but even at the top of the game you might not be assured a stable or sufficient income, and you've had to take on second jobs, working in bars and restaurants.

This chosen vocation is that of a writer or journalist, or perhaps an artist, which has kept you tied to your homeland, often the subject of your work, even if you don't live there anymore.

Since leaving, you've been back home several times, though not so much for work. Because if you did, you would be followed in cars and receive phone calls to let you know you are being watched.

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