Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality Will Upend the Way We Think About Borders and Immigration Policy

What happens when virtual reality erases national boundaries?

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Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift, the first of a new generation of consumer virtual reality systems, launched earlier this week to mixed reviews, some of which suggest that it's promising but has a long way to go, others of which say things like "the first time you put it on is the closest thing to real magic you're likely to experience anytime soon."

Either way, though, there seems to be a general, though not universal, sense that the Oculus Rift, and the other VR sets coming in the next few months and years, might—maybe!—herald a kind of technological revolution, albeit one that hasn't arrived quite yet.

Right now, the emphasis in VR development, especially for the rift, seems to be on video games, and I wouldn't be surprised if, over the next decade or so, we'll see video games transition from flat-screen PC and TV experiences to virtual experiences. Video games have increasingly prioritized immersion and visual spectacle over the years (which, of course, sparked a counter-trend of clever smaller-scale games), and it's hard to imagine a better format for the delivery of those sorts of experiences than virtual reality systems that literally block out the sights and sounds of the world around you.

Games are how a lot of us will interact with VR at first, but I think in the longer run, if it's successful, it's going to do a lot more than just make future editions of Fallout more engaging. It's going to change work and human interaction and social organization in all sorts of ways. For example, it has the potential to make a lot of business travel unnecessary: Virtual conferencing rooms could conceivably simulate in-person meetings well enough to eliminate a lot meetings, at least those that don't require hands-on work.

The ability to easily work with people anywhere in the world as if they are in the same room as you will, in turn, challenge a lot of the current thinking about immigration and foreign workers. Over at Slate, Reihan Salam works through some of the potential implications of this, focusing on Microsoft's idea for "holoportation" technology—which allows a virtual image of a person in another location to be projected on top of your current physical environment—using the company's forthcoming augmented-reality device, the Hololens. Here's a snippet from Salam's piece:

VR technology isn't just going to shape the lives of the global jetset. In the years to come, it may well transform our immigration debate. Advocates of large-scale immigration argue that U.S. workers and consumers benefit from it in a number of ways, and they're right. Less-skilled migrant workers often fill jobs that native-born workers would only take on for relatively high wages, thus making a wide array of services more available to working- and middle-class consumers. Skilled immigrant workers, meanwhile, can collaborate with skilled native workers in ways that bring substantial benefits to both.

You can see this changing the immigration policy debate in any number of ways: On the one hand, it could make physical borders seem less relevant than ever. On the other hand, it might provide fuel to restrictionists who argue that physical borders and border controls should be strengthened even as virtual borders disappear. At the same time, it's likely to complicate workplace rules and regulations in all sorts of ways, as previously unknown jurisdictional issues arise.

I don't want to focus too much on this particular branded technology. Microsoft's "holoportation" idea might not work out, or might prove cumbersome and not very useful. All of this technology is still in early stages, of course, and it's always difficult to figure out what widespread adoption will actually look like until it happens. Maybe a hundred years from now, knowledge work will still consist primarily of sitting in front of flat screens, tapping on keyboards and guiding pointers with mice, while scrolling through text on handheld touchscreens.

But I doubt it. and if VR does take off, then it's going to raise these sorts of possibilities and questions about work and borders and immigration and what it means to be a nation, defined in physical, geographic terms, when digital technology has all but erased the concept of distance.

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  1. “others of which say things like “the first time you put it on is the closest thing to real magic you’re likely to experience anytime soon.””

    Yeah, but that’s from IGN. They’d give a 9 out of 10 to a lawnmower blowjob.

    1. I think they were the only group that weren’t calling for Randy Pitchford’s head after the Colonial Marines devs lied to gamers (by claiming a public demo was actual gameplay when it was not), and their game ended up being a massively shitty $60-a-pop failure. IGN is a joke.

    2. Only if it had slightly improved lighting effects over the prior version of lawnmower blowjob.

    3. “This game sucks, it’s the worst game I’ve ever played, I’m giving it the lowest score I’ve ever given any game in my entire career: 6 out of 10.”

      1. You are going to need the forbidden numbers.

        1. Y’know, Penny Arcade might be the only webcomic I bother reading anymore. In college I read a ton of them, from Ctrl-Alt-Del to Sluggy Freelance to whatever Scott Kurtz’s side-project-of-the-month was. But after a while they all got boring or too melodramatic. PA manages to keep it fresh, somehow.

