• Jake
    1.4k
    One of my obsessions is wondering how the human experience will change as digital simulations of reality become ever more realistic.

    The Matrix movie comes to mind, as does the Holodeck in Startrek.

    We've got a long way to go before we can match those science fiction visions, but we are moving steadily in that direction.

    There are of course needs of the body which presumably can't be met in the digital realm (the subject of bathrooms was never addressed in the Holodeck or Matrix to my knowledge). So for now I'm assuming that a complete withdrawal from the real world is not part of the picture.

    What interests me is how our relationship with the real world will change as we develop ever more compelling simulations in which we have dramatically more control over our experience.

    Here's an example. I find real world conversations ever less interesting, because since the net arrived I am now comparing real world conversations to round the clock digital based philosophical conversations, which it seems is what my brain was born to do.

    And of course I'm not the only one. Many millions of people are choosing experiences like Facebook over less convenient and customizable social experiences in the real world.

    The philosophical question might be, what are the implications of finally getting what one really wants? Is that a utopia, or the beginning of the end?

    ------------

    PS: Dear Modgods, if this is not the appropriate category for this topic, thank you for correcting my selection.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    239
    The philosophical question might be, what are the implications of finally getting what one really wants? Is that a utopia, or the beginning of the end?Jake

    Good question, I've been thinking along the same lines... that 'idealism' could finally become the case afterall. We can't be certain of what's going to happen of course, but the idea that we possibly won't have to adjust our wishes to an external world, seem more like the beginning of the end to me... for homo sapiens anyway. Being forced to adapt and adjust your wishes to an external world, seems to be something of vital importance for the devellopment of a healthy human being.

    We've got a long way to go before we can match those science fiction visions, but we are moving steadily in that direction.Jake

    Have you tried the most recent VR-technology allready? Like for instance the one you can get standard on a playstation now... We're not that far off it seems to me. This kind of VR will be massive in the not to distant future, mark my words, not in the least because of its possible applications in the porn industry.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    The point is we don't know if this ''reality'' is or isn't a simulation. As Nick Bostrom (did I get his name correct?) argued simulated worlds would exceed real worlds in such numbers that it is likely that we are in one.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    239


    Meh, if it's a simulated world already, it's certainly not one I can easily change with my ideas alone, unlike say Virtual Reality... it's functionally the same as a real world, which is what really matters it seems to me.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    it's functionally the same as a real world, which is what really matters it seems to meChatteringMonkey

    How would you what the real world is like when you don't or possibly can't distinguish between the two?
  • ChatteringMonkey
    239
    How would you what the real world is like when you don't or possibly can't distinguish between the two?TheMadFool

    Alright, then forget about the word 'real'. What is 'really real' doesn't matter one iota unless you want metaphysical certainty, i.e. knowlegde for knowlegde sake. For practical purposes it's enough that a simulated world that we create is different from the one we might be living in, because there we are not the creators and we can't re-create it to align perfectly with our wishes... and that difference does matter, to us as human beings.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    Being forced to adapt and adjust your wishes to an external world, seems to be something of vital importance for the devellopment of a healthy human being.ChatteringMonkey

    This is a reasonable theory for sure, but I'm not sold yet. That is, I have no idea. :smile: That's surely been the pattern since the dawn of time, so that's what we're adapted to. That's pretty strong evidence.

    To argue the other side, a Holodeck-like world presents a new challenge we'd be forced to adapt to, such as, what is it that we really want? As it stands we really have little idea given how rarely the option is available.

    Have you tried the most recent VR-technology allready?ChatteringMonkey

    I haven't, but have been meaning to. I don't even have a cell phone, and to the best of my extremely limited understanding, that seems to often be necessary. Well, my wife has an iPhone, so I guess I'm out of excuses.

    I am however deeply engaged with 2D video editing using products like Hitfilm and CrazyTalk. This week I've begun exploring 3D editing via DAZ, and iClone looks pretty amazing. So I'm engaged in the fantasy quest, but haven't made it to VR yet.

    Yes, the porn industry is likely to lead the way, or um, so I've read in many scientific journals. :smile:
  • Jake
    1.4k
    As Nick Bostrom (did I get his name correct?) argued simulated worlds would exceed real worlds in such numbers that it is likely that we are in one.TheMadFool

    I too find this theory intriguing. The universe is 14 billion years old, so there could easily be civilizations a billion years ahead of us, and we are their TV shows.

    For practical purposes it's enough that a simulated world that we create is different from the one we might be living in,ChatteringMonkey

    But, this is what I'm attempting to focus on here.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    It seems what keeps the fantasy separate from the reality these days is that the fantasy is typically contained within a 2D panel such as a TV or computer screen. VR would seem to be a step away from that, but still you're inside of a device.

