A group of Scottish scientists are beginning one of the biggest computer backup projects in history: they’re creating an “accurate to within 3mm” 3D model of Mount Rushmore, so it can be recreated in case it is ever ruined by climate change, natural disaster, or war. The Guardian reports that this is only the fist in a series of efforts to create and archive 3D models of hundreds of at-risk heritage sites throughout the world.
The fact that this effort with allow future generations to meticulously recreate these sites is impressive, but in my opinion it is only one of many interesting possibilities of the project.
As futurist Ray Kurzweil explained to Big Think, virtual worlds are in their infancy these days, but they are becoming more sophisticated by the hour. In ten years, he suggests, virtual reality will be indistinguishable from the real world.
Imagine touring perfectly-rendered heritage sites in a virtual world, flitting from the Taj Mahal to Versailles in seconds. Not only will these environments provide a sublime destination for virtual tourists who may never be able to afford an in-person trip, but historians from across the world will also have instant access to the sites for advanced comparative study. It would synthesize our world cultures in unprecedented days, and provide a great way to spend a lazy weekend. If Kurzweil is right, it won’t be long until I can meet you in Mt. Rushmore’s shadow.