Microsoft researchers say VR hallucinations & 'living software' to feature in next 10 years of tech

Microsoft researchers say VR hallucinations & 'living software' to feature in next 10 years of tech
Non-discriminatory algorithms, programmable biology, and virtual reality (VR) systems that will offer hallucinations akin to LSD are what's in store over the next ten years, according to a group of Microsoft researchers.

VR technology is an emerging field poised for new breakthroughs in 2017, such as the ability to "feature better body tracking" and the "ability to experience embodiment of virtual avatars from a first-person perspective,"said Mar Gonzalez Franco, an MSR NExT researcher.

As for ten years from now, Franco said VR systems will offer "rich multisensorial experiences" capable of "producing hallucinations" that bend perceived reality.

"Using this technology, humans will retrain, recalibrate and improve their perceptual systems," she said. "In contrast to current virtual reality systems that only stimulate visual and auditory senses, in the future the experience will expand to other sensory modalities including tactile with haptic devices."

Gonzalez was one of 17 Microsoft researchers, all female in the company's effort to feature women's contributions to computing, that spoke of their respective fields to predict what they expect to see in 2017 as well as ten years from now, in 2027.

Jennifer Chayes, managing director of Microsoft Research labs in New England and New York, said current algorithms "often reproduce the discrimination and unfairness in our data." In 10 years, advances in her field will result in the development of more fair and accountable algorithms that will be "much more robust to manipulation."

Asta Roseway, a principal research designer for Microsoft, said that in 2017, development of the Internet of Things (IoT) for agriculture will fuse "ubiquitous sensing, computer vision capabilities and cloud storage to maximize machine learning and analytics" in order to help farmers with micro- and macro-level farming practices in the face of instability. By 2027, such developments will include artificial intelligence that farmers will use to assess crop health and yields "regardless of climate change, drought and disaster."

In 10 years, expect automation to "give rise to a new economy in which most people’s societal contribution comes from the data they generate as they go about their lives rather than the work they do," according to Nicole Immorlica, a senior researcher at Microsoft's New England research lab.

"Economists will be talking about ways to fairly compensate people for these contributions," she added. "This will most probably involve heavier redistribution of wealth through mechanisms such as taxes or social programs."

The "realization of programming biology," will emerge by 2027, according to Microsoft scientist Sara-Jane Dunn.

"While the last 50 years were utterly transformed by the ability to program on silicon, we will be entering the next programming revolution: The era of living software," she said.