    A crucial turning point may come when the imagery can be projected photo realistically in to 3D space, like a hologram. It seems the real and fantasy realms would then be merged, and the confusion regarding what is what would skyrocket.

    A darker vision is that some global corporation(s) is probably going to control access to these fantasy realms, and this will be a very powerful tool for manipulating us to serve their will.

    I'm fascinated by the incredible pull even a primitive 1950's technology like television has upon the masses, me included. If we can be sucked headlong in to something so simple as TV, we're likely to lose our souls in media which is projected in to real world space and fully interactive.

    Aha! Luckily I have a solution to all of these concerns! You guys just need to be 67 like me, so you can die off before the fantasy shit really starts to hit the fan. :smile:
  • Jake
    1.4k
    Uh oh, but if you don't die soon enough your digital entity will live on in fantasy space for thousands of years, still speaking like you, looking like you, wanting what you want, etc. I'll be typing for an eternity. No, wait, I already did that. Damn, this is confusing! :smile:
  • ernestm
    629
    Hi Jake, I actually worked in VR technology for some time. In the end the company folded, and we did have alot of discussion about it. The fact is, a moving image with sound already occupies quite alot of brain activity. So far VR technology has added a bit of whizbang but is mostly a novelty only. It hasnt provided enough additional input information to the brain to justify the expenditure and inconvenience of the equipment necessary to provide the additional data.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    239
    But, this is what I'm attempting to focus on here.Jake

    Ok, I think they will be different, like I said because the difference is that we created and can easily change the one, and not the other. The world we live in, simulated or not, is subject to among other things the laws of physics... and as such if we want to change it, we can only do so within those constraints.

    It's difficult to say a lot about how the ones we will create will look like, because there even the sky will not be the limit... the possibilities are in principle only limited by our imagination. But, there are some already existing traditions of simulated worlds you might want to look into, to get an idea of what might happen. For instance RPG(RolePlayingGame)-worlds have been created and used for a few decennia now. Typically these are created with constraints to what one can do, and incentives systems for leveling (growth), to keep things "fun". A simulated world wherein literally everything is possible typically doesn't hold the interest of people, because there is no progression possible. To harken back to Nietzsche - as I tend to do - what people want is "the feeling of increase in power"... power cannot increase if you allready can do everything. So it seems likely that the simulated worlds that will be created in the future will have some contraints and incentives build-in to keep people engaged.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    Ok, I think they will be different,ChatteringMonkey

    Sorry, I was unclear, I was actually supporting your point of view there. Let's just assume that what we think of as reality is not a simulation.

    It's difficult to say a lot about how the ones we will create will look like, because there even the sky will not be the limit... the possibilities are in principle only limited by our imagination.ChatteringMonkey

    Yes, that's the new realm we are entering, an exploration of our imaginations. At first we'll address the fantasies we already have, like porn and travel etc. At some point we'll move beyond that in to, in to, in to, something I can't yet imagine.

    To harken back to Nietzsche - as I tend to do - what people want is "the feeling of increase in power"... power cannot increase if you allready can do everything.ChatteringMonkey

    Great point ChatteringNietzsche. Yea, perhaps these new realities will also have to simulate the limitations we are trying to leave behind. I'm sure this all makes perfect sense if one smokes enough weed. :smile:

    Which reminds me, I'll bet the technological part of the fantasy machine will be supplemented by drugs of various kinds.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    So far VR technology has added a bit of whizbang but is mostly a novelty only. It hasnt provided enough additional input information to the brain to justify the expenditure and inconvenience of the equipment necessary to provide the additional data.ernestm

    This is interesting, thanks. I hope you'll continue to add your insights from the front lines. What was your personal experience of VR? Do you still use it now that the company you worked for is no more?
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    Alright, then forget about the word 'real'. What is 'really real' doesn't matter one iota unless you want metaphysical certainty, i.e. knowlegde for knowlegde sake. For practical purposes it's enough that a simulated world that we create is different from the one we might be living in, because there we are not the creators and we can't re-create it to align perfectly with our wishes... and that difference does matter, to us as human beings.ChatteringMonkey

    Indeed if it's like the Matrix movie and it's possible to ''really'' die in the Matrix then the distinction virtual-real matters less. But, it's possible to unplug yourself from the Matrix and wake up in the real world. Whether you choose the red pill or blue pill is the million dollar question, right?
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    I too find this theory intriguing. The universe is 14 billion years old, so there could easily be civilizations a billion years ahead of us, and we are their TV shows.Jake

    Another possibility which just crossed my mind is that we don't have to be in a virtual world to be a simulation. Simulations may be done in the real world.

