Occasionally a new technology dramatically reduces the cost of something that has been expensive for a long time. When this happens, tremendous change follows. Gutenberg’s low-cost printing press, trains dramatic lowering of transportation costs, the telegraph, the internet… each revolutionized the world.
One thing many of us thought the internet would do is make physical meetings a thing of the past. But it turns out that even in the heart of Silicon Valley, in-person meetings are invaluable. There is something about being in person that comes from reading body language and being able to do so over drinks.
This constraint dramatically limits people’s economic options. They generally must move to the physical location where lots of other people in their sector live & work. They must spend a lot of money to travel to trade shows just to be in physical proximity to potential business partners/vendors/customers.
So what happens when virtual reality becomes nearly as high fidelity as real life, allowing for seamless body language communication, and about as expensive as a cable TV subscription? If we could attend meetings , even virtual bars, where the experience was nearly life-like, where body language and voice tone queues would be communicated as subconsciously as they are now… would we no longer need to meet in person? Would we be free to live where we want vs where we need to be to stay connected to a local network? Would it dramatically reduce the value of cities?