  2. If only the poles had this technology in 39!

  3. I’m as excited about this as I was the Segway.

    1. Yeah, the Segway might be the dumbest thing ever. It inspires a bizarre loathing in me I could never really qualify. It just so perfectly epitomizes laziness and hipster douchebaggery.

      On the subject of lame technology, remember when these were being marketed as THE FUTURE, and no one cared?

      1. Those things were on the market until 2013?!?! If the sage wisdom of Wikipedia is to be believed, anyway.

        Proves that no idea is so bad that a few marketing executives would kill it.

    2. at least the segway had some new real world engineering , the now unavailable wheelchair that could manage stairs used segway tech . Virtual reality has been around for decades, and has been searching for something it is good for. Hasn’t found anything yet .

  4. THEY’RE VIRTUALLY TAKING OUR JOBS.

    1. Where’s the promote button for this?

    2. They need to implement the Swissy Gaze button with a More and Less narrowing slider.

  5. Virtual orphan tears just don’t bring the same joy as real ones.

    1. Notice how many times the little girl asked when “daddy was coming home”?

      Hey dad, a little more time with family, a little less time at the office. I can virtually see what kind of father you’re becoming.

  6. What it will transform is the service industry. Need some guidance servicing a complicated HVAC system? Share your view with a manufacturer’s technician and they will guide you thru the process.

    Or it could be used to help old people find the power button on their PCs.

    1. What it will transform is the service industry. Need some guidance servicing a complicated HVAC system? Share your view with a manufacturer’s technician and they will guide you thru the process.

      Oh, how the HVAC unions will howl! I’ve saved myself close to a gazillion dollars in the last few years by watching youtube videos of people showing me how to fix whatever it is just broke. Imagine how much better VR would be compared to shaky camera work with bad lighting.

  7. So somehow VR solves all the problems that teleconferencing has today by vastly increasing bandwidth requirements while simultaneously requiring substantially lower latency.

    I should just give up engineering. Journalists have figured out all the really tough problems by now.

    1. They’re here to tell us the potential once the engineers figure out how to get it right.

    2. So you’ll get to actually see the barking dog with that one guy who’s always “working remotely”, instead of just hearing it over the conference line?

      1. I love the “barking dog” almost as much as I love the “screaming baby”. Both far exceed the “asshole coworker” waxing philosophic about NFL draft picks at 120 dB.

    3. VR self driving cars by 2020!

    4. On a serious note I can see this being used for work in LEO or other hazardous environments.

  8. I’ve been a little underwhelmed by first-generation hoverboard technology, so I think I’ll wait.

  9. I have a sudden desire to go watch all the stupid 90s virtual reality movies. At least Strange Days and The Thirteenth Floor were pretty good. Unlike Virtuosity or Lawnmower Man.

    1. If you could find a plot hole in Virtuosity I’d like to hear it.

      1. Russell Crowe.

        1. He said plot hole, not asshole.

      2. Finding the plot is hard enough.

    2. ’90s? No love for 2001’s Avalon?

      1. Haven’t seen it, but it sounds pretty good. I should check it out. And I was very lax in not mentioning eXistenZ among the good ones.

        “Death to the demoness, Allegra Geller.”

        1. Ha. I thought the omission of eXistenZ was an intentional slight for some ineffably Episiarch reason.

          1. Though that’s a good assumption, I love Cronenberg, and that was his last “body horror” movie before he stopped doing those. So it’s sort of a landmark.

            1. It’s been too long since I’ve seen eXistenZ.

              Avalon is on Netflix. I wonder how well it’s held up visually. I remember really liking the desaturated visuals on it when I first watched it. It’s just as weird as you could possibly want being a Japanese-Polish film.

              1. I’ll check out Avalon sometime. Tad Williams’ Otherland series also covered “stuck in VR” in detail, and quite well.

      2. Oshii/Ito live movie? That sounds awesome – but not on Netflix in Canada. Damn.

    3. Demolition Man may not have been a virtual reality movie, per se, but it was an important part of the plot.

    4. If you sue, you’ll never get another job in the computer business; if you don’t sue they’ll bury you in Austin. If you sue it’s news; if you don’t it’s gossip. If you sue nobody will believe you; if you don’t, your wife won’t. They will make your life into a living hell for the next three years until this case goes to trial. And for that privilege, it’s going to cost you a minimum of a hundred thousand dollars. Do you not think it’s a game? It’s a game to them. How do you feel about losing?

      1. Is Disclosure *really* a VR movie? Just because they had a VR filing system? Maybe I’m not remembering well, I haven’t seen it in ages.

