Up to a few decades ago to overcome the concepts of time and space it was necessary to resort to science fiction with its teleporters, time machines, or stargates. Then, in the last quarter of the last century, we started talking about augmented reality, placing the technology in a future that seemed very distant at the time and which today is the normality of the present. In fact, with the current level of innovation, man can already manipulate space and time at will and afterward, decontextualizing experience and phenomena. With laser sensor cameras already available, three-dimensional scenes can be filmed, transmitted at a distance, and reprojected elsewhere with 3D printed particles of light.
We can therefore already imagine meeting rooms where humans will interact with holograms, in a hybrid three-dimensionality of sound and space not possible today with two-dimensional screens. We are moving quickly towards a sort of “avatar economy”, where each of us will unleash one or more instances of himself around the various meta worlds with the task of exploring, learning, communicating, socializing, selling, and buying. It will be a systematic shift of part of the human experience into what has been called the “metaverse“. With a little anxiety, a not too distant future can also be envisaged in which artificial intelligence will be able to reconstruct not only the facial features but also the personality of a deceased person, with algorithms that learn about the person from preserved videos, from photos, from the writings, from memories of relatives, thus recovering not only physical appearance, the timbre of voice and gestures, but also thought and cultural contents. In short, there will be, at some point, immortality in the avatar.
It is a prospect that begins to take shape quickly, as compelling as it is disturbing. And it is probably an inevitable prospect because today, thanks to technologies, we know how to do many things but, due to technologies, we no longer know how to stop the acceleration. All this will introduce profound economic, anthropological, sociological, and psychological changes in no time.
Before the metaverse that will come, we are already witnessing a phenomenon of rapid abandonment of physical coexistence as a fundamental and essential requirement of doing business, with many new companies that are born remote and never have or will never have a physical headquarters, and existing companies that are questioning on the so-called “future of work“, so about the adoption of artificial intelligence in the workplace, and the expansion of the workforce to include off-balance-sheet staff.
So we ask ourselves, does human experience exist outside of a predetermined space and time? To this question, Immanuel Kant replied no. Space and time, argued the philosopher, are pure forms of human sensitivity and precede it. They are, to use the philosophical jargon, “a priori”. But did Kant refer exclusively to a physical space and a perceptible time? Probably, from what he was able to foresee at the time, I would say yes.