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The Effects Of Virtual Reality On Society and Culture

KamarKamar Registered User regular
edited June 2010 in Debate and/or Discourse
This is something that's always rolling around in the back of my mind, and I thought it'd be fun to discuss.

The title really says it all; what effects would/will the presence of fully immersive virtual reality have on how we live our lives? I'm just going to toss out my thoughts on the subject to start things off.

I can't imagine virtual reality not completely changing every aspect of society. Suddenly, the demand for a lot of luxury goods and 'experiences' is drastically reduced; how many people are going to bother with skydiving in real life when they can experience it in VR safely and with minimal costs(maybe for free, but we'll discuss that in a second)? Sure, there will still be a market for most things, but it will be a fraction of what it once was.

Which raises questions about the economy of VR; I imagine a mixture of 'free' things and things you have to pay to experience -- no doubt companies will quickly begin copyrighting experiences, textures, etc; which sounds completely horrible but admittedly someone has to code them.

Beyond that, consider the effects on culture; what remains taboo in a culture in which nothing has to be inherently harmful? Of course that will be a fun fight; if you think the fight over, say, cartoon child porn is a stupid one, wait until the fight over simulated everything you can think of. A clash between 'now pedophiles/zoophiles/necrophiles don't have to be horrible people OR live repressed lives' and 'think of the children' to end all such arguments.


The last thing I've considered here is what the effect will be on the public 'outside'. Will VR hasten our decent into fattydom? VR means appearance doesn't matter much, and people are pretty terrible at doing things solely for health reasons.

Of course it may be moot; could be we'll be eating our protein and exercise pills and obesity will be a cured disease by the time VR rolls around.


So what do you think, D&D?

Kamar on
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Posts

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Videogames depict a virtual reality, right?

    Or are you thinking of those VR parlors from the movie Minority Report?
    "I wanna kill my boss!"

    Angryspider2_zps663851d1.jpg
  • KamarKamar Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Videogames depict a virtual reality, right?

    Or are you thinking of those VR parlors from the movie Minority Report?
    "I wanna kill my boss!"

    I said 'fully immersive' in like the second sentence.

  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Is this "I am a biological organism somehow interracting with a virtual world via gloves, headbands, etc." or is this "I am a brain in a vat"?

  • KamarKamar Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Does it matter? Implicitly, by talking about concern for people's physical health, I meant the first...but really it's irrelevant to the more interesting issues.

  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Kamar wrote: »
    Does it matter? Implicitly, by talking about concern for people's physical health, I meant the first...but really it's irrelevant to the more interesting issues.

    Well, if people are still dependent upon the function of their biological bodies that would produce different results than "brain in vat".

  • UncleSporkyUncleSporky Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Kamar wrote: »
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Videogames depict a virtual reality, right?

    Or are you thinking of those VR parlors from the movie Minority Report?
    "I wanna kill my boss!"

    I said 'fully immersive' in like the second sentence.

    That wasn't specific enough. Some people would say they're already fully immersed in current gen consoles.

    3DS Friend Code: 0989 - 1731 - 9504
    Nintendo Network ID: unclesporky
  • KamarKamar Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I can only imagine that the two will eventually exist side-by-side in some form. I kind of focused on the concept of the first kind as I imagine that's what will come first.

    (I also didn't want to get bogged down in philosophy about whether putting your brain in a vat/mind in a computer counts as becoming immortal or dying.)

  • KamarKamar Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    For absolute clarity, then:
    Wikipedia wrote:
    Immersive virtual reality is a hypothetical future technology that exists today as virtual reality art projects, for the most part. [6] It consists of immersion in an artificial environment where the user feels just as immersed as they usually feel in consensus reality.

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Kamar wrote: »
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Videogames depict a virtual reality, right?

    Or are you thinking of those VR parlors from the movie Minority Report?
    "I wanna kill my boss!"

    I said 'fully immersive' in like the second sentence.

    With a good pair of headphones, I become completely immersed playing Modern Warfare 2. :P

    Really, though, what's that law that says people reject artificial things made to look strikingly real? Perverts might ignore VR altogether and continue using their dirty imaginations to write erotic fan-fictions.

