Monday, 16 November 2015

The future for virtual reality: part five

Star Trek-inspired image of a holodeck
graphic: Jin Zan
While we continue to move toward the experience of being in a Star Trek holodeck, creating one that is the same as is shown by the Star Trek franchise would be impossible no matter how far into the future we look. The only exception would be if we can find another universe where the laws of physics, as we know them, do not exist. Star Trek is more accurately science fantasy than science fiction and we should really question its predictive value when we see that the original series could not even imagine that hand-held devices would soon become very slim and that their screens would no longer resemble something seen on an early DOS computer. Literature and even radio can succeed in creating a more believable future because they utilize our imagination to supply the visuals, and our imagination keeps to what we think to be realistic, even if  we experience the work a very long time after it was created.

Star Trek's original series was somewhat dated, even in its own time: I remember some of those hairstyles in the late fifties and early sixties. But it was aimed at an audience who still found them acceptable. Some space-opera productions have done a better job:Joss Wheadon's Firefly envisioned a future where even the English vernacular had changed and was interspersed with Chinese words.It did not last as long as its almost contemporarily created Star Trek Enterprise which, today, I find far more dated than Firefly.

Some visions of the future of virtual reality which cite Star Trek have their feet on the ground, while others are just involved in flights of fantasy. Business and politics, both, are not about any reality: they are aimed at the mediocrity of popular belief. The medium is the the message.

Current developers of virtual reality devices such as Oculus have to balance the desires of the public with technology that is either currently available, or which can be very shortly realized. It does no good to fantasize about two hundred years into the future unless the product, itself, is fantasy. Human space travel for longer distances, itself, might be just such a fantasy.

This series will wrap up tomorrow unless I have more ideas for it later today. You see, I have hard time predicting the future even for the following day, and that is just the way I like it.

John's Coydog Community page

No comments:

Post a Comment