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posted by martyb on Friday October 13 2017, @01:06PM   Printer-friendly
from the do-you-see-what-I-see? dept.

"At every step along the way, the future is built by people who believe it can be better."

That's the message Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, brought to the company's fourth annual Oculus Connect virtual reality developer conference Wednesday. As in previous years, Zuckerberg joined the stage to discuss the promise of what virtual reality can be and show off some goodies.

The company tallied 100 million app downloads, he said, and added that the company continues to work on a less-bulky version of its headsets.

But he said the company has a goal: Get 1 billion people in VR.

Maybe Zuckerberg can take those billion people along on his virtual cartoon tour of Puerto Rico's hurricane damage.

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  • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday October 13 2017, @05:32PM (3 children)

    by urza9814 (3954) on Friday October 13 2017, @05:32PM (#581880) Journal

    Jobs doing what, exactly? Obviously, he wants to give some people jobs in the VR industry. What more do you want?

    I hate to stick up for Fuckerberg, but seriously: suppose you suddenly find yourself bestowed with a billion dollars in wealth (not in cash, though, mostly in some company's stock). You say you want to give a billion people jobs. How exactly are you going to do that? Set up pointless make-work camps for them? Usually, the way rich people give people jobs is by starting companies. Well, he's done that. What more do you want? Jobs aren't something you can magically create out of thin air, unless you're a government creating make-work jobs and either increasing taxes on productive citizens to pay for it, or printing money and devaluing the currency to do the same. At least a government also has the power to create real jobs, by spending money on things like infrastructure upgrades and public-works projects. One private billionaire (on paper, in stock) can't do that.

    I think a strong argument could be made that producing VR content is ALSO a form of pointless "make-work" job.

    The way I see it, in this context there's three different categories of jobs to talk about:
    1) Jobs that are beneficial to society but not particularly profitable (ie, the government doesn't directly profit from building roads, but the rest of us do)
    2) Jobs that are beneficial to society and also profitable (Arguably a lot of Musk's stuff aims for this category)
    3) Jobs that are profitable but not very beneficial to society (clickbait ad networks are probably a good example)

    I'd say VR entertainment is mostly in the third category. Zuck expects it to be profitable, and *maybe* it'll do some good for the world letting people more directly experience distant locations but more likely it'll be used for video games and entertainment.*

    And there's nothing necessarily wrong with that...I enjoy gaming, and someone's gotta make 'em, although I'd personally be extremely wary to try anything produced by or related to Facebook...but my point is only that *if* Zuck was looking to use his billions to improve the world, there are far more effective ways of doing so than VR gaming. Gates' recent activities aren't perfect either, but they're a hell of a lot better if that's the goal.

    So as the OP said...Zuck isn't doing this to be a nice guy, he's doing this to turn a profit and to increase his control over our computing devices. And that last point is something I think we ought to be a bit concerned about. Free/Open technologies are only recently coming to parity on the desktop/laptop space; they've totally lost mobile for the foreseeable future...if VR is the next big thing, can we prevent Facebook from dominating that space?

    *If it's purely Oculus type stuff, it'll be just for entertainment. If he manages to get full AR, somewhere between the Oculus and Google Glass, that could truly change the world. But if it's locked up behind Facebook's profit motive, it'll only change the world into a sea of floating advertisements. On the other hand, if it's open and accessible to everyone, it'll change the world into one big Holodeck.

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  • (Score: 2) by crafoo on Friday October 13 2017, @06:52PM (2 children)

    by crafoo (6639) on Friday October 13 2017, @06:52PM (#581940)

    I think your near-sighted assessment of the situation is a good argument for why no one person should be making decisions for everyone.

    The tech that comes out of low-latency, hi-resolution "VR entertainment" is directly applicable to remote surgery, VR tele-operation of heavy machinery, and countless other "useful" endeavors.

    You may not see the connection. That does not mean it does not exist, or in fact, you have any idea what you are talking about.

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday October 13 2017, @07:31PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Friday October 13 2017, @07:31PM (#581962) Journal

      The tech that comes out of low-latency, hi-resolution "VR entertainment" is directly applicable to remote surgery, VR tele-operation of heavy machinery, and countless other "useful" endeavors.

      I don't doubt that at all...but I DO doubt that Zuck is going to be involved in that. Remote surgery already exists and is already progressing, we've even discussed it here on Soylent []. Remote operation of heavy machinery already exists too. VR might help there, it might not, but if it happens it won't be because of Zuck because that isn't the market he's targeting.

      At best it could be used in those markets as re-purposed hardware, kinda like how PS3s got used for supercomputer clusters...which then got screwed when Sony decided to remove the Other OS option. But it won't be designed for that purpose, so at best it'll be a kludge if it's used that way, and frankly I wouldn't trust a doctor doing surgery using a Facebook gaming device because they won't be designed to the proper standards. This ISN'T something like a supercomputer that's just running calculations; you need near 100% certainty that the VR goggle isn't going to lock up or overheat or crash in the middle of surgery or someone dies. Facebook VR *might* drive down prices for components, but the only reason the Oculus even exists is because mobile phones are already driving down prices for the kinds of components it requires. So I'm not sure how much cost you're going to cut, particularly when you consider that things like medical devices and heavy machinery components carry high costs for compliance, testing, and liability reasons more than just the cost of the raw materials. In that kind of market, parts are cheap, even when they aren't.

      Soo...what, it'll inspire people? It'll popularize the IDEA of VR for such tasks? Hasn't that concept been around for decades already just waiting for the tech to catch up?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 14 2017, @01:07AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 14 2017, @01:07AM (#582112)

      Well, that tech should not run non-free proprietary user-subjugating software. Will Zuck's VR do that, as well as violate the privacy of its useds? Without a single doubt. The tech industry is an unethical abomination that needs to be nuked from orbit.