The scenes in the fictional town of Springfield that eerily resemble an episode of the famous American series. Have they prophetically announced the era of virtual reality and its pitfalls as well? During the second episode of season 28 aired in 2016, the inhabitants of Springfield are seen wandering the streets, all equipped with virtual reality headsets.
The character of Mr. Burns is shown bumping into a lamppost and an elderly woman falling into a sewer. Today’s situations are surprising but also, unfortunately, dangerous. People with headsets seem to be typing on an invisible keyboard.
In another similar scene, still in a Tesla, the driver ends up being stopped by suspicious policemen. On an American subway, a young man is also engrossed as if in front of his computer screen. The fellow passengers around him do not seem to be particularly surprised.
Then there’s a scene showing two friends having lunch next to each other, lost in their own virtual reality, without exchanging a single glance. Humans and non-humans alike. In a street, a man is photographed with the new Apple device.
Holding a controller, he guides a robot dog walking beside him, as if he’s walking man’s best friend, now in its 2.0 version. As Apple explicitly states in its user’s guide, the device is meant for use in a “controlled environment”. The guide advises users to “always be aware of your surroundings and position while using” it.
Though the use in a vehicle is obviously prohibited, the American company even provides recommendations for domestic use. “Do not use it on stairs, on a balcony, on rails, near glass, near mirrors, near objects that may cause harm, near heat sources, or near windows.” We wouldn’t want to end up like in “The Simpsons,” with our head in a pole or our feet at the bottom of a sewer.
Or fundamentally isolated from each other, lost in a virtual reality world.