发布时间:2022-04-08 14:46 阅读次数:
本文摘要:Tech companies have spent years developing better, cheaper devices to immerse people in digital worlds. Yet they are still figuring out how to make virtual reality the kind of technology that people cannot live without.多年来,科技公司仍然致力于研发更佳、更加


Tech companies have spent years developing better, cheaper devices to immerse people in digital worlds. Yet they are still figuring out how to make virtual reality the kind of technology that people cannot live without.多年来,科技公司仍然致力于研发更佳、更加廉价的设备,以便让人们沉浸于在数字世界中。但它们仍然不确切,怎么让虚拟现实沦为那种人们离了就无法生活的技术。

So for inspiration, they are turning to science fiction.这些公司正在无可奈何科幻小说,谋求启发。At Oculus, a leading virtual reality company, a copy of the popular sci-fi novel “Ready Player One” is handed out to new hires. Magic Leap, a secretive augmented reality start-up, has hired science fiction and fantasy writers. The name of Microsoft’s HoloLens headset is a salute to the holodeck, a simulation room from “Star Trek.”在领先的虚拟现实公司Oculus,新入职人员不会接到一本颇受欢迎的科幻小说《一级玩家》(Ready Player One)。谜样的增强现实初创公司Magic Leap早已聘用了科幻小说和幻想作品的作者。微软公司(Microsoft)的HoloLens头显设备的名字,正是向《星际变形金刚》(Star Trek)中的仿真房间全息甲板(holodeck)的缅怀。

“Like many other people working in the tech space, I’m not a creative person,” said Palmer Luckey, 23, a co-founder of Oculus, which was bought by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014. “It’s nice that science fiction exists because these are really creative people figuring out what the ultimate use of any technology might be. They come up with a lot of incredible ideas.”“和科技业的其他很多从业者一样,我不是一个有创新的人,”23岁的帕尔默·勒基(Palmer Luckey)说道。他是2014年被Facebook用20亿美元并购的Oculus的牵头创始人。“有科幻小说不存在是件好事,因为它们的作者知道很有创造力,他们不会想到任何技术可能会有的终极用途。

他们想到了很多不可思议的创新。”Those ideas are especially relevant now, as some of the biggest technology companies are nearing a major push of a new generation of virtual reality products. In the next few months, virtual reality headsets from Oculus, Sony and HTC go on sale. Venture capital money is pouring into the industry.那些创新现在特别是在最重要,因为一些仅次于的科技公司将要大力点评新一代虚拟现实产品。接下来的几个月里,Oculus、索尼(Sony) 和宏达国际电子(HTC)的虚拟现实头显将争相上市。

风投资金正在涌进这个行业。But how people will interact with the imaginary worlds remains largely unknown territory. And that is where science fiction comes in. Science fiction is shaping the language companies are using to market the technology, influencing the types of experiences made for the headsets and even defining long-term goals for developers.但总的来说,人们将如何与虚拟世界对话仍是一个未知领域。而这正是科幻小说的用武之地。

科幻小说于是以影响着科技公司用来促销涉及技术的用语。它们还影响着为耳机设计的体验类型,甚至要求着开发人员的长年目标。“Science fiction, in simplest terms, sets you free,” said Ralph Osterhout, chief executive of the Osterhout Design Group, which builds augmented reality glasses.“非常简单说来,科幻小说能让你权利,”生产增强现实眼镜的公司奥斯特豪特设计集团(Osterhout Design Group)首席执行官拉尔夫·奥斯特豪特(Ralph Osterhout)说道。

Perhaps no fictional work resonates more throughout the industry these days than “Ready Player One,” written by Ernest Cline and now being made into a movie by Steven Spielberg.如今,也许没哪部科幻作品比起《一级玩家》在整个行业引发更加多回响。由欧内斯特·克莱因(Ernest Cline)所著的《一级玩家》现在正在被史蒂文·斯皮尔伯格(Steven Spielberg)改篇成电影。Much of the action in the book takes place inside the Oasis, a global virtual reality network. Characters in the network attend school, socialize and take part in a high-stakes treasure hunt. Through virtual reality, they can inhabit the perspectives of actors in classic movies.书中的大量活动都再次发生在一个叫绿洲(Oasis)的全球虚拟世界网络里。


The book was published in 2011, around the time Mr. Luckey began building an early prototype of the Oculus headset. Mr. Luckey said he appreciated Mr. Cline’s portrayals of characters controlling their avatars through full-body suits rather than plugging “Matrix”-style cables into their brains.该书2011年出版发行。勒基正是在该书出版发行前后开始研发Oculus头显的早期样品的。

