There's a lot of really thought-provoking stuff going on in Dean's article dealing predominantly with avatars and VR spaces, and the potential directions they could combine to take over the coming years.
While the ethical conundrums around hyper-real VR avatars of loved-ones 'living on' after death is genuinely fascinating, it's just how close we are to new models of engagement for the cultural space which jumps out at me.
First off is perhaps the 'obvious' opportunities for museums and other cultural sites to bring the stories they're telling to life using VR. I will always, always stress when I talk about this, that VR for VR's sake would 9 times out of 10 do more harm than good in such spaces. But the possibility of taking your avatar for a stroll through a thoughtfully created and narratively coherent reimagining of Revolutionary France, or Da Vinci's workshop, is undeniably exciting.
Second are the possibilities for creating avatars specifically for the cultural space, something I don't think has been explored in particular detail up till now. In an age where pre- and post-visit visitor experience is a big deal for so many institutions, personalised avatars which can 'exist' in the digital spaces associated with them, which users could dip in and out of is a tantalising avenue for exploration.
We talk about Artificial Intelligence and automation stealing jobs from the rest of us but they'll be freeing up precious time for us to be more productive in other key areas. What if we use AI to deliver immortality? Sounds far-fetched, but it isn't.