Virtual reality has the potential to increase our ability to empathize with people in other situations. We could put on a pair of goggles and see what it’s like to live in their world. But like any new technology, it will probably be used mostly for video gaming at first. There’s a clear business model behind making and selling a video game. Besides the technical challenges associated with perfecting the VR experience, it’s straightforward to execute.
Creating the VR empathy machine is a little more difficult. Who has the incentive to build it? There’s no clear business model behind allowing people to step into other’s shoes. It may never be built and perfected to the level we’re hoping. The good news is, we don’t even need VR for us to begin understanding how other people live. All we need to do is have a conversation. Ask a question. Make yourself vulnerable enough to see what’s already there.
It’s no use waiting for another new technology to finally bring empathy to the human race. It’s already available to each of us in every moment.