Virtual Reality


Virtual reality as of recent, while still extremely new,
has become the topic of many opposing viewpoints. It has
caught the eye of the general public for several reasons.
Perhaps, this is mainly because of all the possibilities
which virtual reality creates. Note that the possibilities
are not pre-determined as either good or bad, mainly
because there are many different opinions to the future of
this developing technology. However, despite the
controversy this new technology has aroused, society should
not remain skeptical. Virtual reality has the potential, if
used correctly, to become a great technological advancement
that will aid society in many ways. In the past, virtual
reality has been nothing more than a small step beyond
video games. However, it is now apparent that this
technology can be used for more practical purposes. These
purposes include national defense, surgical procedures and
various other applications. Society has not fully
acknowledged the 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 is
mainly due to its complexity. The hardware that has
developed so far is unable to 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 have remained unwaivered. In
Orenstein's story, she gives the perspective of the average
citizen who is obviously uncertain about the uses and/or
affects that virtual reality will have upon society. The
show she attended was quick to point out the practicality
of virtual reality however, it still left much to be
desired. It seems that Orenstein was disgruntled when she
came to an exhibit and the topic of cyber-sex was raised.
Perhaps it wasn't just that it came up but more like how it
came up. The idea of a man and woman being in a virtual
world and a man fondling the womans breasts was probably,
although very much possible, not a great first impression.
It gave Orenstein the opportunity to explore the evils that
virtual reality makes possible. After a while, Orenstein
realizes that just like the computing age has hackers, the
virtual age will have it's own high-tech delinquents. You
can't prevent technology from being abused. There will be
those who use VR rudely, stupidly, dangerously--just as
they do the telephone or computer. Like the telephone and
the modem, its popular rise will also eliminate the need
for certain fundamental kinds of human contact, even as it
enhances our ability to communicate. (Orenstein 258) Here
she is quick to point out that because virtual reality is
such a new technology 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 new technology they
will have to accept it's risks as well. In the government's
perspective use of virtual reality it is easy to see how
this technology proves useful. Supposing that the United States got into a war, by using virtual reality pilots
instead of real pilots the number of casualties would
obviously be less. Pilots would fly their aircraft from a
remote location via video and audio equipment in the form
of virtual reality. As technology increases over the next
several years it will become easier and easier for the
pilots to fly planes from a remote location. However,
despite all the lives this may save there is a down side.
The down side being that perhaps this will stimulate the
government to react more easily in a violent way. Without
any loss of lives the only thing the government has to lose
by attacking are the cost of planes. Keeping this idea in
mind, it is very likely that the US will spend less time
negotiating and more time fighting. This is most definitely
a negative side-affect of virtual reality because it will
weaken the relationship that the US has with other
countries. Integrating virtual reality with society is
where the majority of problems occur. It is clearly
apparent that because this technology is so new society is
unsure how it will fit in. This is also a good example of
why people's opinions are so varied. Some people see
virtual reality as just another tool which will aid society
in several ways. Others see it as dominating society all
together and affecting everyone's lives everyday. It
obviously has the potential to be both 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 that
they will somehow be removed from actual reality. Although
quite ironic, for a long time society has had a fear that
technology will someday take control of their lives.
Perhaps the idea of technology becoming so advanced that
people will 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 it the right direction. Technology
most definitely has the ability to run out of control. Just
the idea alone, of man creating technology and having it
run out of control is something society has been fascinated
with for many years. Books and movies depicting technology
overwhelming society have been created with much of this
idea in mind. Perhaps it is possible that virtual reality
will be that technology which man is unable to control and
will take over all of society. If this is the case, society
and the people within it would become uncertain if they
were in virtual or actual reality. It must be pointed out
however, due to the nature and precaution of society in
general, it is very unlikely that anything like this will
ever actually occur. If society is intelligent enough to
invent such a technology it should be able to determine and
control it's consequences. Orenstein brings up a good point
when she says, "This time, we have the chance 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 creators of new technology.
In this quote however, Orenstein points out that with this
technology 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 of potential. Without
the direction and influence of society upon virtual reality
it 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 will have 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
really comfortable to the truck merging in the lane ahead
of me. Maybe I was just tired. It had been a long night.
But maybe it just doesn't take the mind that long to grab
onto the new and make it real. Even when you don't want it
to. She depicts that no matter how much society is aware of
virtual reality, the human brain still has instincts that
cannot be controlled. That is one of the drawbacks of
virtual reality. That no one is sure what to expect. Just
as with any other technology, the only way to find out the
results of virtual reality are to test the limits. Knowing
that virtual reality has the ability to affect so many
people in such a large number of ways there needs to be
some kind of limitation. This brings up another key
controversy as to who should be in control of limiting this
virtual world. If the government is in control it could
likely be abused and 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 much that it doesn't
know. Perhaps in the coming years, new technology will come
out and people will learn more about this virtual world.
However, until that time, the questions will remain
numerous and doubtful yet the possibilities are unlimited. 


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