What worries you the most about technology?
It’s ability to impede human to human communication and relationships. Obviously, social media has been revolutionary in the way that we can connect at anytime and in any place, yet it’s a totally different language. We may appear to laugh uncontrollably over text, yet in person we’re barely cracking a smile. The fear is that one day we communicate as digitalised avatars more than we do in person – redefining entirely what it means to have a conversation or to connect, and what a true relationship looks like.
What excites you the most?
It’s ability to offer perspective. In terms of virtual reality, it’s all about point of view, and when you offer that to someone in the form of a VR experience, that person often feels true empathy for the situation they are witnessing. Take for example, you’re walking through a real-life disaster zone in virtual reality and see the destruction and damaged citizens. You feel the pain and as a result have insight to act and fundraise to provide aid to those effected. VR is a powerful tool in that sense as it provides a platform for deeper connectedness across oceans.
What’s your scariest prediction for the future?
A WALL-E kind of scenario where we’re all completely intoxicated on technology to a point where we lose sight of simple pleasures.
If you could go back in time, what’s one technology advancement you would rave about to your great grandparents?
The electric toothbrush. Hands down. You don’t know pearly whites until you go electric.
What do you think New Zealand will look like as a country in 2038?
I would say it depends if you’re wearing Apple or Android glasses! Virtual adverts will rule free space and physical spaces will be personalised with virtual overlays to reflect an individual’s mood and style. The internet won’t be flat – it’ll be in sight everywhere, always. I would also hope that by then New Zealand’s history, heritage and culture is all digitally captured and recorded so that amid the tech madness we can keep sight of who we really are as a nation.
What’s your social media usage like?
I adopted social media late in life. I had a burning distaste for smart phones as a result of noticing friends around me slump into their apps while we were in the middle of conversation. I remember vividly a day at the beach when I was 14 and my friend whipped out an early model iPhone and started scrolling Facebook. It’s so normal nowadays, but back then for me it was really a “This isn’t right...” moment. I got my first smart phone when I was 21 after I graduated university because I understood it was essential for my line of work. But from there social media became more accessible and it totally absorbed me. I’ve still never had an active Instagram account however and I’m happy about that.
Do you try limit how much personal information is available about you online?
It’s a concerning time for our privacy and information online off the back of Facebook’s privacy scandal. When you understand that there are organisations with algorithms feeding off your information, and in turn feeding you information to influence thought and action, it makes you question your online presence entirely. I know the benefits of the web in a professional sense yet have never been an over-sharer personally. I try to keep things real.
What will be dead in the next five years? (Products, companies, trends, etc)
That’s a tough one. Dated technology always seems to find a way of haunting us in present day. Think film cameras, vinyl, and various gaming consoles. It’s an aesthetic thing and a hat-tip to the future gone by. But one piece of tech I’m comfortable to write off is hard disk storage. Currently at StaplesVR we chew through 1 gigabyte of data per minute of recording with our 360 camera systems. Data management and storage can get out of hand. Long live the cloud.
Staples VR designed and built New Zealand Fire Service - Escape My House, which was the world's first fire proof VR capture and interactive VR game showcasing how to escape a burning building real time.
What does your ideal robot look like?
I could do with a robot chef and bar hand. He would be fluent in Italian and called Giorgio. All his information would be uploaded by me only. No AI included in this chef robot. That’s where I draw the line.
Will the robots become sentient and kill us all?
Yes. Yes they will. I’m not ready to trust AI just yet.
How likely is it that we’re living in a simulation?
The terrifying thing is that isn’t a farfetched concept at all. It’s been projected that in less than a decade’s time, as resolution becomes clearer and game mechanics become smoother, virtual and augmented reality will become indistinguishable from reality. So, who’s to say I’m not in a simulation right now playing the role of a 23-year-old VR technician in the process of a Q&A with Idealog. (It’s a very specific game… not quite sure who would be entertained by that).
How far should we take human enhancement? (Bionic limbs, computer chips in brains, designer babies)
Well it will always need to be regulated, that’s for sure, yet I don’t think it will ever be able to be truly controlled. I think less of a leap would be human enhancement for those who are at a disadvantage. Someone with an illness or a deformity.
How would you feel about interacting with a chatbot fuelled by a deceased loved one’s texts and social media posts?
Personally, pretty damn uncomfortable. I see how it could be beneficial to someone going through the grieving process after losing a loved one, yet it could be dangerously unhealthy in the same sense.
What about being a part of a social credit system, Black Mirror style?
Another scary thought. That’ll be the true death of freedom of expression. Suddenly you’re ‘poor’ because you believe in an unpopular opinion. It’ll be a total spiral of silence to the point where society stands still, and social change is a thing of the past. I’d certainly be looking into exporting myself out of here on a Mars One voyage if that ever happened. Provided I don’t need to reach a certain social peak to apply…
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