    Angryspider2_zps663851d1.jpg
  • King MultitasKing Multitas __BANNED USERS
    edited June 2010
    Virtual Reality 24/7 will make people go crazy.

    They will no longer function as people, they will simply be digital animals, grazing in digital fields.

  • Last SonLast Son Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Kamar wrote: »
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Videogames depict a virtual reality, right?

    Or are you thinking of those VR parlors from the movie Minority Report?
    "I wanna kill my boss!"

    I said 'fully immersive' in like the second sentence.

    With a good pair of headphones, I become completely immersed playing Modern Warfare 2. :P

    Really, though, what's that law that says people reject artificial things made to look strikingly real? Perverts might ignore VR altogether and continue using their dirty imaginations to write erotic fan-fictions.

    You mean the Uncanny Valley? That applies only to things that look almost, but not quite, realistic.

    steam_sig.png
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Let's say it turns possible sometime in the next ten years or so.

    Industrially: paperless office fo' realz. Drop in commuting, price of cars, and price of oil. Likely corresponding skyrocket in demand for cobalt, copper, and other substances associated with electronics and price of electricity.

    Education correspondingly shifts to paperless, goes international. Price changes indeterminate since demand is likely to rise whilst cost of production falls.

    Demand for 'authentic' non-VR-able experiences rises; music and movies fall appropriately.

    Physical beauty becomes more valuable in non-VR-able service industries. In VR-able industries, male and race wage premiums disappear, but nearly every VR lawyer you meet appears to be white and male and every secretary non-black and female.

    Health: Enforced lack of snacking may help on the obesity issue. Cost of healthcare will however continue to increase due to the Baumol effect.

    Cultural: English and Mandarin become more pervasive; accents may merge. Whose accent takes supremacy depends whose region unrolls fibre optic or other low-latency connections first, especially over the ocean.

    Separation between sex and marriage becomes even larger.

    Steam
    shryke wrote: »
    Talking to ronya is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, that has been shit out and then eaten again by a bulldog.
  • Raiden333Raiden333 Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I for one know that if we had VR technology that was indistinguishable to the senses from the real world, I imagine the only time I'd spend out of it would be taking care of basic biological needs and working.

    camo_sig2.png
  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Virtual Reality 24/7 will make people go crazy.

    The Matrix has you.

    Further flexing my nerd muscles, I remembered there was an episode of Batman Beyond that centered on VR addiction called 'Hooked Up'. What I remember most from that one was all the addicts created scenarios where they were surrounded by people who loved them. They could create anything but instead they wanted a perfect family or pretended to be famous.

    A lonely teen creating a VR family seems more 'dangerous' than an adult pedo creating a VR child victim.

    Angryspider2_zps663851d1.jpg
  • Raiden333Raiden333 Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Virtual Reality 24/7 will make people go crazy.

    The Matrix has you.

    Further flexing my nerd muscles, I remembered there was an episode of Batman Beyond that centered on VR addiction called 'Hooked Up'. What I remember most from that one was all the addicts created scenarios where they were surrounded by people who loved them. They could create anything but instead they wanted a perfect family or pretended to be famous.

    A lonely teen creating a VR family seems more 'dangerous' than an adult pedo creating a VR child victim.

    but that's what I wanted to use it for. :(

    Edit: Friends and family, not rape.

    camo_sig2.png
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Last Son wrote: »
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Kamar wrote: »
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Videogames depict a virtual reality, right?

    Or are you thinking of those VR parlors from the movie Minority Report?
    "I wanna kill my boss!"

    I said 'fully immersive' in like the second sentence.

    With a good pair of headphones, I become completely immersed playing Modern Warfare 2. :P

    Really, though, what's that law that says people reject artificial things made to look strikingly real? Perverts might ignore VR altogether and continue using their dirty imaginations to write erotic fan-fictions.

    You mean the Uncanny Valley? That applies only to things that look almost, but not quite, realistic.
    The Uncanny Valley annoys me, because it's cited all the dang time, without a lot of reason.

