[ExI] VR content

spike spike66 at att.net
Sun Jan 25 17:10:52 UTC 2015



From: extropy-chat [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Anders Sandberg
Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2015 8:40 AM
To: ExI chat list
Subject: Re: [ExI] VR content


>…I was active in VR during the original peak in the 90s. That makes me a bit cynical…


Ja.  We had an active wearable computer online group that lived and died before ExI-chat really got cooking.  I have many fond memories of that.  I didn’t write much but listened to that.  All the major roadblocks identified in the early 90s are being chipped away.  We didn’t have the hardware back then.  We do now.


>…It seems that today we have the software and hardware to make it work really well - one reason it didn't take off in the 90s was of course that limitation…


This Microsloth Hololens looks cool:




>… But one needs to think of the use cases: what is it *good for*?


I can think of a hundred uses for this before breakfast.


You brought up education, and certainly there is that.  We have developed a winner-take-all MOOC, and that winner appears to be Khan Academy: terrific content, good explanations, plentiful and free.


In that program, Sal Khan gave a history lecture which achieved something I never would have guessed was even possible: he explained the origin of the state of Israel without any particular political bias.




I really like Microsloth’s notion of a plumber helping a prole through a repair without coming to the home.  I can imagine that would really be great for helping grandma fix her email.  Ja I know we have screenvisors and Skype which already does that.  But there is an advantage to working it this way: teach the homeowner to fix her plumbing and grandma to fix her email without actually doing it for them.


This whole notion really has me rethinking the wealth of nations.  This development could be the biggest stride in raising all boats we have seen in a long time.  Perhaps it will help more people stay home and take care of themselves, rather than the inefficient process of going off to an office, toiling for taxable currency, coming home, waiting in traffic both directions, hiring someone else with what is left of her taxed currency to do a task for which the hired person must pay taxes and so on.  Teaching people to do for themselves is more efficient.  Move bits, not butts.  


We may now have a way to easily learn how to fix your own stuff around your house, to process your own foods from raw vegetables and produce, to do at least the easy things by getting on the HoloLens with the cat who knows how to do it.  That to me is an exciting development, and uses something we didn’t have much of in the early 90s: cell phones.







Obviously one can make computer games even more immersive, which is good insofar people play them for immersion. But quite a bit of gaming has social aspects - people in the room participate to some extent. This use case is not enhanced by VR/AR. So I predict that for the dedicated gamer VR would be great, but it would not work for the informal/light gaming or social gaming in a group. Same thing for demonstrating things, whether infoviz, architecture or sales forecasts: switching context into a VR environment must be so simple and seamless that people do not mind it.


Interactive immersion is great for visualising stuff, and I can see some amazing educational applications. But the cost of making a good educational worldlet is also higher: making a neat demo of a property in calculus will take longer than explaining it on the blackboard. Yes, it can be re-used globally and endlessly, but so can a good explanation. So far I have rarely been impressed with interactive software education because the shining parts - where somebody actually used the medium for something awesome - are usually padded with rather crummy software experiences. Probably a MOOC-like winner-takes all phenomenon could occur, where everybody shares the very best VR explanation for something. But I suspect it will be a *long* while before we have great material for every part of education. 


My personal guess is that VR for gaming will drive the technology, while AR applications is where we actually get the useful enhancements of human capability. But since good design is hard I expect that the utility will be rather uneven. I predict it will take up to 20 years from good VR hardware/software is invented until it is properly integrated in human life. 


Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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