In Newton’s era, if you wanted something to move physical force had to be applied – whether this is someone throwing an apple, or gravity pulling the apple from the tree, the end result is it moves to hit Sir Isaac on his head.
Transfer this into the commercial world and we see goods, historically, either grown or manufactured in one place and then transported for sale or use in another. In the financial world money, regardless of currency, physically existed and as such had to be manually moved. Even physical attraction required both parties to be present in the same place and time.
Enter virtual reality. Of course it’s true that not everything can be turned into 0’s and 1’s and sent over fibre optic cables, or travel wirelessly through thin air, but practically everything can be affected virtually. Take a book written in the UK – Harry Potter for example. Rather than one publisher printing billions of copies, and shipping them in containers worldwide – which of course garners additional time and expense, instead the book is turned into virtual packets and sent to the four corners of the globe where it is printed locally and sold. Today you don’t even need to physically turn the pages and read about the young wizard, this too can happen virtually on any number of eReaders.
By the same token, physically travelling to a central location and purchasing items is negated by virtually browsing the aisles with the merchandise then picked and transported to your location.
Visiting the bank to pay money in, or write a cheque to tell the bank to give your money to someone else is practically consigned to history. Instead your money doesn’t even have to physically move as it’s probably not in the bank’s vault anyway. It just exists on virtual paper and, as such moves, from one virtual place to another.
Even cupid is affected as people no longer rely purely on physical attraction to get the ball rolling. Instead singles can enter their preferences into a search engine with suitable matches returned. Businesses can be researched and products appraised without anyone a boardroom or demonstration suite in sight. This demotes appearance to an eliminating, rather than driving factor with the whole ‘getting to know you’ phase done virtually.
That's progress, isn't it?
Of course it is, and if we hadn’t moved forward, many of us would still believe the world was flat and be bartering with chickens. However, it doesn’t mean it’s all positive.
While the dandy highwayman may no longer stop a coach shouting ‘stand and deliver’, and the Great Train Robbery consigned to history, it doesn’t mean money is never stolen. Instead of months of meticulous planning new age bandits can, and do, virtually rob banks from the comfort of their living rooms. They hide behind a computer screen silently hammering away at the bank vault until they manage to break in. And it’s highly lucrative as, if it works on one door, the likelihood is it can be replicated on hundreds of others and in one night millions can be stolen from hundreds of vaults.
The sad truth is cyber thieves can, and will if you let them, visit your premises and ransack your filing cabinets to steal your plans or poach your customers and intellectual properly without physically setting foot in your building. In today’s virtual world millions of people can now attack you and distance is not a factor. I suppose that could be considered progress!