Whatever idea the philosopher had of reality, his vision of a glass was no different from that of the butcher.
According to Buddhism, the reality is just an illusion; according to idealism, the reality is the product of the subject; according to constructivism and sociology of knowledge, the reality is actively and socially constructed. Nevertheless, none of these theories had ever changed the way the barber saw his scissors or the writer saw his pen.
Humans imitated and challenged reality with the arts trying to represent it, transfiguring, and imagining a new one, but nobody disputed its ontological supremacy.
In late capitalism, we witness a change. In the beginning, capitalism found its market within the realm of reality, trying to produce, reproduce, and replicate the reality following its rules but with the saturation of demand, the increased costs of production, and the development of technologies, the reality itself becomes a possible product and a possible market.
Since reality is not given, but socially constructed, it can be, through the improvement of the individual’s tools, augmented, reshaped, adapted, transformed, and even replaced.
The new forms of reality are grouped in what is called Extended Reality which includes Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality.
These new realities change the way we understand human beings and reality.
The reality we perceive provides us with information that allows us to survive in the evolutionary context in which we have developed, but with the acceleration of social processes, the information that can be received from it increases, and the most significant reality for the social life of the individual is no more the ‘natural’ reality. In the new social context, the post-human can be more interested in the price of an object, its past, or its future rather than what its senses show him, or rather he can be interested in experiencing with senses what it is already in his domain.
If man’s actions reach any part of the planet almost instantly, he expects reality to provide information on distant men, things, and facts.
Objects built in the past had almost all the information necessary for their use and consumption. The warrior often knew personally who had forged his sword and could ask him anything he wanted to know about it. The construction of a car, a smartphone, and even a pencil (Milton Friedman’s pencil) is made from an enormous quantity of pieces, coming from all over the world. The reality of the pencil in front of our eyes cannot provide us with all that information. It could be said that man has created a complex society and is now in a position to be able to perceive it in its complex reality. The extended reality represents the possibility of man to perceive the world he has created.
We can distinguish three types of consequences of the extended reality.
Consequences on human health, society, and human ontology.
It seems that extended reality has several effects on health such as nausea, depression, eyestrain, and addiction, to name a few. However, much more serious are the social, anthropological, and ontological ones.
- With the same number of men and the same time available, men will have to feed two realities. An increase in time, energy, investment, and care for the extended reality will correspond to a decline in each of them in the traditional reality.
- Since the extended reality is designed to meet the needs of the post-human, the traditional reality will eventually be conceived as a function of it. A person that spends 10 hours in the extended reality does not have hesitation to pay more for a virtual car or a virtual house rather than for real ones. In the end, people will work in the traditional reality to improve their lives in the extended one.
- If the extended reality replaces the traditional reality, the simple contact with reality, the simple existence, will depend on access to the platform and its rules, probably controlled by private individuals and outside of the democratic context.
- If men are social animals because they live in society and are shaped by it, even more so, we can say that they are shaped by the reality in which they live, and If this reality changes drastically, men risk finding themselves in an ontological vacuum.
The new reality can be the biggest business of the future. Whoever will be able to reach the monopoly of the new world will be the new God because in what there is in between selling products in a given reality to selling the reality itself, there is maybe the biggest shift in human history.