        1. It’s not really a VR movie: It just shows the awesome potential of VR.

          Michael Douglas gets inside this virtual world, audibly asks an “angel” to help him find some files, then proceeds to serially look at them one at a time to find what he’s looking for.

          Technology!

          1. “This is Unix. I know this.”
            -Jurrasic Park

            /kill me

            (technically not VR but you know they wanted to

            1. Oh, yes. find is so difficult. It’s much easier to get to the Security binaries by flying over a rasterized vector drawing of a filesystem.

        2. It’s a movie? I read the book during my Crichton phase, but I never knew they made a movie out of it.

          1. Yes, with Demi Moore and Michael Douglas. Not bad. The book was better, as is often the case.

            1. I can’t think of a Crichton movie besides Jurassic Park which ever exceeded the movie.

              1. Uh…

              2. Neither can I, and I’d argue that JP didn’t either. The visual effects were spectacular, but Spielberg’s recent aversion to weapons/guns sort of stupidified the plot, whereas Crichton has no such idiotic hangups and gave us neurotoxin dart guns that kill the target before they even feel the prick of the needle.

                1. So apparently I’m the only one who didn’t understand Jesse’s statement?

                  1. It was obvious what he meant. Crichton books are always better than the movies. He’s just high on amyl nitrate right now and lost track of his words.

                    1. He’s just high on amyl nitrate right now and lost track of his words.

                      Now I’m sad that I’m at work instead of huffing poppers, naked, with a German flight attendant someplace.

                    2. Koontz was the same way. Intensity and Phantoms could’ve been awesome movies. Fucking Affleck.

                  2. *exceeded the book. Stupid typo, but I’m surprised the meaning didn’t come through on context clues alone.

                    Has anyone ever claimed that Crichton movies are generally better than the books they’re based on?

                    1. Well, Jurassic Park wasn’t nearly as good as the book, either, so I wasn’t sure. JP was a decent movie on its own, but in the context of the book it was disappointing.

                    2. True, but nothing else has come even remotely close. JP at least was a success. Maybe Andromeda Strain as well, but the other movies I can think of were absolute messes.

                2. I made the mistake of reading The Lost World after seeing Jurassic Park (the first one), because I was 10 and had no idea that there was such a massive divergence between the book and the movie. I was so fucking confused.

                  That did set me off on reading pretty much every Crichton book I could get my hands on. I’d just read Sphere a year or two before the movie came out and remember my parents coming home hating the movie. They described the plot and it was pretty clear the movie had completely failed to translate the story arc to screen. I never did see that movie.

                  1. The movie version was terrible and utterly failed to capture the extreme suspense of the book. Don’t waste your time with it. I saw it in the theater, totally excited, and was very disappointed.

              3. Which of those “movies” is supposed to be “book”? I’m thinking it must be the first one, but I think that’s the only one where I’ve read the book and seen the movie.

              4. You jesse see my above comment about JP.

                1. remove extraneous you

                  1. And since we are on Chriton stuff…Best books in order
                    1. JP
                    2. Sphere
                    3. Timeline (I know I am a nerd)
                    4. State of Fear (Cause book version Martin Sheen gets eaten by cannibals)
                    5. Airframe
                    6. Eaters of the Dead (best Beowulf adaptation category)
                    7. Andromeda Strain
                    8. Congo (but must me taken into context of the times wrt computers)

                    1. And Hollywood destroys Chriton books for sure but they utterly massacre Cussler books. It should be a crime against humanity.

                      AND I LIKE MATHEW MCCONAUGHEY (not like Nicole though)

  10. Who will be the first to publish a story with the headline:
    All in all you’re just another byte in the firewall?

  11. Cyber warfare and social media have already erased national boundaries, we’re just waiting on the rest of the world to catch up.

  12. I’m pretty skeptical. They’ve spent the last decade trying to convince us that really awesome 3D is either here or just around the corner. But, the best 3D that I’ve seen is still gimmicky crap.

    Or maybe this is a sign that they’re giving up on it and moving onto to something more realistic.

    1. More like giving up and moving on. It will still be crap.
      VR is one of the most ridiculous ideas to come down the pike since AI. There are still a boatload of blank checks waiting for AI to cash out.
      The notion that anyone other than the self important preeners who make meetings deadly as it is will be drawn to virtual conferencing basically displays a complete lack of familiarity with meeting and telephone conferencing.

