The Dreamland Bar, Slave Island. Homeless man underneath.
In predicting the future (which I kinda suck at, but you don’t know that yet), it helps to think of stupid problems. What are problems so stupid that someone, somewhere must think of a solution to them? For example, transport. A Swedish study found that “couples in which one partner commutes for longer than 45 minutes are 40 percent likelier to divorce.” This is a stupid problem. What’s to be done about it?
There are a couple of obvious options:
1. Work From Home
You can work from home. A lot of people do this now. The disadvantages are that it’s sometimes harder to work with other people. You can’t drop by someone’s desk, you aren’t motivated to stay late cause everyone else is there, all those subtle human cues that are worth so much. Those problems can all be technically solved, however, perhaps through gamification of the same objectives. As in, offer badges or high scores for doing the behaviors that make a physical office run, and make those behaviors more natural through better user interfaces, video-conferencing, whatever.
What, however, about things you kinda need to do in the same physical space? Negotiating deals, drinking with clients, overseeing construction. These can all be combined with business travel, taking you away for much longer than 45 minutes. What do you do then?
2. Home From Work
The traditional respite from this separation is calling or Skypeing home. In terms of the tangibles of a healthy relationship, however, this often reminds you of how much you’re missing. You can’t relax or lounge or have sex, and at the end of the day you’re still alone in a hotel room. What if, however you could have a much more tangible experience of being back home, or of being anywhere with the people you care about?
Inception had it right in drawing on lucid dreaming. When it comes to Virtual Reality, your brain already is the best equipment possible, and we go to hyper-realistic places ever night. What if you could lucid dream that you were back home, and consensually hallucinate whatever or wherever with your loved ones? Hence you could be a thousand miles away but still tangibly be with your homies, as if in a dream.
At some point, however, these two concepts mix. If you can work from home or home from work with almost equal ease, then what do you do? Do you virtual dream into work – using your brain’s computational power for an awesome virtual office – or do you virtual dream home – going on some Bollywood escapade with your wife. When everything feels real, where are you, really?