philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Will virtual reality become a political tool?

GettyImages-863228548Stanford professor Fred Turner cites a 1922 statement from reporter Walter Lippmann, who noticed how photography was shaping public sentiment during World War I, and how that could be used to manipulate said public. Whoever publishes photographs that frame certain messages hold political persuasion over voters.

The distance between photographs and VR and Augmented Reality platforms is vast. Turner believes the persuasive power of devices like the Oculus Rift can alter the entire landscape of politics.

As the Oculus Rift and other devices come to market, we need to ask what it might mean to not simply see pictures in our heads, but to feel them, to live with and within them, moment by moment.

Social media was supposed to bring us closer together, and in some ways it has. But we don’t all play by the same rules. It’s easy to imagine a populist leader creating a virtual reality akin to North Korea. It’s also easy to foresee corporations building worlds in which only their products and services work.

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