      1. Unfortunately there are plenty of those self-important preeners. I work with a few of them who get a case of the ass if you don’t turn on your video during a skype/lync call. I’m sure they will be very eager to enforce a VR setup.

      2. VR will be used for video games and masturbation, just like most new media technology.

        1. Early adopters.

        2. I’m touching myself when I type half my comments.

      3. The notion that anyone other than the self important preeners who make meetings deadly as it is will be drawn to virtual conferencing basically displays a complete lack of familiarity with meeting and telephone conferencing.

        You mean the 5 levels of management above those who do actual work?

        VR will be the latest magical tech to solve all problems. Now offshoring will really, really work great because the problem was always just that you couldn’t see the offshore workers in 3d.

  13. Here’s an interesting twist. VR has the potential to destroy one of the basic assumptions about brick-and-mortar education; that humans learn best in meat-space and so have to travel to specialized education facilities to get their learnin’ on. Of course, with VR, you can have all the super important interactions with your professors and whole lot less rape and microaggression (auto-edited out with the ‘Special Snowflake’ app).

    With that in mind, I laffed when a couple of years ago, one of the Oculus boys gave a pile of cash to the UofMaryland to build a building.
    http://bit.ly/1wqLsv7
    I guess they can put some servers in it.

    1. It would be completely amazing if technology blew up the education industry as it currently exists. Think about how much wealthier people would be if they didn’t have to go into debt to attend universities.

      1. “Lie down River.”
        – Serenity

        I hope THAT isn’t the future of education.

  14. On the one hand, it could make physical borders seem less relevant than ever.

    No. Just: no. Nobody will think that, except open border ideologues. VR does nothing about borders that telephones did not do.

    Now I must get ready for a GoToMeeting for work, which I am doing from home. It does not make the distance from here to Silicon Valley seem less relevant.

    1. Yeah, this argument is pretty ridiculous given that teleconfrencing *already exists.*

      I don’t know why virtual reality would do anything the internet hasn’t already done when it comes to borders.

      1. Yeah, pretty much.

        Remember when nobody was ever going to go into the office again because internet?

        Countries aren’t going to go away, for pretty much the same reason offices didn’t go away.

    2. Most importantly, the government won’t think that. And never will.

    3. Even among open border ideologues (I think I’m qualified to speak to this), I doubt many will think that.

  15. Generally speaking, my preferred interactions with other people online are confined to text and fraggin’.

    Some of the best communication innovations over recent decades have been the ability to screen people out–push them further away.

    Now they want to make it so being with the inlaws isn’t just for fucking holidays anymore?

    1. No, they want to make it so you that when you teabag your recently fragged opponent, they know exactly how it actually feels.

      All the feel good stuff they talk about is just to cover up that fact.

      1. I really doubt most of the people who do that would actually want to stand up and squat down that many times in VR. it’s different when you just have to click the joystick.

        1. Goddamn you people take things seriously.

          1. Have you never met a libertarian before?

            1. In real life? Briefly, but I didn’t know it at the time.

              1. Briefly, but I didn’t know it at the time.

                Ipso facto NOT libertarian

    2. Yeah, I already hate it when people call me on the phone at work. Text just works better (and it’s always the people with the impossible accents that insist on calling). The last thing I need is to have people virtually invading my space too.

    3. Some of the best communication innovations over recent decades have been the ability to screen people out–push them further away.

      Sharing a desktop remotely with an audio line is one of the most effective ways to work. Both people have multiple screens for looking up other information, and a shared screen for what they’re talking about.

  16. I’m still not seeing how this gets us any closer to holodecks with Sex Program T’Pol Gamma.

    1. Channeling your inner Barclay?

  17. Discussion of VR without porn = FAIL

    1. I think Demolition Man ruined the idea of VR porn for a lot of people.

      1. I think Demolition Man ruined the idea of VR porn movies for a lot of people.

        FTFY

    2. VR is pointless without teledildonics . . .

    3. It is a pron delivery system. It might save marriages.

      She can wear a set to make her husband look like Brad Pitt. He can program his to make his wife . . .

      No woman’s going for that. If anything, VR and real dolls might put the kabash on the birth rate. Let’s face it, women are a pain in the ass most of the time. It’s just that when they’re not being a pan in the ass, it’s worth it.

      1. Everyone is a pain in the ass.

        It’s easier to live with a grown woman than with children.

  18. How will it erase boundaries? VR is simply communication. It doesn’t erase the need for food, shelter, or physical intimacy, and it never will. For this reason, and many others, sex robots are going to be a much more important factor in the future than VR.