    The Uncanny Valley isn't a law, or even a well-supported hypothesis, but "common sense". There hasn't been any real support of the idea beyond the fact that it sounds pretty sensible. I think people overestimate how often the supposed valley applies, and have vastly different working definitions of when it applies.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Virtual Reality 24/7 will make people go crazy.

    The Matrix has you.

    Further flexing my nerd muscles, I remembered there was an episode of Batman Beyond that centered on VR addiction called 'Hooked Up'. What I remember most from that one was all the addicts created scenarios where they were surrounded by people who loved them. They could create anything but instead they wanted a perfect family or pretended to be famous.

    A lonely teen creating a VR family seems more 'dangerous' than an adult pedo creating a VR child victim.

    Yes, but we can equivalently expect legislation to curb a 24/7 VR. That particular nature of it seems easy to legislate, since most people would not desire it.

    Steam
    shryke wrote: »
    Talking to ronya is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, that has been shit out and then eaten again by a bulldog.
  • King MultitasKing Multitas __BANNED USERS
    edited June 2010
    Why bother making virtual reality at all?

    Just make some machine that makes people feel pleasure 24/7 until they die. Much easier. That's the natural progression of VR anyway. People are going to want shit to just be easier all the time in a virtual world, until it reaches a singularity where everything is as easy as possible all the time.

    If you focused on having a better life in the real world you wouldn't need virtual realities.

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    24/7 VR = opium den? I'm not sure I follow, ronya.

    Angryspider2_zps663851d1.jpg
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    If you focused on having a better life in the real world you wouldn't need virtual realities.

    Says the dude posting on a message board.
    Just make some machine that makes people feel pleasure 24/7 until they die.

    I suspect that this is not in fact neurologically possible. We only have so much of the neurotransmitters associated with pleasure; even if you somehow directly stimulated the receptors involved they'll eventually start to downregulate. The brain tends to ignore constant unchanging stimuli. I think the best we can hope for is a precisely controlled cycle of stimulation and release.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • King MultitasKing Multitas __BANNED USERS
    edited June 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    If you focused on having a better life in the real world you wouldn't need virtual realities.

    Says the dude posting on a message board.

    Unless this is a messageboard of randomly generated AI characters talking to themselves and I'm the only real human here, this isn't a virtual reality.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    If you focused on having a better life in the real world you wouldn't need virtual realities.

    Says the dude posting on a message board.

    Unless this is a messageboard of randomly generated AI characters talking to themselves and I'm the only real human here, this isn't a virtual reality.

    VR implies AI?

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Why bother making virtual reality at all?

    Just make some machine that makes people feel pleasure 24/7 until they die. Much easier. That's the natural progression of VR anyway. People are going to want shit to just be easier all the time in a virtual world, until it reaches a singularity where everything is as easy as possible all the time.

    If you focused on having a better life in the real world you wouldn't need virtual realities.

    Pssh, what? VR is obviously slotted into the same place as videogames/movies/books/porn. It's a slice of something you're into, but that it's impossible/not desirable to change your life to achieve. I mean if you define it the way you do, you could just say "hey why make a toaster why not just make a magic pleasure machine if all it does is make you happy to have delicious toast?"

    I could train for my entire life to become a super-spy, or I could watch Bond.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    emnmnme wrote: »
    24/7 VR = opium den? I'm not sure I follow, ronya.

    I imagine most people will still need to eat and exercise and relieve themselves, and something that allows them to forget to do so would be rapidly fatal, so there would be support for legislation against it.

    Think of the popular conception of how addictive drugs work... take one, become addict forever. Even if it's not you, this could be your son/daughter! This sort of scary image will hang around just as effectively around a future VR technology. So there will be legislation prohibiting its use in that manner, likely targeted at the manufacturers of VR equipment.

    Steam
    shryke wrote: »
    Talking to ronya is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, that has been shit out and then eaten again by a bulldog.
  • King MultitasKing Multitas __BANNED USERS
    edited June 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    If you focused on having a better life in the real world you wouldn't need virtual realities.

    Says the dude posting on a message board.

