Spatial dissonance and the Californication of life

Today I sat at my HP monitor at work eating my lunch watching the latest Apple Developer Conference announcements mesmerised by the tech-bro future that lay ahead of us, partially immersed with my AirPods™ in and the volume cranked up high as the inefficient 1970’s aircon in my work office laboured to keep me warm. Oh what sights I see of a warmer future!

Let’s be clear. It’ll be warmer simply because of the warming atmosphere not because I’ve finally mastered the art of staying cosy in the winter months in Australia. And it may be warmer because instead of sitting inert at my desk, I’ll be standing and gesturing (pinching and swiping) in the office space around me, taking calls on the go as I walk from room-to-room. For this is the future foretold by the Apple Vision Pro™ product launch.

The Vision Pro has been in development over the last couple of years and is set to be launched in the United States in first quarter 2024. It has a whopping price tag (US$3499) which will put it out of reach of many household for the next five years until the price comes down as manufacturing and development mature. The mixed reality headset is a device packing in a number of technologies – processor and display chips to give unrivalled performance; surround sound; visionOS which gives a familiar iOS/macOS interface but with gestural, eye and voice-tracking capability – to create what Apple is called ‘spatial computing’.

We’ll park the tech adoration for one moment. Instead, consider the Black Mirror-esque launch film that trailered the product launch. In the proximate Apple future, we’ll be seamlessly editing our life-highlights in image and video whilst we simultaneously (and mutely) traverse our real-world environments, with the occasional interruption from a RealLife™ friend or family member who will still (just about) be able to see our eyes as we glare at them in a partial daze as we try to multitask our way through a remixed reality and try to avoid tripping over the coffee table.

Is this the life we want to live? Is this what the majority of us need in our lives? Just how much of those critical minerals are going to be extracted so that the privileged few get to spatially compute their way to further wealth creation (and information overload)?

I’ve seen numerous blogposts on LinkedIn congratulating Apple for reinvigorating the AR/VR industry. No doubt, tech-bros across the planet will be damp with anticipation and awe at the revenue opportunities presented by the (not-so-new but not-so-necessary) interface paradigm.

2023 is the year of AI. When AI became real. When we realised that humans are simply not as essential as we pretend we are. 2024, properly Apple Vision Pro’ed, will become the year we are finally tethered to the machine for good.

Please, stop this madness.

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