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Ready Player One – what Oculus + FB will look like? (wikipedia.org)
31 points by malanj on March 26, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 16 comments

Highly doubtful, unless you're sarcastically implying that FB's implementation will end up as a Disney-esque world that's obsessed about a generation long past and of little relevance 60 years in the future. If so, you might be onto something.

Ready Player One was a fun read but ultimately a Willy Wonka type of story - impractical and its explanations of the actual VR implementation were questionable at best (or omitted entirely? I don't remember exactly, since my only impression at the time was that it was trivial).

For better ideas on how a virtual world could work, including reasonable hard science to back up claims, read Snow Crash (Stephenson), True Names (Vinge), or Rainbow's End (Vinge) instead. After that, you will quickly realize why many VR purists absolutely detest Oculus's acquisition.

As a side note, I distinctly remember Oculus PR in the past claiming they were "building the Metaverse" a la Snow Crash, but I guess they quickly jumped ship to Ready Player One's image instead. Makes sense, seeing as how spoiler alert the fictional monopoly that develops optical hardware in Snow Crash ends up completely corrupt and a perfect example of Schumpeter's classic theories on economics and innovation. I guess Oculus pictures their future selves to be enlightened, benevolent multibillionaires like Og in Ready Player One. Unfortunately, with FB in the mix and the choices Oculus has made, seems like Stephenson's vision is much much more relevant.

Think of education. Right now there is a great demand for video-courses. We have people looking at medium res video's and teatchers explaning and answering questions via email or skyper-sessions. Should 3D work as in Ready Player One (loved the book), why not sign in online in a 3D classroom? Or login to a pre-recorded 3D session? Make notes, highlight

> We have people looking at medium res video

Given we can't even afford high res video wouldn't 3D be meaningless :)

It's not a 3D problem, it a lot of other things problem. Cost of teachers, creating environments that give automated re-enforcement. Making students actually learn / turn up.

Fiction often glosses over this bit. Ready Player One was really about kick ass AI / bandwidth needed to make the environments work. Computer games are already at graphic limits. It's just taking to many people to create their environments. There was an example article on HN this week. Can't find link.

> Given we can't even afford high res video wouldn't 3D be meaningless :)

It depends... How abstract is the picture you're going to transfer? The mid/low res video of the teacher would take a lot more bandwidth than a static texture + moving model. (or even partial static/dynamic texture for the body/face, as long as we don't hit the uncanny valley problem) Video with someone drawing a graph would take more b/w than the actual 3d model of the same graph.

I would not describe the real world in Ready Player One as Disney-esque. It was pretty awful, including a great number of people essentially being slaves working for mega corporations.

The main company involved in the VR world was completely corrupt as well, not full of enlightened billionaires.

In comparison to a future where ominous mind control is possible through AR/VR, or a virus is created that not only renders you a vegetable but also transcends virtual reality (and is wielded by a vengeful psychopath that has an atomic bomb attached to him that triggers upon his death), or basically any other classic cyberpunk dystopia, I think it's fair to describe Ready Player One's Easter Egg hunt as Disney-esque... almost like comparing Aladdin to 1984.

But since we're nitpicking anyway, "the main company" you're speaking of had nothing to do with the creation of OASIS; that was simply an external multinational corporation that controlled the global ISP and sought to gain control of the virtual world by finding some treasure left by the initial creator.

More importantly however, my main point is that Oculus's position now is more along the lines of the evil mega-corp owner in Snow Crash, who monopolized (and was probably the first to commoditize) the optical framework with which to access the virtual world. This form of dinosaur-seeks-survival-through-any-means-necessary scenario is not only plausible, but I believe that Stephenson meant it as a prophetic warning for those who are responsible in bringing about the virtual age.

And given the sudden shift in Oculus PR's public citations of sci-fi influences, I suspect that they realize that in context to Stephenson's novel, they are actually starting to walk down the path of the evil dictator, not the benevolent enlightened one.

In any case, I firmly believe that our virtual world should be ushered in as decentralized and hacker-friendly as possible. Open-sourced with a blockchain perhaps, and localized open-sourced hardware to boot.

While we're at comparing to books, if FB tries to join Oculus with "social", I'd probably go with the castle basement from Walking on Glass:

[giant field of people with their heads in ceiling holes / helmets] "Each of these people is inside the head of a human being from the past [...] these have chosen to live out what time they have left as parasites, in the minds of others in forgotten times. They experience what others have experienced, they even have the illusion of altering the past, so that they seem to exercise free will, and apparently influence what their hosts do. It is to delay death, to turn to something like a drug, to turn away from reality, to refuse to face one's own defeat. I have heard it said that this is better than nothing, but... [...] Well, the castle feeds all the people you see, at any rate. They're eased out of the head-hole and given a bowl to sup from; they sit there with empty eyes, as though asleep, drink or sup, then like zombies go back to their own little world again. Their wastes are taken away in the same trains."

I read it last week. While I enjoyed it, at times it seemed almost like a Da Vinci Code of teenage scifi, and sported an enormous namedrop of culture pop memes for advancing the plot...

I liked all the 80s movie and video game stuff in the book. Though I think most of it would have been like ancient history, rather than pop culture, to the teenage readers the book is aimed at.

I found the weakest parts of the book to be the endless nerd pop culture references. The parts that dealt with the consequences of VR, identity, and withdrawal from society were great, but it felt like it was all wrapped in a self-conscious veneer of "hey, you recognize this nerd reference, right?" as if the author felt that the ideas couldn't stand on their own.

Only in this version, the corporation behind the evil "Sixers" buys the OASIS before it ever launches corrupting the VR world to their corporate ends.

Or at least, that's what a lot of the commenters on HN, Reddit, etc. appear to believe.

Great book, Warner Bros. owns the rights, expect it any summer now.

It actually is in development already.

This is one of the first things I thought of when I heard the announcement, but not in a good way.

Exactly, just as if IOL bought out the Oasis headgear rights well before the Oasis really launched.

Zuck is pretty much the antithesis of the James Haliday character from the book.

Yes - even for a mostly teenager aimed book, I found the dystopian future a bit jarring.

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