Inke Arns on Sun, 27 Dec 1998 16:37:47 +0100

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Syndicate: (Fwd) Philip Zhai: VR Timetable

From: "Philip Zhai" <>
Subject: VR Timetable
Date: Sat, 26 Dec 1998 19:43:35 EST

A Hypothetical Timetable
of Virtual Reality in the Future

(alert: this is not a prediction, but just a special presentation of the
concept of VR)


2000: 3D visual-display screens and 3D earphones are installed
inside the helmet which is wirelessly connected to a super

2002: Data gloves that you wear pick up signals of your hand
movement and tracking sensors pick up signals of your arm
movement, and these signals are sent to the same super computer,
such that on your 3D screens you can see realistic images of your
own arms, hands, and fingers; primal cyberspace is formed. 

2005: Haptic devices and data gloves are combined into one such
that when you see (the image of) your hand touching an object the
glove gives you stimuli in time so you also feel the touch; when
you strike the object, you can hear the sound as if it were from
that object.

2015: Haptic/data gloves are expanded to cover the whole body so
you have a complete haptic/data bodysuit. So your whole body
appears in the 3D environment among other synthetic objects which
you can touch, hear, break, play with, etc.

2020: Motion-tracking facilities are connected to your limbs such
that your body-movements such as walking, jumping, will not
necessarily let you go anywhere in the actual world, but the
resultant signals are sent to the computer so you see yourself
walking, jumping, etc., in cyberspace, that is, in the virtual

2030: The image of your whole animated body interacts with all
other images in cyberspace, and your five senses are fed
with corresponding stimuli. As a result, the fully coordinated
sense perception is presented as coming from the 3D images in
cyberspace. That is, the color, the sound, the smell, etc. are
all perceived as coming from one or another 3D object you can

2040: Fundamental laws of physics are programmed into the
infrastructure of virtual world such that we see virtual events
manifesting regularity similar to those in the actual world. Look
ahead you see an ocean and look behind you see mountains; look
ahead again you see the same ocean but now a passenger ship is
coming from afar ... 

2045: The computational power has dramatically increased such
that problems such as time lapse and rendering rates no longer
prevent us from carrying out seamless interaction with objects in
cyberspace. Thus, our virtual experience is totally immersive;
and cyberspace is totally isolated from physical space.

2050: Haptic/tactile recorders are available so that using
bodysuit and other devices we can record, edit, and playback our
sense of touch.

2060: Internet is transformed into a cyberspace infrastructure,
so that all Internet surfers can interact with each other by
shaking hands, swapping gifts, etc. Lovers can embrace one
another in cyberspace, regardless of the physical distance in the
actual world. 

2070: You can choose your own image in cyberspace, and adjust the
strength of each of the five senses as you like.

2090: Interaction in cyberspace through Internet has become a
major means of long distance communication.


2100: Telecommunication is combined with robotic technology to
carry out teleoperation such that virtual reality goes beyond
communication. Our interaction with synthetic objects in
cyberspace will actually initiate and maintain physical processes
in the actual world and perform tasks as we wish. When we
interact with objects in the foundational part of the virtual
world, the computer sends signals to robots in a remote place
such that the robots in the actual world will interact with
physical objects in the natural environment to perform
industrial, agricultural, and other basic tasks for human
subsistence and prosperity. Humans immersed in cyberspace
experience telepresence as if they are interacting with physical
objects personally since the remote robots send back stimuli for
the five senses as they encounter physical objects.

2110: Teleoperation expands to allow for interpersonal
cooperation. Different robots teleoperated by different persons
immersed in cyberspace will act together to carry out complicated

2130: Robotic human surrogates spread all over the earth, and any
person immersed in cyberspace can teleoperate any one of these
robots; thus you don't have to physically travel to any other
places while you can be present in many remote places and
interact with physical objects or human subjects in those places.

2150: Robots differently sized (try also to think about
applications of nanotechnology) and differently powered can be
chosen by the person immersed in cyberspace so that, coordinated
with visual image amplification or reduction (think about visual
images from a satellite or from a microscope), he/she can
teleoperate very large and very small objects at ease. He/she can
pick up (in virtual world) an airplane (in the actual world) with
two fingers, or walk through a blood vessel.

2180: Most of human activities are progressing in the virtual
world. We maintain our basic economy by teleoperation in the
foundational part of VR, and carry out artistic creations in the
expansive part of VR.


2200: Robotic human surrogates are shipped to the outer space and
humans visit, explore, and colonize other heavenly bodies by
telepresence, teleoperation, and possibly communicate or
cooperate with other intelligent beings thereby.

2250: Human reproductive process is also carried out by cybersex
and teleoperation, and children grow up in the virtual world,
thus telepresence and teleoperation become their default way of

2350: Our descendants living in the virtual world regard years
before 2000 as pre-historical, and they learn how we --their
ancestors-- used to live without telepresence and teleoperation
only by reading history books.

2400: Our later descendants begin to create their second-level
virtual reality.

1998: But how do we know that we have not already been living 
in virtual reality and doing telepresence and teleoperation right 
now, in 1998, before 1998, or since the very beginning? What's the 
nature of what we call "material objects," or "physical space," or 
"geographical distance"? Also, what is the nature of the human mind 
and consciousness, and what ethical implications does the "new 
genesis" have for humanity? In my second book, "Get Real: A 
Philosophical Adventure in Virtual Reality," I demonstrate why and 
how there are no ontological differences between virtual reality and 
actual reality, and between cyberspace and physical space. I argue 
that 1) whatever reasons we have for justifying the materiality of the
actual world are equally valid or invalid for justifying the 
materiality of the virtual world; 2) whatever reasons we have for 
calling the perceived objects in the virtual world illusory are
equally applicable or inapplicable for calling those in the actual 
world illusory; 3) whatever functions we need to perform in the actual 
world for our survival and prosperity we can also perform in the 
virtual world. 

Author Philip Zhai's WebPage:

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