With Facebook’s new acquisition of Oculus Rift, virtual reality has made the jump from a science fiction prediction to a present day tool. The tool has left consumers both worried and excited about its integration into society. Oculus Rift developers themselves have opened up an entire forum for the sole purpose of discussing and arguing the effect that the technology will hold on society. My classmates are concerned too. One of my classmates wondered what virtual reality would do to our friendships if rather than hanging out with them in the real world, we transitioned our time together to the virtual world. Similarly, would we explore the world and take vacations if we had the ability to do so virtually? Another classmate argued that the experience was overrated, and it’s appeal would be short-lived.
I for one am not sure where exactly virtual reality would stand in the future. A lot of this answer will depend on societal morals and ethics. I hope that most will not find this a replacement for the physical world. However, the reason I write this post, much after our class discussion of the tool, is because I came across this post that could not have highlighted a benefit of virtual reality more accurately.
The article reads:
Roberta Firstenberg had long loved walking outside and caring for her garden. However, a hard battle with cancer had weakened her so that going outside was no longer possible. In a bid to give her one more view of the outside world, Roberta’s granddaughter Priscilla, a game artist and developer, programmed an Oculus rift to give her grandmother the chance to walk again.
Virtual reality provides a means of escape for the sick, where the physical world may not be in option. I believe it holds a lot of potential as a communication device for communicating across seas and over borders, places that we are unable to access physically. This article is the first example of virtual reality I have seen that has diminished my fears of what virtual reality could do to society. Examples such as this spark hope that despite my fears of technology’s effect on society, maybe technology isn’t so bad after all.