As content creators are slowly experimenting with Virtual Reality we’re beginning to see some great use cases. Virtual Reality headsets can be used by wearers who are afraid of public speaking to overcome that fear. The United Nations is using VR content to heighten the empathy a user experiences while viewing content of those that are suffering. There’s also many therapeutic and entertaining benefits of VR.
But, there’s a dark side…
I’m not referring to the physical disadvantages (e.g. motion sickness and eye fatigue that the current generation of VR headsets present). I’m referring to the mental disadvantages.
Sony seems to be the first company to have created content around this in the form of an interrogation experience that was demonstrated on the Playstation VR at E3.
Unlike television (presenting a state of disbelief), VR presents a state of belief. Your mind is tricked into believing that what you see is real.
What’s stopping somebody from injecting you with a few psychotropic drugs (a chemical substance that changes brain function and results in alterations in perception, mood, or consciousness), strapping a headset onto you, and forcing you to watch a loop of experiences to make you think that a fabricated experience actually happened? Intelligence agencies may not hesitate. VR can be used to condition your mind to believe that you were a witness or accomplice to a crime so that you will falsely admit your guilt.
It can make you feel false yet strong emotions to someone or something. Remember that Relax scene from Zoolander where Derek was brainwashed?
Or, similar to what mass media organisations do, it can brainwash you to falsely believe who is friend or foe, what is truth or fiction:
VR Headsets will allow content creators to implant their message deeper into your mind.
I am afraid of Virtual Reality.
The VR version of a horror flick may now become a traumatic experience; general VR content may be used as a means by media organisations and advertisers to make you believe what they want you to believe or make you like / dislike what may not be in your best interest.
Will the message that content creators want to convey and intensity of that message also be regulated?
I hope so, or else we’re looking at a generation of brainwashed, mind-controlled users emerging.