Hardly, a day goes by without a new claim promising to bring us towards the Metaverse in the not too-distant future.
Meta (the company previously known as Facebook) and Microsoft are both pushing virtual reality worlds and staking the future in their multibillion-dollar businesses on our receptiveness to the idea.
Vodafone is expecting that smart gadgets could monitor our health or even our brains by 2030.
And Elon Musk has claimed his Neuralink technology can be able to help human beings with paralysis walk and allow everybody to upload their memories to the cloud within the decade.
On listening to about this, a number of us will sense sheer excitement – however others will sense unsure, uneasy or downright opposed.
Our habit in latest history has been to shun or scorn people with misgivings on technological progress. It can be time to re-examine that.
There has been a backlash to technology since historic records began.
Every new form of communication from telegram to telephone and beyond, has attracted criticism for rising the pace of life.
Novels had been condemned for ruining attention spans, and those once feared that cars travelling at 20-30 miles consistent with hour would possibly deprive their passengers of oxygen, possibly fatally.
In hindsight, the contemporary resistance to technological advancement may seem like sheer madness, but it often isn’t.
For example, the Luddites, the destroyers of mill machinery at the start of the Industrial Revolution, are commonly referred to as a historical punchline.
However, if we look at their real grievances, this was no naïve anti-progress movement; it was about economics.
Cotton mills replaced skilled, independent work with less-skilled or even unskilled work in insecure conditions in a factory, accompanied by far less autonomy and far less pay.
The mill might more efficient and therefore more profitable, but it would have taken decades of campaigning to distribute those profits equitably, with the birth of trade union movement, health and safety laws, welfare state and more.
Seen through this prism, was the resistance really that irrational?
If we look at the latest hype cycle, while Cryptocurrency and the Metaverse advocates would like to portray sceptics as just rooted in the past, at least some doubts are well-founded.
There are many reasons to be wary of the next wave of technology. One is simply whether the technologies in question are where they are supposed to be.
Musk, in particular, has a habit of over-promising, whether it’s travel to Mars, ultra-high-speed trains, or self-driving cars. Some in the know take their claims about Neuralink seriously.
Other upcoming Metaverse technologies rely on virtual reality, which still largely consists of clunky headsets and weird arm controls, all just to let you maneuver an avatar through an awkward online world.
Virtual reality has been “the next big thing” for decades, and the public has always felt the opposite: There’s not much to do when you’re there, the technology makes a lot of people dizzy and, perhaps most problematically, it all seems hopelessly silly.
Outside of a relatively small group of enthusiasts, health tracking hasn’t surprised the general public, not least because many consumers are concerned about what’s happening with their data.
More widely, while many of us love the thought of uploading our minds one day, others feel an innate horror at blurring such boundaries.
There’s a lot to expect as we bridge the online and offline worlds. But neither should we learn not to ignore or warn against concerns. There are many rational reasons for people to get involved in Techlash.