    Unless this is a messageboard of randomly generated AI characters talking to themselves and I'm the only real human here, this isn't a virtual reality.

    VR implies AI?

    The use of AI will be heavily prevalent in VR worlds as big corps try to advertise you shit through mindless bots who pretend to be your friends and try to advertise you products. Yes

    Then you will go and buy their virtual shit.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Pssh, what? VR is obviously slotted into the same place as videogames/movies/books/porn. It's a slice of something you're into, but that it's impossible/not desirable to change your life to achieve. I mean if you define it the way you do, you could just say "hey why make a toaster why not just make a magic pleasure machine if all it does is make you happy to have delicious toast?"

    I could train for my entire life to become a super-spy, or I could watch Bond.

    Yes, precisely. On the consumer side, entertainment VR experiences just become one of many new entertainments for our monkey brain to partake in.

    The real miracle is what happens on the producer side - every single VR-able service industry, suddenly telecommuted (so to speak). Both by customers and businesses. And these are, well, fairly numerous - education, retail, finance, advertising, marketing, etc.

    Steam
    shryke wrote: »
    Talking to ronya is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, that has been shit out and then eaten again by a bulldog.
  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    It would be interesting to see the effects of things that feel like simulations, but aren't necessarily accurate.

    Like, say a driving sim with tweaked physics rules to flatter the player. Obviously, these exist right now (pick a driving game), but I don't think most people have particular trouble differentiating them from the experience of actually driving a car.

    What happens when someone spends a lot of time "driving" in a sim that is close to indistinguishable from reality, but nevertheless allows them to get away with things that would cause them to lose control or cause an accident in an actual vehicle? What if that person never learned to drive in an actual vehicle before being exposed to this, and subsequently has to learn?

    Driving may not actually be the best example because it's fairly well-regulated. What started this train of thought was actually thinking about riding bikes offroad (because I do that for fun and it would be nice to be able to ride Cwm Carn without having to drive into the Welsh mountains), and how a fully immersive sim would enable or allow a person to attack trails and land drops way beyond their physical capabilities. I kind of feel like it would encourage people to take bigger risks, although maybe the self-preservation instinct would override that? I'm not sure.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Then the provision of such sims will be banned, the EFF will wail, but the sad sod who drove his car into a tree will be paraded around so the EFF will lose its fight.

    Steam
    shryke wrote: »
    Talking to ronya is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, that has been shit out and then eaten again by a bulldog.
  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    ronya wrote: »
    Then the provision of such sims will be banned, the EFF will wail, but the sad sod who drove his car into a tree will be paraded around so the EFF will lose its fight.

    I don't see that working to be honest.

    It's painfully obvious right now that there isn't a practical way of preventing software considered illegal or undesirable from being distributed.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Real versions of virtual activities would just become more expensive and rare and become something you do to show how much privilege and status you have in your socio-economic situation.

    Except in 3rd world countries where it will just be called a weekend.

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  • HacksawHacksaw J. Duggan Wrestler at LawRegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I don't think we should be worried about video games, to be quite honest. There's no way, short of neural interfacing, that they'll become "fully immersive". The right minded will always be able to tell the difference between reality and a computer-generated fabrication.

    Now dreams, on the other hand, that we should be worried about. That shit always seems so real.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    japan wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    Then the provision of such sims will be banned, the EFF will wail, but the sad sod who drove his car into a tree will be paraded around so the EFF will lose its fight.

    I don't see that working to be honest.

    It's painfully obvious right now that there isn't a practical way of preventing software considered illegal or undesirable from being distributed.

    Well, VRs will entail a nontrivial amount of hardware. That can be tracked.

    The tiny minority who do go on to mod their virtual realities so that their driving environment is more lenient than a real environment will be ignored, since they're a tiny minority. The legislative hammer will swing whenever a mainstream site pops up, though.

    Steam
    shryke wrote: »
    Talking to ronya is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, that has been shit out and then eaten again by a bulldog.
  • TalleyrandTalleyrand Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I'm starting to think the type of VR we might get won't be anything like...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L3Fi30ooaI

    or the Matrix-like fantasies we've been imagining so far.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_helmet

    We can mess with the brain already with magnetic fields that are weaker than the ones emitted by a pair of headphones.

