Apparently, Mark Zuckerberg is not only dedicating most of his work force to researching and implementing more virtual and augmented reality features into Facebook, now he is claiming that improving and growing virtual reality technology could actually fight the climate crisis. So, let’s look into it.
In an interview with The Information, Facebook’s founder and CEO said that future improvements to VR headsets and technology will allow users to feel like they can “teleport” around and visit people without ever having to leave the house—therefore cutting down on harmful emissions. But, wait a minute, is that really where we are headed as the human species? Haven’t we just spent a year engaging with video calls and FaceTime in order to feel closer to people, when it actually made us feel more isolated? Or is it the nature of virtual reality that has the capacity of transporting you to a different 3 dimensional space?
In the same interview, he went on to explain:
“Obviously, there are going to keep on being cars and planes and all that, but the more that we can teleport around, not only are we personally eliminating commutes and stuff that’s kind of a drag for us individually, but I think that’s better for society and for the planet overall, too.”
This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, especially since almost 20% of Facebook employees are now working on virtual and augmented reality. But, there are caveats to take into consideration when it comes to VR’s impact on the climate crisis. Some experts are saying that virtual reality will definitely have some impact on greenhouse emission numbers. The development of VR will create better haptic (touch and force feedback) as well as the possibility of creating “smell” engines and tactile feelings. These are all replications of human stimuli, but some can’t help but wonder if that’s really the way to go. Aren’t there perhaps better solutions to the climate crisis than annihilating human contact and interaction?