Treknology by Ethan Siegel

Treknology by Ethan Siegel

Author:Ethan Siegel
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Voyageur Press
Published: 2017-12-09T05:00:00+00:00

With technology like the holodeck, the possibilities are endless.

But perhaps the most holodeck-like incarnation is a virtual reality room, where an omnidirectional treadmill serves as the floor and the dome-shaped room is covered in projectors. Although no sense of touch currently accompanies it, the ability to move through a seemingly endless digital world projected everywhere within a human being’s field of view simultaneously is one of the ultimate dreams of gamers everywhere. Instead of being glued to a single TV screen, you could instead be surrounded by the sights and sounds of an entire virtual world, with a single, dedicated room serving as a real-world holodeck. A competing technology is a set of virtual-reality wearables, which could give wearers not only the ability to see, hear, and potentially touch the virtual world around them, but to interact with one another simultaneously within that world. Much like in Star Trek, this wouldn’t be exclusively for entertainment purposes and would lend itself to a variety of training and simulation scenarios, particularly of the dangerous variety. This technology could become widespread and commercially available as early as the mid-2020s.

While the ability to simulate a human being is still a long way off, as a machine that passes a robust Turing test—one of the best-known tests of whether a machine possesses humanlike intelligence—has yet to be developed, creating a virtual environment that provides anything from lighthearted entertainment to simulated life-or-death scenarios is well within the reach of modern technology. A variety of approaches exist to not only provide the visual and auditory sensations of being immersed in a virtual world, but tactile feedback as well. Certain sensations, however, much like in Star Trek, will likely need to be replicated rather than simulated, as there’s no known way (yet) to simulate the feeling of being wet without the subject actually being wet in reality. While the actual execution of a holodeck might look extraordinarily different than a graph-paper-like room powered by holoprojectors, replicators, force fields, and tractor beams, the fact remains that this technology is being rapidly developed and brought toward fruition. By the mid-twenty-first century, perhaps all of us will have the opportunity to choose our own holovacations, and holoprogrammer will become a bona fide profession!


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