勒基说道,他喜爱克莱因的刻画,因为书中的人物是通过覆盖面积全身的衣服,而不是在头上放入《黑客帝国》(Matrix)里那种线缆,来掌控代表自己的角色的。“One of the things I like about ‘Ready Player One’ is all of the depictions in the book are pretty feasible,” Mr. Luckey said. “None of it is crazy, far-out tech.”“我讨厌《一级玩家》的一个地方是,书中所有的刻画都非常不切实际,”勒基说道。“没一个地方说道的是可怕的,遥不可及的技术。

”Oculus gave out 3,000 copies of the book to attendees of an Oculus developer conference last year. For good measure, Oculus named the meeting rooms at its headquarters after famous fictional versions of virtual reality, including the holodeck, the Oasis and the Matrix, from the movie of the same name and, before that, William Gibson’s “Neuromancer.”去年,Oculus放了3000本《一级玩家》给参加Oculus开发者会议的人。此外,Oculus他用著名科幻作品中的虚拟现实系统命名其总部的会议室,还包括全息甲板、绿洲和来自电影《黑客帝国》的母体,以及早的一部科幻小说——威廉·吉布森(William Gibson)的《神经漫游者》。


Mr. Cline said he wrote “Ready Player One” partly because he could not figure out why virtual reality had not taken off in the real world.克莱因说道,他之所以不会写出《一级玩家》,有一部分原因是想不通为什么虚拟现实还没在现实世界中流行起来。“I think that was the same impulse that drove Palmer,” said Mr. Cline, who has visited Oculus several times to speak to employees. “Growing up with ‘Neuromancer’ and Max Headroom, it had the same effect on me as a writer as it did on businesspeople.”“我实在驱动帕尔默的也是这同一种力量,”克莱因说道。他曾经来Oculus,给这里的员工做到演说。

“读书着《神经漫游者》和看著《超级麦克斯》(Max Headroom)长大,对我这样一个作家的影响,和对商人是一样的。”Techies do not need any encouragement from their employers to read or watch science fiction, long a pillar of geek culture. Throw a rock in Silicon Valley and you are likely to hit a software engineer who can cite how long it took the Millennium Falcon to make the Kessel Run in “Star Wars.” (Less than 12 parsecs, according to Han Solo, whose use of a term for distance — one parsec equals about 3.26 light-years — rather than time has been the subject of entire articles.) The genre has influenced many corners of technology, from smartphones to robotics to space exploration.科技人士压根不必须雇员希望他们读者科幻小说和看科幻电影,长久以来,他们仍然是极客文化的中坚力量。在硅谷,你随意扔一块石子,都有可能扔中一个可以讲出《星球大战》里的千年隼号(Millennium Falcon)用多长时间跑完克赛尔航程(Kessel Run)的软件工程师。

(据汉·索罗[Han Solo]谈,这个时间是将近12秒差距——一秒差距大约相等于3.26光年,他用于的是一个叙述距离而非时间的词汇,这个在以前曾是一些文章整篇谈论的主题。)科幻题材的作品对各个技术领域都产生了影响,不管是智能手机、机器人,还是太空探寻。

But there is something unique about the interplay between science fiction and virtual reality, a technology that is essentially an instrument for fooling people into believing they are someplace — and often someone — they are not. Virtual reality is a medium, like television or video games, that can borrow liberally from the virtual worlds experienced by fictional characters.但科幻作品与虚拟现实之间的相互影响,却有一些独有之处。虚拟现实技术实质上是一种愚弄人的手法,让人误以为自己置身于其他某个地方,而且经常具备另一个身份。虚拟现实是一个媒介,就像电视或电子游戏,可以从虚构人物所处的虚拟世界中给定借出各种元素。

Magic Leap, based in Dania Beach, Fla., and which counts Google as one of its big investors, has gone even further than most companies by hiring three science fiction and fantasy writers on staff. Its most famous sci-fi recruit is Neal Stephenson, who depicted the virtual world of the Metaverse in his seminal 1992 novel “Snow Crash.”总部在佛罗里达州约尼亚滩的Magic Leap尝试的行径,比大多数公司都更进一步,该公司雇用了三名科幻和幻想作家。这家公司的大型投资者中还包括谷歌(Google)。该公司在科幻领域最知名的聘用行径就是雇下尼尔·斯蒂芬森(Neal Stephenson),后者在1992年的卓越小说《雪崩》(Snow Crash)中刻画了称为“超元域”(Metaverse)的虚拟世界。

