The scientist known for developing the first functional augmented reality system at Air Force Research Laboratory and founding virtual reality company Immersion Corporation, believes that by integrating virtual reality and augmented reality and having people interact in the digital realm for a significant portion of their day, it could ‘alter our sense of reality’ and distort ‘how we interpret our direct daily experiences.’
‘Our surroundings will become filled with people, places, objects, and activities that don’t actually exist, and yet they will seem deeply authentic to us,’ Rosenberg penned in the piece, published by Big Think.
He is concerned about the legitimate uses of AR by the powerful platform providers that will control the infrastructure
Rosenberg, 62, also worries that augmented reality technology, such as glasses (like those produced by Meta and reportedly being worked on by Apple) will eventually force people to ‘become thoroughly dependent on the virtual layers of information projected all around us.’
‘It will feel no more optional than internet access feels optional today,’ Rosenberg, who made his fortune in technology, explained.
‘You won’t unplug your AR system because doing so will make important aspects of your surroundings inaccessible to you, putting you at a disadvantage socially, economically, and intellectually.
‘The fact is, the technologies we adopt in the name of convenience rarely remain optional — not when they are integrated into our lives as broadly as AR will be.’
In addition to the fact he notes society is living in ‘dangerous times,’ and that augmented reality ‘has the potential to amplify the dangers to levels we have never seen before.’
Rosenberg cited one example that is particularly worrisome to him about a future in which the metaverse overcomes reality:
‘Imagine walking down the street in your hometown, casually glancing at people you pass on the sidewalk.
‘It is much like today, except floating over the heads of every person you see are big glowing bubbles of information.
‘Maybe the intention is innocent, allowing people to share their hobbies and interests with everyone around them.
‘Now imagine that third parties can inject their own content, possibly as a paid filter layer that only certain people can see. And they use that layer to tag individuals with bold flashing words like “Alcoholic” or “Immigrant” or “Atheist” or “Racist” or even less charged words like “Democrat” or “Republican.”
‘Those who are tagged may not even know that others can see them that way.
‘These virtual overlays could easily be designed to amplify political division, ostracize certain groups, even drive hatred and mistrust.
‘Will this really make the world a better place? Or will it take the polarized and confrontational culture that has emerged online and spread it across the real world?’