  19. I find that the more “realistic” a game is, the more boring and tiresome it is. Why on earth would I want to be flinging myself around in a *game* just like I have to do in real life? That’s what the damn buttons are for.

    1. Oh, I think it’d be absolutely awesome if a game worked by mimicking my body’s movements, but added guns and shit. But while it’d be fun, it’s not a world-changing issue.

      1. With the old school Nintendo and Sega systems you’d have to train people not to flail the controller around like it would help them jump. Then the Wii came around and undid all of that. Next VR is going to have people throwing themselves over couches for cover.

        1. I *hated* the Wii-mote. It ruined some good games. And guess what, that got rid of that stupid thing in the next generation.

          1. Wii-mote is the only way I could play an FPS on the console. Twin stick is a tool of a devil that requires crutches to make work.

            I wish Nintendo didn’t go retard the following generation – if I wanted to play PC game, I’d play it (as I do) on a real PC instead of its retarded micropenised cousin the PSXwhatever.

            1. Wii-mote is the only way I could play an FPS on the console. Twin stick is a tool of a devil that requires crutches to make work.

              You know it’s funny, as a former major PC gamer and now I’m lazy so I own a console, all of my shooters are twin stick on the console. I picked up a shooter a while back for my PC and I thought “man am I going to dominate with the mouse” and I found that I didn’t improve that much.

              1. Well yeah, because on PC you don’t get auto-aim helping out your shots. That’s what I meant by ‘crutches’ above.

            2. One of the best Nintendo games ever, Metroid Prime, is a twin-stick shooter with “crutches” as you say, and it worked great. Then they re-released it with stupid Wii-mote only and it sucks balls. It’s basically holding your arm out in an uncomfortable position the whole time and watching your character spin around in circles. Fun!

              1. Then you must be my Dark Link – I couldn’t finish the Prime on Gamecube (couldn’t beat the last boss) whereas I had a blast on the Wii with actual aiming.

          2. And even saying “Wii-mote” is pathetic and degrading.

        2. It was always hilarious watching my mom playing Tetris and swinging the controller around to try to make the blocks move faster.

          Supernintendo was where I stopped with video games.

      2. If you look at the success of the Kinect, you realize pretty quickly that people don’t want to fling themselves around their livingroom just to play a video game.

  20. I’m really interested in surgical applications of VR. It’s something I love to ponder.

    1. Dr. Zoidberg: We’ll need to have a look inside you with this camera.
      [Fry opens his mouth]
      Dr. Zoidberg: Guess again.

      1. I’ve seen my share of colonoscopies. They are about as gross as you’d imagine.

        OT addendum: at my job, we all pronounce “robot” like Dr. Zoidberg, when we are referring to the DaVinci. It drives the sales rep insane.

        1. Effin’ DaVinci reps. Good for you. I keep wanting to see if we can set one of our surgical robots on “woodchipper” mode and beta test on the damn rep.

  21. ENB covered VR better, and without shoehorning in a ham-fisted political application that’s unlikely to take place.

    Just saying.

    1. Are you trying to pit Reason contributors against each other?

      That might be fun, like a Pokemon Fantasy League. Choose a team of three contributors then fight other commenters.

      1. Can we use classic Reason characters? I got dibs on Nick, Rico and Tuccille!

      2. I’m thinking cage match. And I’ll put my money down on ENB winning that fight against anyone else on the Reason staff.

        1. Oh, she’d definitely be on my team. ENB, Richman (because you bet when he goes nuts, it’s like The Hulk in action) and Brendan O’Neil for when you need a real Irishman.

          1. I’m in, but only if the winner gets Nick’s jacket.

            1. LUCY IS WILD!

              Ohh yeahh!

    2. a ham-fisted political application that’s unlikely to take place

      Really? I use internet telephony to teach a class in Okinawa, right now. Holoportation combined with maybe a classroom robot would allow me to walk around the classroom to observe the students and answer questions at their desk, which would render the regular classroom teacher completely moot for 90 minutes.

      I don’t pay Japanese taxes.

      1. That seems like a practical more than a political application. I don’t see how VR is going to do anything to affect open border politics any more than the internet already has.

        It’s a great thing, I just don’t see it changing the political landscape.

        1. That seems like a practical more than a political application

          The fact that I don’t pay taxes isn’t political? The fact that I didn’t need to apply for a Japanese work permit or visa isn’t political?