In an interview, Mr. Stephenson — whose title is chief futurist — declined to say what he was working on at Magic Leap, describing it as one of several “content projects” underway at the company.在一次专访中,兼任“首席未来学家”职务的斯蒂芬森拒绝接受透漏他在Magic Leap公司正在做到些什么,只是说道那是该公司展开的若干项“内容项目”中的一个。More broadly, Mr. Stephenson said science fiction books and movies are often useful within tech companies for rallying employees around a shared vision.斯蒂芬森较为明确地说道,在科技公司里,科幻小说和电影经常有助用一个联合的愿景汇聚员工。


“My theory is that science fiction can actually have some value in that it gets everyone on the same page without the kind of expensive and tedious process of PowerPoint,” he said. But the influence of the genre within tech companies is “surprising and mysterious to me as well,” he added.“我的理论是,科幻小说实质上具备一定价值,因为它能让所有人都有完全一致的解读,而不用使用那种又费钱又乏味的讲很多PPT的过程,”他说道。但这种文学题材在科技企业内部的影响力,他补足道,“对我来说也是非常让人吃惊,非常谜样的。”There is a regular theme in science fiction that its fans in tech talk less about, though: the dystopian aspects of virtual reality. Addiction, disconnection from relationships in the real world and alienation from the environment are often side effects in narratives about virtual reality. It’s hard to make that into a selling point for the technology.但是科幻小说中一个经常经常出现的主题,在科技企业的粉丝当中谈论得却没那么多:虚拟现实技术也有鼓吹乌托邦的特性。


“Entrepreneurs are optimistic and upbeat by nature, which is why I enjoy hanging around with them,” Mr. Stephenson said. “They’ve got an admirable ability to completely ignore the more dystopian elements you’re talking about and see the cool stuff and positive potential of where it might go.”“创业者天生就是悲观、向下的,所以我讨厌和他们做事,”斯蒂芬森说道。“他们具备一种让人讨厌的能力,可以几乎忽略你讲的这些更为反乌托邦的元素,看见傻的东西和它未来南北的大力潜力。”Of course, authors and moviemakers get to overlook details of their own — like the tough technological challenges that real tech companies face.当然,作者和电影人自己也不会忽视一些细节,比如确实的科技企业必须面临的艰难的技术挑战。“You never have to reboot the damned thing” in sci-fi books, said Genevieve Bell, a cultural anthropologist who works at Intel and has written about the interplay between technology and science fiction. “The mechanics are less interesting to most science fiction writers than the experience.”在科幻小说里“总有一天都不必须重新启动那个斩玩意儿,”吉纳维芙·贝尔(Genevieve Bell)说道。

“对多数科幻作家来说,原理机制不如那种体验有意思。”贝尔是文化人类学家,曾在英特尔(Intel)工作,编写过关于科技与科幻相互影响的著作。Sometimes science fiction plants seeds in the minds of inventors that take years to sprout. The holographic chess game that Chewbacca played on a tabletop aboard the Millennium Falcon was pretty far-out in the 1970s, when Jeri Ellsworth saw it in the original “Star Wars.” It took several decades before technology caught up.有时候,科幻作品能在发明家头脑里植下种子,再行经过很多年才能兴起。

1970年代,杰瑞·埃尔斯沃斯(Jeri Ellsworth)看见楚巴卡(Chewbacca)在千年隼号里的桌子上玩的全息国际象棋,当时还实在非常落后。过了几十年后,技术才跟上。

In 2013, Ms. Ellsworth’s start-up, CastAR, gave the first public demonstration of the company’s augmented reality glasses, which overlay digital imagery on the user’s view of the real world.在2013年,埃尔斯沃斯的创业公司CastAR首次公开发表展出了该公司的增强现实眼镜,它能在用户看见的现实世界之上覆盖面积一层数字图像。By now, the experience shown in the demonstration should come as no surprise — the glasses enabled the person wearing them to play a holographic chess game on a tabletop.现在,展出中获取的体验应当会让人深感吃惊——戴着上眼镜后,配戴者就可以在桌面上玩游戏全息国际象棋游戏了。“It’s something I’ve been dreaming about my entire life,” Ms. Ellsworth said.“这是我梦想了一辈子的事情,”埃尔斯沃斯说道。



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