There’s no going back from virtual reality
Being at home is becoming a way of life. The virtual world is rapidly infiltrating the real world, and the Covid 19 crisis has amplified and speeded up that trend. In our post pandemic world, that change will not reverse. It is all around us.
For instance, at the same time as "smart phone" technology has provided wonderful "virtual" contact with those we love (especially in lock down) we are, in reality, increasingly isolated from one another, most noticeably with those who are, ironically, physically closest to us. Even in pre-pandemic days, we have all witnessed people ignoring those around them, sat in splendid isolation, living their life through their smart phone. The reality of such folk's actual surroundings doesn't exist, they are elsewhere. In the pub, the barmaid could strip off and stand on the bar. The folk locked in the virtual world just wouldn't notice.
Make no mistake, whilst you may embrace virtual reality, it allows others in powerful positions to know exactly where we are, where we have been, what we are doing and who we are doing it with. That is the reality of the virtual world, which, to me at least, is fast becoming the 1984 world of George Orwell. That may not bother you, but it bothers me.
The pace of "virtualisation" is rapid. Paper money is on the way out. It will cease to exist. You will only be able to possess money virtually, which in reality, means you don't "possess" it at all. God help us if the electric goes off permanently, which it could, because even warfare is becoming "cyber" and the electricity supply consequently becomes more vulnerable. Let the wrong malign finger press a computer button and the 21st Century disappears, instantly. It wouldn't do much for your increasingly internet-based banking arrangements, or the operation of your credit card in a cash free society.
We used to physically "possess" music. We had an album, CD, video, or DVD. They were on our shelves, they had covers, we could read them and, God forbid, proudly HOLD them! "Is that your record collection, Steve"? "It is indeed". Not anymore. Music is increasingly virtual, ethereal and physically non-existent. You can hear it, but it's not actually there. All very convenient, but no longer a "possession". You pays your virtual money and gets virtually "now't" (as they say in Yorkshire) in return.
Want to tour the Palace of Westminster? No need to go there. You can have a "virtual tour" instead, of anywhere you want, all without leaving your own front room (it's a pity Dominic Cummings didn't take a virtual trip to Durham, it would have saved him a lot of trouble). MP's don't even have to physically travel to Westminster any more. They can vote by pressing a button, at home. Pressure to make Parliament more "electronic" has been there for some time. The race towards making it the norm has merely been accelerated by the pandemic. Parliament is supposed to be an assembly, only now it isn't. It's becoming virtual (that's ok, most people think, politicians live in their own world anyway).
Have you ever seen the film, Total Recall? That was a science fiction based "virtual" trip to Mars. How long before we'll all be "virtually" going there? Get your virtual headset on, cut out the real world and toddle off into a parallel universe. "Sod the real world, it's a mess". They even predict you will eventually be able to have virtual sex, even with your favourite virtual "celebrity"! You will be able to choose your own reality, without actually having any.
In truth, more people will work from home in future, whatever their job, another existent trend reinforced by the pandemic. Physical jobs, requiring home visits, will be carried out by cyber robots. "No need to get up sir, World Computer Maintenance Co. Robot number 2476598322 (AI) is here to meet your every need. Stay put". An exaggeration? Who knows, but I wouldn't bet on it, even by way of the smart phone betting shop.
Oh - and don't forget football. Missing going to a game? Don't worry, you'll soon be able to watch EVERY game from the comfort of your home (how thoughtful). Please don't fret about nobody being at the stadium. The Premiership has announced plans to fill the stands with "virtual fans" to "improve the atmosphere." That's your rattle and club scarf made pointless overnight.
So, not having to go anywhere is the future that increasingly beckons. As lock down is eased, smart phone technology, the internet, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, as the providers of the virtual world, will ensure lock down becomes effectively permanent. If that isn't the ultimate irony, I don't know what is.
Have you ever seen "The Matrix" starring Keanu Reeves? Don't. It'll scare you to death. It suggests even our real world doesn't exist. It is all a virtual, computer generated myth, which the Matrix tricks humans into thinking exists, whilst in actual fact, they are merely slaves of the Matrix creating machines. Science fiction? Of course it is - but for how long?
The technological wonders of the modern world are a tribute to human ingenuity. They are amazing and potentially a great tool, as long as they don't become our masters. As artificial intelligence (AI) surpasses ours, pray the machines don't one day say "just what are these humans for"? Sweet dreams.
There is a lot of truth in the saying "fact is stranger than fiction." In this modern world it becomes ever more difficult to differentiate between the two. Dominic Cummings seemed to recently struggle with that problem, as he sat in the garden of 10 Downing Street, trying to explain why he drove to Durham during lockdown, whilst simultaneously avoiding any hint of an apology, as one of the lockdown rule makers, for doing what most folk thought those rules said you specifically couldn't do (are you following this?). Arrogance incarnate, by anybody's standards.
One of his "excuses" was a reality defying belter. He was worried that he might have suffered damage to his eyesight because of a medically undiagnosed bout of Covid 19 symptoms. He wanted to "test" his eyes (I see) before driving back to London. What did he do to achieve that? He jumped in his car with his family and drove to Barnard Castle! Pardon? He talked of his "exceptional circumstances," which he thought the rules applying to vulnerable children, allowed him to act upon. Fine, apart from one thing. He should have asked Boris to evaluate his interpretation of the rules BEFORE he acted, not AFTER. Cummings displayed no understanding of the widespread anger his actions had created amongst the rules-abiding majority.
That anger has now turned on the PM. Overnight, Boris's approval rating plummeted from +19 per cent to -1 per cent. The public could not understand why the PM had defended Cummings. Neither could I. Boris should have been ruthless, however effective Cumming's past services have been. After the Cummings No 10 garden statement, Boris had his second chance to act. By the time you read this, let's hope he has.
A DAY IN THIS LIFE
Treat them all the same
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The paraprosokian puzzle
Ever heard of a paraprosokian? I thought it might refer to a native of some place called Paraprosokia, but apparently not. My old mate, Colonel John Hughes Wilson, enlightened me. They are figures of speech with surprising or unexpected endings, such as "where there's a will, I want to be in it". Just one question, John. What's surprising about that?