Tag Archives: virtual reality

an immaterial objection

Via L M Sacasas, an interview by Evan Selinger with David Chalmers, who appears to be analytical philosophy’s current useful idiot from the POV of the tech scene.

Does that seem harsh, whether on analytical philosophy in general or Chalmers in particular? Well, given said discipline prides itself on a rigour that the filthy continentals supposedly abjure, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor after this line from the final paragraph:

One big difference between VR and physical reality is that material goods in VR are abundant.

I don’t know where to even start with such a monumentally stupid and contradictory statement.

But while it’s tempting to laugh and roll our eyes at these people, they are not marginal cranks. This, as Sacasas points out, is what a lot of the most wealthy and powerful people in the world actually believe, as an article of faith; “transhumanism is the default eschatology of the modern technological project”, and that should worry anyone who doesn’t see Ready Player One as a utopian document.

A way to sell selling itself

VR/AR is ad-tech. Everything built in studios (except for experimental projects from independent artists) is advertising something. That empathy stuff? That’s advertising for nonprofits. But mostly VR is advertising itself. While MTV was advertising musicians, the scale and creative freedom meant that it launched careers for people like Michel Gondry, Antoine Fuqua, David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, etc. A band from a town like Louisville or Tampa could get in touch with a local filmmaker and collaborate on a project and hope that 120 Minutes picks it up. There were entry points like that. And the audience was eager to see something experimental. But a VR audience is primed to have something like a rollercoaster experience, rather than an encounter with the unexpected. The same slimy shapeshifter entrepreneurs that could just as well build martech or chatbots went and colonized the VR space because they have a built in excuse that it took film “fifty years before Orson Wells.” Imagine that. A blank check and a deadline in fifty years.

The always-insightful Joanne McNeil. Everything the Valley does is marketing; that they’re still flogging away at a horse two decades dead tells you everything you need to know about what the word “innovation” really means.