Future object appearance

Continuing the theme from yesterday, let’s posit for a moment that we are actually living in the world described by Vernor Vinge in his novel Rainbows End. Everyone is wearing augmented reality contact lenses, and the world around us looks like whatever we each want it to look like.

Yet that world will still be physical. A knife could still hurt you, and a cool glass of water will still be refreshing.

Will we gradually see a divergence from physical essence and subjective appearance? Will the actual appearance of manufactured physical objects gradually cease to matter, once we are all looking at them through our contact lenses?

Will the true appearance of a future coffee table or a grand piano actually be drab and nondescript, once nobody is looking at the naked object itself? Will people cease to hang pictures on their walls, once a framed picture can simply be “dropped in” to any room as a virtual object?

After all, we don’t decorate the electrical wires that run behind our walls, or the pipes that carry water to our kitchen sink. Nobody ever looks at those things, unless they are an electrician or a plumber.

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