This column tackled technology in the near future and its social, political, and psychological impact on society.
The Futurist: Virtual reality, empathy, and solipsism
For most of us, the pop-culture reference for virtual reality (VR) is The Matrix, where VR made Neo fly and learn kung fu instantly. It mainstreamed the idea of being a version of yourself in a simulated world. But what if you became a completely different person in a simulated world?
What would happen if I, a cisgender, straight, Indian male, could have an inkling of what it is to be a Chinese sweatshop worker, an Armenian farmer, or a Syrian refugee? I think advancing VR technology offers possibilities that could vastly increase the empathy of its users.
The Futurist: Generation Next
Statistically, you’re probably a millennial. The incoming batch of 2020 Huskies will also consist of millennials, who are roughly defined as people born between the early 1980s and early 2000s. The media has had a field day launching salvo after stinging salvo characterizing millennials as “lazy, entitled, selfish, and shallow” Peter Pans, forever on the metaphorical teat of parental nurture.
We’ve also been praised for being connected multitaskers, and the first true generation of digital natives. As the last of us enter adulthood, the dominant narrative will soon shift to the generation after us. This coming generation will build on our work and reap the benefits of an increasingly connected future. It’s worth looking into what they’re like.
The Futurist: Apple versus FBI, privacy versus security
I was delighted by Apple’s decision this past month to take the FBI’s demand for a “backdoor” into the iPhone 5C owned by the San Bernardino shooter to the public. This conversation is needed, and I’ve been raring to have it for a while, as I myself am conflicted on the issue.
Soon after Apple publicized the issue, the polls came in, and they seemed to be mutually contradictory. Some favored the FBI, while some favored Apple. An overview of the polls, however, suggests that it’s a dead heat between the two sides.