In this short article, we will expose some positives consequences of a massive use of Virtual Reality.
Virtual Reality: Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user as an entirely simulated reality. Currently, this is accessible with helmet, gloves, and a good internet connexion. This video show an incredible project using Virtual Reality.
Energy consumption: We'll use US publicly available statistics to illustrate the lighting energy consumption schema. According to this study (p. 13), the commercial sector is the first consumer of energy for lighting, then the residential sector, then the outdoor lighting, and finally the industrial sector. In Europe (few statistics are available on this matter), the average energy household consumption for lighting is around 10% according to this study (p.73).
Light pollution: Electric lights have revolutionized our lives, but as illumination increases, the toll on wildlife and human health is becoming harder to ignore: it endanger the ecosystem, alter the biochemical rhythms, and hide to night sky from ourselves.
The idea of this article is to state that in a world where Virtual Reality would be massively used, a great part of our physical energy utilization would become obsolete — because these uses of energies could move inside the digital medium
Lighting would be no more needed as it could be directly done inside the Virtual Reality. For example, imagine that you are driving a car with VR (assuming manual cars still exist), the road could light itself inside your VR, same for your home or commercial building...
We could go further, by saying that sounds could be also directly proposed inside the VR, depending on requirements and one's choices.
For example, in a street, only pedestrians and drivers would have to hear firefighter, police, or ambulance siren (not the inhabitants).
This could help reduce global energy consumption, but also decrease our light and noise pollution.
On a side note, regarding Fermi Paradox explanations, if the superpredator hypothesis is true (which state that an intelligent species beyond a certain point of technological capability will destroy other intelligent species as they appear), a global use of this technology as described could make it possible to remove a part of our terrestrial visual signature.
Thus constituting a layer of protection (but the atmospheric and radio signature would still remain).
Open to thoughts:
This project could be tested in private, then in a open place, such as an experimental bar. This could eventually be useful for space colonies too, in an attempt to reduce energy consumption.
To avoid deviant or instrumentalized uses of this project by third party, the underlying technology should be a quantum network, which would guarantee the inviolability of the connection (see: Applications) — drastically decreasing the risk of piracy (hacking).
In my own view this potential future is clearly a dystopia: where is nature? If we have to go this way to reduce our global energy consumption this would be a proof of our civilizational development failure as an intelligent specie.
Finally, keep in mind that I try to build potential solutions for our current problems with the disponible technological and social landscape, even if it is ─ put your adjective here.