    Not to mention augmented reality.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • Raiden333Raiden333 Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    You know how when you're asleep and dreaming, five minutes of real life time can be turned into like 5 hours of dream time full of crazy adventures?

    God I hope we figure out how to abuse that part of the brain when VR is developed. Imagine not only being able to live through the entire plot of an RPG from the actual perspective of the main character, but being back in the real world in half an hour.

    camo_sig2.png
  • ShivahnShivahn Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    If you focused on having a better life in the real world you wouldn't need virtual realities.

    Says the dude posting on a message board.
    Just make some machine that makes people feel pleasure 24/7 until they die.

    I suspect that this is not in fact neurologically possible. We only have so much of the neurotransmitters associated with pleasure; even if you somehow directly stimulated the receptors involved they'll eventually start to downregulate. The brain tends to ignore constant unchanging stimuli. I think the best we can hope for is a precisely controlled cycle of stimulation and release.

    Experimentally, in rats hooked up to machines with levers that stimulate dopamine release, this is not what happens. They don't downregulate.

    Instead the rats keep pressing the pleasure lever instead of the food lever.

    And keep pressing it.

    And keep pressing it.

    And keep pressing it.

    Until they die of starvation.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Which is how addictive drugs were thought to work, so if VR ends up really working like that we'll see the same societal and legislative response: prohibition.

    Steam
    shryke wrote: »
    Talking to ronya is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, that has been shit out and then eaten again by a bulldog.
  • ShivahnShivahn Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Isn't it still how they're thought to work?

    And I'm not sure if we'd see the same response. Part of the reason drugs are banned is because they're drugs. People are too... shortsighted, I'd think, to realize that it's basically non-physically harmful cocaine.

  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I think you'd get a weird race-condition in standards of beauty. Initially it would be like Ronya said - everything would race towards the current standards. But then of course, they'd become absolutely dominant and uniform - boring. So we'd race away from them towards other things.

    In the end, we'd end up with beauty fashions evolving very very quickly, and everyone trying to find a "unique" look to present with their avatars.

    Dis' wrote: »
    Cancer is when cells stop letting the body mooch off their hard work - clearly a community of like-minded cells should isolate themselves and do the best job each can do, even if the rest of the body collapses!
  • TalleyrandTalleyrand Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Shivahn wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    If you focused on having a better life in the real world you wouldn't need virtual realities.

    Says the dude posting on a message board.
    Just make some machine that makes people feel pleasure 24/7 until they die.

    I suspect that this is not in fact neurologically possible. We only have so much of the neurotransmitters associated with pleasure; even if you somehow directly stimulated the receptors involved they'll eventually start to downregulate. The brain tends to ignore constant unchanging stimuli. I think the best we can hope for is a precisely controlled cycle of stimulation and release.

    Experimentally, in rats hooked up to machines with levers that stimulate dopamine release, this is not what happens. They don't downregulate.

    Instead the rats keep pressing the pleasure lever instead of the food lever.

    And keep pressing it.

    And keep pressing it.

    And keep pressing it.

    Until they die of starvation.

    I've heard that story plenty of times and I believe there's more to it than that though I can't remember what it is exactly.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • MrVyngaardMrVyngaard Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Raiden333 wrote: »
    You know how when you're asleep and dreaming, five minutes of real life time can be turned into like 5 hours of dream time full of crazy adventures?

    God I hope we figure out how to abuse that part of the brain when VR is developed. Imagine not only being able to live through the entire plot of an RPG from the actual perspective of the main character, but being back in the real world in half an hour.

    This would also be very handy for things like torture and/or long-term incarceration. Been handed a sentence for multiple lifetimes behind bars? Now you can live all of it. Or at least, you'll think you did.

    (This was explored in Shadowrun to an extent. The results were not pretty.)

    "now I've got this mental image of caucuses as cafeteria tables in prison, and new congressmen having to beat someone up on inauguration day." - Raiden333
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