Understanding Virtual Reality

Prof. Thomas A. Furness III, an inventor, professor, and virtual reality pioneer based in United States, participates in Risk Roundup to discuss Virtual Reality. Known for his contributions in developing human interface technology, Prof. Furness has earned the title, “Grandfather of Virtual Reality.”



It is said that everything that we know about our reality comes by way of our senses. We, humans have a multitude of senses and our human nervous system has a specific sensory nervous system, and a sense organ, dedicated to each sense. If the senses like taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing; and the associated perception systems are there, right from the day we are born, then the entire experience of human reality is perhaps simply a combination of sensory information and our brain’s sense-making mechanisms for that specific information. Does this mean that the world we know is perhaps purely a simulated reality?

What would happen if we present our senses with made-up information about cyberspace, geospace and space (CGS):

  • Would the perception of reality in CGS also change in response to the simulated CGS feed?
  • Would being presented with a version of CGS reality that isn’t there, but is perceived as real, bring us a transformative potential?

Would living in an imaginary world help us solve complex problems that we face in cyberspace, geospace and space?

Understanding Virtual Reality

As we strive towards a Virtual Reality domain, a make-believe alternate world; it is not only important to understand how Virtual Reality technologies will change the way we communicate and work, but also how in the coming years, this alternate world will influence the human mind and behavior towards Cyberspace, Geospace and Space (CGS).

When we look at the complex challenges facing humanity from Cyberspace, Geospace and Space, the power and potential of virtual technologies brings us a promise to creatively and collectively solve the CGS problems.

As the Virtual Reality technology becomes more accessible, affordable and more widespread, there will likely be many more innovative uses for the technology in the coming years. While this emerging parallel universe of unlimited possibilities seems very promising, it is important to evaluate:

  • What is Virtual Reality?
  • How is Virtual Reality achieved?
  • What is the current state of Virtual Reality?
  • What technological advances brings innovators achieve this transformative potential?
  • What role will it play in human consciousness and behavior? Will it be good or bad?
  • Will this alternate world help humanity solve the complex challenges facing in Cyberspace, Geospace and Space or will it create problems?
  • What is the current state of Virtual Reality technologies?
  • Are there any standards for Virtual Reality development?
  • Which are the different components that collectively make Virtual Reality a reality today?
  • What technology fundamentals makes it possible?
  • What are the ways we will be able to use Virtual Reality in the coming years?
  • What challenges will emerge as applications of Virtual Reality emerges across nations: its government, industries, organizations and academia?
  • Do we currently have the real power of altering perception through Virtual Reality technology?
  • How close are we, to be able to bring real social change through Virtual Reality?


Virtual Reality technologies bring promising potential. While they are currently used to stimulate virtual worlds in gaming (largely) and education (some places); when we are able to combine them with physical elements, sensory stimulation and more; Virtual Reality will likely become an alternate universe with tremendous potential. All signs point to a future filled with Virtual Reality. The potential applications are expected to be beyond count. Amidst that, it is important to evaluate the perils of Virtual Reality applications that are emerging across nations as we march forward with the promise and potential of Virtual Reality technologies.

Time is now to talk about Virtual Reality risks!

For more please watch the Risk Roundup Webcast or hear Risk Roundup Podcast

About the Guest

Prof. Thomas A. Furness III is an inventor, professor, and virtual reality pioneer based in United States. Known for his contributions in developing human interface technology, Prof. Furness has earned the title, “Grandfather of Virtual Reality.”

He is a Professor in the University of Washington Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, and the founder of the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington and its sister labs at the University of Canterbury and University of Tasmania.

About the Host of Risk Roundup
Jayshree Pandya (née Bhatt) is a visionary leader, who is working passionately with imagination, insight and boldness to achieve Global Peace through Risk Management. It is her strong belief that collaboration between and across nations: its government, industries, organizations and academia (NGIOA) will be mutually beneficial to all—for not only in the identification and understanding of critical risks facing one nation, but also for managing the interconnected and interdependent risks facing all nations. She calls on nations to build a shared sense of identity and purpose, for how the NGIOA framework is structured will determine the survival and success of nations in the digital global age. She sees the big picture, thinks strategically and works with the power of intentionality and alignment for a higher purpose—for her eyes are not just on the near at hand but on the future of humanity!
At Risk Group, Jayshree is defining the language of risks and currently developing thought leadership, researching needed practices, tools, framework and systems to manage the “strategic and shared cyber-security, geo-security and space-security risks facing nations today in a digital global age. She believes that the contested commons of cyberspace or space cannot be secured if NGIOA works in silo within and across its geographical boundaries in cyberspace, geospace and space. As security requires an integrated NGIOA approach with a common language, she has launched cyber-security, geo-security and space-security risk research centers that will merge the boundaries of geo-security, cyber-security and space-security.
Previously, she launched and managed “Risk Management Matters”, an online risk journal and one of the first risk publications, publishing “Industry Risk Reports of Biotechnology, Energy, Healthcare, Nanotechnology, and Natural Disasters” over the course of five years. Jayshree’s inaugural book, “The Global Age: NGIOA @ Risk”, was published by Springer in 2012.

About Risk Roundup

Risk Roundup, a global initiative launched by Risk Group, is an integrated cyberspace, geospace, and space (CGS) security risk dialogue for individuals and entities across nations: its government, industries, organizations and academia (NGIOA).

Risk Roundup is released in both audio (Podcast) and video (Webcast) format and is available for subscription at (Risk Group WebsiteiTunesGoogle PlayStitcher RadioAndroid, and Risk Group Professional Social Media).

About Risk Group

Risk Group is a strategic security risk research organization. It focuses broadly on the risks facing individuals and entities across nations: its governments, industries, organizations, and academia (in short referred to as NGIOA). Its approach is broad, encircling cyberspace, geospace and space (in short referred to as CGS). It firmly believes that collaboration within, between and across NGIOA will be mutually beneficial to all stakeholders across nations—for not only in the identification and understanding of critical CGS security risks facing one nation, but all nations.

Risk Group believes that risk management, security and peace walk together hand in hand. Though security is related to management of threats and peace to the management of conflict, risk management is related to management of security vulnerabilities as well as management of conflict, and it is not possible to conceive any one of the three without the existence of the other two. All three concepts feed into each other. Risk Group believes that the security we build for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for everyone across nations. Tradition becomes our security-so if we build a culture of managing risks effectively it will lead us to security and security will lead us to peace!

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