The future possibility of hacking reality

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Despite that the current number of interactions people have with virtual reality are relatively few and far between, it is certainly on the rise. Games such as half-life: Alyx are becoming more and more commonplace as time progresses and as I mentioned in my article about VR headsets, the use of VR, AR and XR is also being introduced into the workplace for product analysis, design and development alongside many other sectors which are also investigating the plausible uses of this technology.

As technology develops and the processing power of computers increases the artificial intelligence and uses of deep learning super sampling (DLSS) are able to be implemented into virtual games with a high level of accuracy. The possibility of an artificial world, which can handle all of the games online users, doesn’t seem far away. The concept of having a VRMMORPG (virtual reality massively multiplayer online game) has existed for a while now, with computer power finally being able to be harnessed for the appropriate voxel-based solutions to be able to create the large virtual spaces required, allowing for users to be able to be in a virtually, graphically-distributed online space where they would have to traverse the space in between them and other players by walking, or paying (a virtual currency) to take another form of transport.

A future where you can plug in to a “Ready Player One” style oasis, where full body tracking and treadmills connected to these headsets is a possibility. It doesn’t then take much imagination to consider the possibility of an antagonist taking advantage of this in order to cause harm to the end user. This could occur through causing the guardian style system, which is a predefined physical area which the VR headset recognises as your “play space”, displaying warnings if you exit this area, to be able to continually update and slowly move the “play space” and in doing so slowly convince the user to move to fit their “play space” in the physical world. This could understandably cause terrible events to occur. On a low level this could be a troll-style action causing players to walk into walls and so forth but on a higher level could cause a user, say, to accidentally walk off the side of a building if they happened to be using a cable free headset in flat with the balcony open and a comparatively low safety rail.

Although these events would no doubt be very rare, they are still a possibility and as humans move more and more into a non-physical working environment, the risks can only increase. As more and more user-generated content is being created, whether that be computer games or much more business orientated CAD software, there will be an ever growing issue of needing to have software be scanned and checked for viruses. The possibility of super spreading trojans can quickly become a reality.

Our minds are only going to become more connected to the internet as we develop as a species, with new companies such as Neuralink predicting direct brain to computer interfaces within the next couple of years. They will have over ten times as many receptors as those on current similar technologies. Once we are connected enough to not be able to disconnect by unplugging, we are at a severe risk. At this point, a simple jump-scare or bright flashing lights are no longer simply avoidable by looking away from a screen, jumping out of your seat or taking off a head mounted display, but at this point are directly integrated into our brains, being able to directly attack targets with a audio or visual attack such as causing an epileptic attack for somebody who has photosensitive epilepsy.

To conclude, as society develops into a more virtually orientated civilisation, which will inevitably become the case as we become more directly connected with smart watches and with HMDs beginning to take over, the possibility of being able to hack said reality will no doubt also increase. Furthermore, there’s the possibility of creating an information overload for those involved. This is becoming an ever-growing concern with young people using technology experiencing higher levels of depression than ever before, likely due to this excess of information. Despite how the time for plugging into the simulation appears far away for now, in reality it is most likely only a few decades away from the first trials. If the risks are kept in mind this will be an incredible step forward for humanity as a whole, however, if they’re not the possibilities for misuse are endless.