Zuckerberg: It’ll be a decade before virtual reality becomes mainstream

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I’m sure by now you’ve seen the photo of Mark Zuckerberg grinning as he walks through a crowd of people rendered mindless by the irresistible escapism provided by the virtual reality headsets that’re strapped to their faces. Whether or not that was an accurate description really depends on how you interpret the photo, but even if you don’t get an Orwellian vibe from it, it’s easy to see why some people are concerned. Zuckerberg dismissed those concerns in recent interview with Die Welt, a popular German newspaper, saying that people are always wary of new mediums, and that people will come to embrace virtual reality once it becomes mainstream. As for when that’ll be, Zuckerberg believes it’ll be at least ten years before virtual reality really becomes mainstream.

You’ve probably seen the picture: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walking down the aisle with a huge satisfied smile on his face as a sea of seated people wearing Samsung Gear VR headsets are completely unaware of his appearance. Many felt the photo was disturbingly Orwellian and a dark sign of what’s to come if we let virtual reality become mainstream and isolate us from reality with addictive experiences that we won’t be able to resist. In a new interview with the German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag Zuckerberg denied “enjoying” the fact that he was seemingly commanding this so-called “VR army” and went on to set the facts straight. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” Zuckerberg told Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of Axel Springer, parent company of the paper. “The exact opposite is the case. What was going inside the headsets was a video of children playing soccer in some faraway place. You could look around and you could see the kids playing soccer around you and it was a shared experience with everyone in that place that would have been impossible [to] experience otherwise.” Zuckerberg also said he wasn’t worried about VR’s isolated experiences making people become less social because “humans are fundamentally social.” “You could probably go all the way back to the first books,” Zuckerberg added. “I bet people said ‘why should you read when you could talk to other people?’ The point of reading is that you get to deeply immerse yourself in a person’s perspective. Right? Same thing with newspapers or phones or TVs. Soon it will be VR, I bet.”

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