          1. Good point. I hadn’t considered that aspect of it.

            1. Even speculating further, what about when hospitals in, say, North America, decide to save costs by having surgery done via telepresence with robotics in the operating theater and the surgeon in Bangalore…costing a lot less per year than if he were present in country and being paid American wages. When your labor becomes 0s and 1s transmitted via fiber optic cables, do you still need a visa? I’m betting there will be calls for that as a way to stop “digital outsourcing”.

              1. Oh, easy – Doc in Bangalore ain’t accredited in the States so any hospital trying this will get shut down.

                1. Not necessarily. Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok. Just about every doctor there has American board certification or fellowship. (One example)

                  1. Triple boarded. Impressive. I only one other doctor who is triple boarded.

                    Only one problem left: you still have to have a medical license in the state where the treatment is provided.

          2. All of those things can be “fixed” politically.

      2. After the 2008 economic downturn, I believe the Koreans started investing in hiring Filipinos to telepresence-teach their kids English.

        There are still jobs for young native English speakers in Korea, but they’re getting tighter and the pay isn’t as good.

      3. All of this could be achieved with standard 2d video conferencing. Don’t get me wrong, the ‘walking around’ VR 3d stuff is sexy as hell, but once you go full 3d VR, you have to be in a physical space surrounded by cameras and then you’re walking around this equivalent empty space to ‘simulate’ walking around in the classroom.

        All of these things are certainly surmountable through technology. You could ‘teleport’ to the users desk and what not, but then we get back to the ‘wow’ factor that can still be resolved with standard 2d video conferencing. Good, nice, expensive, high quality video conferencing, but it all can be easily achieved, including switching to 1 on 1 with a student.

        1. you have to be in a physical space surrounded by cameras and then you’re walking around this equivalent empty space to ‘simulate’ walking around in the classroom.

          Only if they want me to look like me. Being Japan, I’m sure they’d be just as happy with me controlling an avatar of Hatsune Miku with my keyboard.

  22. I look forward to the moral panics when VR netgirls in the Philippines offer teledildonic services to interested clients in North America and Europe; especially if they take bitcoin.

    1. I look forward to the moral panics when VR netgirls in the Philippines offer teledildonic services to interested clients in North America and Europe; especially if they take bitcoin.

      FTFY

      1. I though that was obvious.

    2. I was gonna make a silly comment, but even absent teledildonics, camgirls are a real thing, right? So yeah, forget porn movies, you probably hit upon the #1 monetizable application.

    3. VR netgirls in the Philippines offer teledildonic services to interested clients

      I look forward to this too.

  23. *ctrl-f*
    “teledildonics”
    3 results. I’m disappointed in you people.

    1. At least I was first

  24. Why do I have this strange feeling that ten years ago Suderman was convinced the open plan office and teleworking was going transform the way we think about work and borders?

  25. It’s going to change work and human interaction and social organization in all sorts of ways. For example, it has the potential to make a lot of business travel unnecessary: Virtual conferencing rooms could conceivably simulate in-person meetings well enough to eliminate a lot meetings, at least those that don’t require hands-on work.

    We’ve had videoconferencing for ages now. I suppose its had a marginal effect on business travel, but I doubt its had much.

    The kind of VR we are talking about is presumably enhanced audio and video. So what? People like to, and insist on, meeting face to face for a lot reasons, none of them having to do with poor audio and video on videoconferences.

    I don’t even see VR reducing business travel, much less fundamentally transforming the vast areas of work that are pretty much unaffected by enhanced audio and video capabilities of VR.

    Robotics is what is going to fundamentally transform work, not VR. Sure, robotics and to a much lesser extent VR will require some changes at the edges of how we handle the legal/political issues raised by work.

    But even the way robotics (and VR) transforms work will not affect the nation-state much at all.

    1. This hype reminds me of the hype over self driving cars. Both technologies require a lot of expense to achieve little marginal benefit. You go through the expense of creating this capability and what do you get? A kind of gee wiz video conference. That makes no sense.

      Yes, robotics are going to transform white collar jobs over the next 25 years the way they transformed blue collar jobs over the last 25 years. It won’t be going to see a robot attorney or accountant. It will be intelligent machines making it so anyone can be an account or attorney.

      1. It will be intelligent machines making it so anyone can be an account or attorney.

        See, also, TurboTax.

    2. For most people business travel appears to be necessary to get drunk with coworkers. I don’t see VR changing that.

  26. If movies set in foreign lands didn’t erase national boundaries, I don’t think virtual reality headsets will.

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