Consciousness in Virtual Reality was the topic for a recent all-female panel discussion (above) organized by Digital Raign and hosted by SpiritualVR at Upload in San Francisco. Everyone had lots of interesting things to say but one thing that investor Anastasiya Sharkova said stuck with me.
She spoke about her first experience with virtual reality which was a title called: TheBlu: Encounter. Developed by Wevr in Venice, California -- here's the blurb from the website:
"Imagine what it is like coming face-to-face with an 80-foot blue whale, whose eye ball is almost the size of your entire face.
An experience which feels real, but clearly couldn't possibly be so, with a sense of uncanny scale and unexpected empathy."
Sharkova says that she knew full well that the whale wasn't real and that everything around her was computer generated and artificial yet when she looked into the whale's eye she felt a powerful emotional connection.
And it began to change her behavior.
"For about two weeks I was using a lot less water. I took only short showers -- and believe me I love my morning showers," Sharkova said.
"VR is such an immersive experience that it totally overwhelms your senses you become convinced something real is happening."
I've read about VR helping change people's behavior and thoughts in therapeutic contexts such as dealing with post traumatic stress syndrome. But what if it were used for commercial messages, what if the whale was AT&T or some other corporation or the government?
After the panel I asked Sharkova what happens in the near future when the blue whale is AT&T?
She said that it is still early enough that companies in the industry will get together and they will create rules and figure out how to apply them.
Self-regulation is the only regulation that US tech firms will advocate for because government regulations and laws can constrain new markets.
However, all governments eventually regulate all new technologies of importance especially in communications -- essentially anything with a large distributed network. Electric power, railroads, radio, TV and telephone are examples.