Virtual reality as of recent, while still extremely new, has become thetopic of many opposing viewpoints. It has caught the eye of the general publicfor several reasons. Perhaps, this is mainly because of all the possibilitieswhich virtual reality creates. Note that the possibilities are not pre-determined as either good or bad, mainly because there are many differentopinions to the future of this developing technology.
However, despite thecontroversy this new technology has aroused, society should not remain skeptical.Virtual reality has the potential, if used correctly, to become a greattechnological advancement that will aid society in many ways.In the past, virtual reality has been nothing more than a small step beyondvideo games. However, it is now apparent that this technology can be used formore practical purposes. These purposes include national defense, surgicalprocedures and various other applications. Society has not fully acknowledgedthe benefits of virtual reality as of yet because it is still under development.The reason for virtual reality remaining in its development for so long ismainly due to its complexity.
The hardware that has developed so far is unableto make the large calculations required by a virtual reality based machine.However, as apparent in recent years, technology is advancing at an extreme rate.This is another reason why society’s hopes for virtual reality should and haveremained unwaivered.In Orenstein’s story, she gives the perspective of the average citizen whois obviously uncertain about the uses and/or affects that virtual reality willhave upon society. The show she attended was quick to point out thepracticality of virtual reality however, it still left much to be desired. Itseems that Orenstein was disgruntled when she came to an exhibit and the topicof cyber-sex was raised. Perhaps it wasn’t just that it came up but more likehow it came up.
The idea of a man and woman being in a virtual world and a manfondling the womans breasts was probably, although very much possible, not agreat first impression. It gave Orenstein the opportunity to explore the evilsthat virtual reality makes possible.After a while, Orenstein realizes that just like the computing age hashackers, the virtual age will have it’s own high-tech delinquents.You can’t prevent technology from being abused. There will be those whouse VR rudely, stupidly, dangerously–just as they do the telephone orcomputer. Like the telephone and the modem, its popular rise will alsoeliminate the need for certain fundamental kinds of human contact, evenas it enhances our ability to communicate.
(Orenstein 258)Here she is quick to point out that because virtual reality is such a newtechnology it is extremely possible for hackers to have their way with it.Perhaps she also points out that in order for society to accept this newtechnology they will have to accept it’s risks as well.In the government’s perspective use of virtual reality it is easy to seehow this technology proves useful. Supposing that the United States got into awar, by using virtual reality pilots instead of real pilots the number ofcasualties would obviously be less. Pilots would fly their aircraft from aremote location via video and audio equipment in the form of virtual reality.As technology increases over the next several years it will become easier andeasier for the pilots to fly planes from a remote location.However, despite all the lives this may save there is a down side.
Thedown side being that perhaps this will stimulate the government to react moreeasily in a violent way. Without any loss of lives the only thing the governmenthas to lose by attacking are the cost of planes. Keeping this idea in mind, itis very likely that the US will spend less time negotiating and more timefighting. This is most definitely a negative side-affect of virtual realitybecause it will weaken the relationship that the US has with other countries.Integrating virtual reality with society is where the majority of problemsoccur. It is clearly apparent that because this technology is so new society isunsure how it will fit in. This is also a good example of why people’s opinionsare so varied.
Some people see virtual reality as just another tool which willaid society in several ways. Others see it as dominating society all togetherand affecting everyone’s lives everyday. It obviously has the potential to beboth and it is easy to see why people are so hesitant to decide.Perhaps another reason for society’s lack of optimism is their fear thatthey will somehow be removed from actual reality. Although quite ironic, for along time society has had a fear that technology will someday take control oftheir lives. Perhaps the idea of technology becoming so advanced that peoplewill no longer be able to tell whether they are in virtual or actual reality.It is clear that technology has definitely affected society in recent years.
However, it is quite difficult to predict the role of technology in the future.The potential for technology is certainly there, it just needs to be focused itthe right direction.Technology most definitely has the ability to run out of control. Just theidea alone, of man creating technology and having it run out of control issomething society has been fascinated with for many years. Books and moviesdepicting technology overwhelming society have been created with much of thisidea in mind.
Perhaps it is possible that virtual reality will be thattechnology which man is unable to control and will take over all of society. Ifthis is the case, society and the people within it would become uncertain ifthey were in virtual or actual reality. It must be pointed out however, due tothe nature and precaution of society in general, it is very unlikely thatanything like this will ever actually occur. If society is intelligent enoughto invent such a technology it should be able to determine and control it’sconsequences.Orenstein brings up a good point when she says, “This time, we have thechance to enter the debate about the direction of a revolutionary technology,before that debate has been decided for us”(258). Often times in the past,society as a whole has been subject to decisions made by those of the creatorsof new technology. In this quote however, Orenstein points out that with thistechnology people should not only try but make it a priority to get involved.
She, as many others do, see this technology as having a huge amount ofpotential. Without the direction and influence of society upon virtual realityit could go to waste, or even worse, turn into society’s enemy of sorts.Towards the end of the story she tries to depict how virtual reality willhave an impact upon society whether they like it or not.
As I rode down the freeway, I found myself going a little faster than usual,edging my curves a little sharper, coming a little close than was reallycomfortable to the truck merging in the lane ahead of me. Maybe I was justtired. It had been a long night. But maybe it just doesn’t take the mind thatlong to grab onto the new and make it real. Even when you don’t want it to.
Shedepicts that no matter how much society is aware of virtual reality, the humanbrain still has instincts that cannot be controlled. That is one of thedrawbacks of virtual reality. That no one is sure what to expect. Just as withany other technology, the only way to find out the results of virtual realityare to test the limits.Knowing that virtual reality has the ability to affect so many people insuch a large number of ways there needs to be some kind of limitation. Thisbrings up another key controversy as to who should be in control of limitingthis virtual world. If the government is in control it could likely be abusedand mishandled.
However, if society as a whole is left to contemplate its uses,the affects could be either good or bad.Although society knows a lot about virtual reality there is still so muchthat it doesn’t know. Perhaps in the coming years, new technology will come outand people will learn more about this virtual world.
However, until that time,the questions will remain numerous and doubtful yet the possibilities areunlimited.