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The Apple Vision Wager

Two visions for the future.

June 8th, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Ian Harber

Not long ago, Apple unveiled its first new flagship product since 2015, Apple Vision Pro. Like many, I watched Apple present the new Mixed Reality headset with a mixture of awe and revulsion. On the one hand, it’s some of the most incredible technology I have ever seen. It’s unbelievable that this kind of technology even exists. It’s the most futuristic thing I have ever seen. We really are living in a sci-fi movie.

On the other hand, I couldn’t help but have a pit in my stomach as I watched the presentation. Whenever they were focusing on the technology, it felt simply magical. But when they would focus the camera on the people using the technology, something seemed horribly wrong.

Here are some screenshots, for example.

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A close-up of someone’s eye with work icons in their retina.

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Having a conversation with someone, looking through the headset, showing a projection of your eyes, and a cord for the battery down the back.

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Someone meditating wearing the headset using augmented reality.

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A dad looking at his kid throwing him a soccer ball through an augmented overlay of his email.

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A dad watching his kids play while wearing the headset to capture 3D memories.

Do you see what I mean? The technology is miles beyond anything Meta has ever put out (Apple never once used the word “metaverse”). But seeing it in use on actual people is uncanny.

Our New Hybrid Lives

When Tim Cook first announced the Vision Pro, “Vision Pro is a new kind of computer that augments reality by seamlessly blending the real world with the digital world.” Cook is right in his conception of this reality. Our physical and digital lives are becoming more integrated by the year. The pandemic exacerbated this by sending workers and students home, keeping family members and friends from each other, and causing us all to rely more on technology for life and connection than ever before. We haven’t returned to normal. It has become the new normal.

Just in my circle of friends, most of the guys I know work remote or hybrid jobs. I took a fully remote job last year too, after a job that went hybrid throughout the pandemic. The physical and digital aspects of our lives really are blending, and I’m afraid that’s not going to change. We’re going to live with increasingly more technology, not less. The real question is, how will we live with that technology?

There’s a vision of technology that sees tech’s role as being a background assistant that helps us accomplish our day-to-day tasks easier. That’s what artificial intelligence is doing. Using Large Language Models, AI learns your behavior patterns and adds it to the accumulated knowledge available on the internet in order to make tasks more efficient and serve as a personal assistant to you.

Then there’s the vision of Meta and Apple Vision, where technology is in the foreground, augmenting your physical reality, and becoming an actual part of your body.

These are very different visions of the future. I don’t think it will be the case that one wins and the other loses, but more that they will run parallel to each other, and the adoption of one vs. the other will be just as philosophical as practical. How much technology can we adopt before we begin to feel its dehumanizing effects?

Dehumanizing Technology

I’m afraid we’re already feeling it. Our generational mental health crisis—particularly as it affects teen girls—is now understood to be largely due to increased social media usage. Gen Z is starting to lead the way in reducing their technology use in order to improve their mental health, their social relationships, and to opt-out of surveillance technology, as evidenced by things like The Luddite Club.

Not a single person owns an Apple Vision yet, and we’re already feeling society collapse under the weight of the technology that we do have. Our lives already feel mediated by screens. And these are screens that we can put in our pockets or close at the end of the work day. Now we’re being asked to put a postage-stamp-sized screen inches away from both of our eyes and have digital reality overlayed on top of actual reality. Am I looking at you? A video? A basketball game? A movie? An email or text? I guess you’ll never know! I don’t have to choose anymore, I can look at it all at once.

Of course, Apple Vision is a first-generation product. It has an embarrassingly short battery life of 2 hours and is far too bulky to use outside of your home or office (or home office). But what about the next-gen three years from now that’s halve the size and weight? And then the gen after that, where they halve the size again? We’re not being asked to put our phones down. We’re being asked to become our phones.

Cheap Stock Alert

Will we adopt technology like Apple Vision? I have no idea. Even as I write all of the negativity I just wrote about… I still kind of want one. It’s so darn cool. How could you not want to at least experience it? It’s a marvel that it’s even possible. Some people are more pessimistic than me, but I think as headsets like Apple Vision shrink in both size and price, we’ll see more widespread adoption.

In her new groundbreaking book, Generations, Jean M. Twenge writes about Millennials,

In a 2019 poll, 22% of Millennials said they had no friends—compared to only 9% of Boomers. Perhaps as a result, 30% of Millennials said they often or always felt lonely, compared to 15% of Boomers.

That was before the pandemic. We’re not just in a mental health crisis; we’re in a loneliness epidemic. Just ask the U.S. Surgeon General. If there has ever been time to buy stock in physical community, it’s right now. Because supply is at an all-time low, and we’re about to see a massive upswing in demand.

Buying stock looks like going to church. It looks like having friends over for dinner. It’s going to that event downtown and inviting someone to go with you. It looks like starting a book club. It’s using technology to supplement IRL community, not replace it. It’s putting your phone down when someone is talking to you. It’s being 10% more vulnerable in the next conversation than you were in the last one.

The stock is cheap, but it will pay dividends. And when the market goes up, you’ll have the asset everyone wants: real, meaningful relationships. The good news is that this stock divides infinitely. Everyone can have a share. And when you have more stock than someone else, all you have to do is invite them to have some of yours. And we’ll all be richer for it.

NOTE: This article was originally published on Back Again with Ian Harber.

Ian Harber

Ian is a marketing manager at Endeavor and is a digital marketing practitioner with 10 years of experience. He has written about faith and technology, deconstruction and reconstruction for The Gospel Coalition and Mere Orthodoxy as well as appearing on podcasts such as Reconstructing Faith, The Alisa Childers Podcast, Love Thy Neighborhood, The Living Room Disciple, Everything Just Changed, and more. Additionally, Ian has contributed to the book, Before You Lose Your Faith: Deconstructing Doubt in the Church (TGC, 2021) and is the author of an upcoming a forthcoming book about deconstruction with InterVarsity Press (2024). Ian lives in Denton, Texas with his wife, Katie, and son, Ezra and is a member at The Village Church Denton.

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