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Virtual Reality: A Double-Edged Sword?

Ah, kicking in paradise with one of my close friends, Ramy. It was great to have a face-to-face conversation with this guy. Except…it wasn’t precisely face-to-face. As a matter of fact, Ramy and I had never met in person. Rather, he was on the other side of the world: Egypt. And I knew him to appear in several forms–-a tabby cat, Anakin Skywalker, or a Gundam robot. But I had no idea of what he actually looked like. And our usual meeting place was…the moon. If we had established such a meaningful relationship, how was this even remotely possible?


Let me answer that question with another question: have you, by chance, seen Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One? It is a film that centers about the technology of virtual reality (VR). Essentially, this involves a device that can graphically create a setting that appears to be real. In this movie, VR has become so advanced that the economy and people of the world are extremely dependent on it. People are able to play games, purchase digital goods, and establish relationships with people all over the globe in the form of an avatar of their choosing.


The fact of the matter is that we are closer to the setting of the Ready Player One than ever with the current state of our own VR technology. Owning an Oculus Quest 2 myself, I am able to go on apps such as VRChat with my 3d avatar to interact with others. Of course, the graphics and immersiveness still have quite some room for improvement, yet the foundation is there. Moreover, with Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement of developing the Metaverse, our supposed version of Ready Player One, the future of VR seems to be very bright. Moreover, the non-gaming applications of this technology are certainly apparent, from Infinite Office to flight simulation training for pilots.


But while this is all very exciting, Ready Player One leaves us with a warning. We must not depend on this technology too much as a form of escapism from the real world. Moreover, given Facebook (now Meta) and its control of the VR market, people have a right to be concerned with their privacy when owning a headset.


Why am I discussing this on our pre-med blog? Well, with respect to medical training, medical schools have begun using this technology for surgical simulation. As a matter of fact, Stanford University School of Medicine began its virtual reality surgical training program in 2016, so I would not be surprised if my future medical education or practice involves some form of this technology.


Personally, my Quest 2 is a blast to use when playing games like BeatSaber and SUPERHOT. There have also been some interesting people I have met along the way. But I keep it to about 2-3 times per week, as I cherish being with my family and friends the most.


What do you think about VR? Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below!



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