The Assyrian clay tablet that whines about the attitudes, desires and nature about the youth has long been used to show the generation gap is as old as humanity itself. Though the Assyrian tablet is nothing but an urban myth, it makes an effective point when it comes to demonstrate that the fears about the manners and desires of the next generation are generally inflated. “We need to talk about your interest in – what is it called – the spear!” So when people talk about the potential hazards technology poses for the psychology or communication skills of the youth, and for a healthy society in general, you may shrug and say that many things we see as benign or totally forgot about were once demonized by a parent and feared to bring the apocalypse upon the world like Atari, seriously, who remembers Atari except for geeks with a science aptitude?
In fact, this may very well be the case for many, many inventions, but when it comes to AI and VR, this is debatably not the case. In its earlier days, VR was called electronic LSD, for it puts a distance between people and their mundane realities and can offer a new experience which might become addictive. AI, on the other hand, is used to analyze the behavioral patterns of users to determine what they are likely to desire, buy, or even, what diseases they are more likely to catch; like a soothsayer who sees through you. Spooky, right? Not exactly.
Jaron Lanier, the man who is known as the father of virtual reality, says in his Dawn of New Everything that the uses of emerging technologies and how will they be positioned in the social structuıre is generally determined by potential customers, or with a little stretch; the public and, as it naturally follows, the demands of the market. This is a fortunate sign that hinting that we might have a say in the matter, but bringing the weary and endangered species of 21st century idealist to act is no easy business.
Recently, Facebook announced the launch of its VR hub; Horizon. According to the company’s claims, Horizon will enable you to socialize with real people from all corners of the world, and in the comfort of your home. Wait, what? It is rather ironic that socialization is a key selling point for Horizon while social precisely means “related to the society” or “the social sphere”; which corresponds to outside, to public places where individuals visibly constitute ‘the society’, or act as ‘society’. Sure, you can use the Horizon to make weekend plans with your family and friends who live at the other end of the world. For such virtual “visit”s or “reunion”s, Horizon definitely offers more than Google Hangouts or Skype. It gives a sense of reality and synchronizes your mood and mind with those of whom you love. It can be a viable option for having fun with family or actual friends, however, making friends through VR can create a false sense of social functionality, and with the claim of bringing the world to your feet, it can actually stuff the world into your house, disfigured, indistinguishable, suffocating. Then again, it can help marginalized or bullied youth to find a shelter from the brutality to which they were subjected. It can help like-minded, young people to bond, empathize, and stay strong in the face of looming mental health crisis that poses considerable threat to the contemporary society. However, with lacking parental supervision, the same bonding and socialization tool can further solidify the sectarian, tribalist instincts most adolescents and young adults retreat in order to define the other with the intent of self-identification; to distinguish themselves from the rest of the society. uch an instinct can take over a teenager’s identity who craves to belong, and therefore is particularly susceptible to being recruited by an ideologically radical organization that promises an identity, a belonging, and a strong delusion of being sure of what is right. According to a brochure meant as a warning against online-recruiting practices of illegal organizations, and prepared by The Woodrow Wilson International Institute for Scholars, an emotional bond and a sense of socialization is essential to make the target feel close to and trust the perpetrators. An article published in TIME Magazine in June 2010, online platforms whose primary means of communication is writing such as e-mail or Twitter may cause loose bonds of trust to be formed between individuals, and can even cripple the trust between couples, compared to visual mediums. This hints at the risk of a BR hub’s becoming the hot spot for such recruiting activities. However, antagonizing a technological concept in its whole due to some risks it may present is unideal from both an economic and psychological standpoint. Whether it is technological or not, it is quite natural for a new concept to inspire fear in people, and make them feel alienated. It is even the backbone of 20th century literature. To benefit from the great potential of these technologies and to evaluate and act upon these natural worries requires the existence of intellectual, scientific, industrial, and legal groups that interact with each other to produce all-encompassing preventive and countermeasures to fight with those risks and to harvest maximal benefit from these concepts that is synchronized across disciplines and venues.
Another , more aesthetic than serious, problem with making Facebook Messenger 3D is the lameness that penetrates the eye. When an exciting technology with great potential is first presented to the public’s attention, it stirs crowds and revives imagination. What can be done with it? When closely observed, this energetic dreaming meets brainstorming phase can open doors to new realms and solutions for scientists and industry leaders. The ‘spark’ period is generally the only chance we have to be truly polyphonic before the market selectively listens to some voices and a majoritarian or sometimes oligarchic rule takes over the production lines. VR has been through the spark phase recently and AI is just there. At this point, we expect these technologies to act as panaceas, work miracles, be Aladdin’s lamp, and perhaps, they have the potential. But after the ‘election of tastes’ what we have, before advancements in cancer research, military training and new palliative treatment techniques, is a cartoonized other to converse with. Alas, the creative elite and the economic elite in tech sector does not always refer to the same names, groups, or brands.