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Virtual People - Scott Adams' Blog

Virtual People

Let’s say in ten years you have digital glasses such as Google’s Glass. Now let’s say the glasses are Internet connected at high speed and have access to facial recognition software. And let’s say the glasses allow you to replace whatever is in your field of vision with a computer generated image.

See where I’m going with this?

The implication of this technology is that you could make love to your spouse while wearing the glasses and replacing his/her face with the face of a preferred lover in real time. And I don’t know if you can buy stock in blow-up sex doll companies but this would be a good time to get in on the ground floor. The manufacturer simply needs to color the dolls blue so the glasses can digitally create whoever you would like it to be.

Or the glasses could digitally airbrush real people who are standing in front of you. Perhaps software could add a tan or even subtract a few pounds. I would imagine software could find the midpoint of a human and digitally distort the stomach area to make the person’s proportions just right.

I can imagine an old-folks care facility in which everyone wears blue clothing and digital glasses that make the residents look like their 20-year old selves. You’d be surrounded by old people but it would look like spring break.

Clothing fashion might stop being a thing in the real world because it is easier to change your outfit digitally. You simply transmit your wardrobe code to the observer and that person sees a CGI image of your clothing choice instead of the blue jump suit you are actually wearing. You could have dozens of virtual wardrobe changes in a day. Or you could appear with tattoos and a tongue ring to your young friends while appearing professionally dressed to business associates and family, all at the same time.

In the future, a television set might be nothing but a blue rectangle on a wall that has a bar code. Your glasses read the bar code and start transmitting images to you while keeping the images framed as if in the virtual TV on the wall. That way you can look around and not have your entire field of vision blocked by the TV image.

One of the worries about Google’s Glass product is that people will hate talking in person to someone who is wearing them. But that is only a problem if one of you has the product and the other doesn’t. In other words, 50% penetration of this product will be a nightmare whereas 100% penetration is fun for all.

Therefore, I predict that Google and other big tech companies will give away digital glasses for free someday, so they can skip the 50% nightmare penetration level and go straight to 100%, or near it, where they need to be. The business model will involve selling subscription connections to the Internet and having access to all of the apps and services. And I assume there will be an advertising model. In any case, I would expect digital glasses to go from a novelty item for geeks to a nearly 100% adoption rate within five years of the technology reaching some minimum level of functionality. And that will happen because the glasses will be free.

I would imagine that even people with no money could use digital glasses in WiFi hot spots and still have access to the most basic functions without a subscription. So money won’t be much of an obstacle.

By the way, I realized yesterday that my generation is the last of the pure humans. Most people my age were raised with no personal technology. Someday historians will mark the smartphone era as the beginning of the Cyborg Age. From this day on, most kids in developed countries will be part human and part machine. As technology improves, we will keep adding it to our bodies.

And if that isn’t scary enough, check out the folks trying to design new life forms at the DNA level.