    Our planet could be a life-experiment (read simulation) being carried out by an advanced alien civilization. Since they created our genes they have control over our evolution. In fact everything we do is manipulated through the genetic code.
  • Bitter Crank
    8k
    While it's nice to fantasize about the future of fantasy and virtual reality, let us remember that you aren't going to get so much as a cheaply printed comic book for free, let alone an hour on the holodeck of the future.

    Chickens and Eggs:

    What came first? e-mail, cell phones, FaceBook, et al infected people with the coolness of avoiding face-to-face contact, or people were relieved when e-mail, cellphones, and FaceBook et al rescued people from the dreary necessity of face to face contact?

    I'm prejudiced here. I think it was chickens.

    Since writing, paper, and post offices made it possible to communicate reasonably well over distance and time, people have availed themselves of mail. The telegraph and telephone added something that was faster and more personal than mail. Recorded sound, film, radio, and television are all fantasy-stoking media, and have been since they were invented. The Internet and WWW, browsers, broadband, etc. merged all previous media into products that could be sold on small screens.

    No media, no device, and no corporation selling media and devices was called into existence by customer demand. Entrepreneurs (like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg, et al) created devices and media and sold them to the public at enormous profit. So much so that Jeff Bezos (Amazon) is the richest man on earth.

    Media is a business; devices are a business; fantasy is a business. You aren't going to get it for free.

    Just as people had to learn how to use and NEED telegraphy, telephones, recorded sound, cameras, film, radio, television, and computers, they have had to learn how to use and NEED the current batch of media and gadgets. Some of us are more suckers for the blandishments of corporation marketing messages than others.
  • Bitter Crank
    8k
    There are of course needs of the body which presumably can't be met in the digital realm (the subject of bathrooms was never addressed in the HolodeckJake

    The needs of the body weren't dealt with on any deck of the Enterprise, never mind the holodeck. Do you recollect seeing a urinal in any Star Trek episode? I was shocked when someone actually washed their hands in a sink. Did anyone ever vomit in an episode? People didn't even bleed, in most cases. Picard ordered many cups of Earl Gray tea from the replicator but rarely did he (appear to) take more than one sip.

    The holodeck was more than a hologram. It had physically resistant topography, features, furniture, and forces. It was way pass virtual reality and was weird reality (except for the protections which somehow prevented things from getting out of hand -- until the protections failed, which they did regularly).

    Virtual reality is going to have to figure out how to provide solidity to objects that do not exist. Nice trick, that.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    While it's nice to fantasize about the future of fantasy and virtual reality, let us remember that you aren't going to get so much as a cheaply printed comic book for free, let alone an hour on the holodeck of the future.Bitter Crank

    Hi Crank,

    Well, yes, of course. I had to buy this computer in order to connect with you, an essentially unreal character in my experience.

    You're right in that the more powerful the coming technology is the more it will become another tool in the process of funneling money and power from the middle and lower classes up the chain to those who are already rich. This is a sobering reality for sure.

    We could look to our relationship with dangerous drugs perhaps. Everybody knows these drugs are unhealthy from the start, but the experience they promise is too appealing for many to resist.

    What may make VR even more dangerous is that it will also have many constructive uses, which will make it easy to justify it's development.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    The reason I so often rant on this topic is that it is a very real part of my everyday life. Other than my marriage, my life is almost entirely divided between nature and the net, two very different experiences, both of which are very compelling for me. That is, I'm almost always doing one or the other, nature or the net.

    And so I'm continually traveling back and forth between the real and the symbolic, over and over and over again for years. Thus, the comparison between actual reality and simulated symbolic reality is constantly being shoved in my face.

    And it's not just an intellectual question for me, because I have a deep emotional relationship with both of these experiences, even though they are very different.

    This personal experience gets reflected in my philosophy, where I'm constantly philosophizing about the limits of philosophy, and constantly writing about the emptiness of the symbolic.

    About 20 years ago I attempted to square this circle by becoming a nature photographer with a series of nature websites. My main project was Nature-Talk.com, many many thousands of pages, and doesn't the name say it all? (Please note that somebody else now has this domain and it has nothing to do with nature anymore)

    Anyway, in the end I gave it up, because it's simply not possible to capture the real world in the lens of a camera or any series of words. My $2000 worth of camera equipment has long been sitting lonely in an upstairs closet, presumably rotting away, and my websites are long gone.

    And so here I am, keeping the contradiction alive for reasons that likely make little sense. I am cursed with being born with some ability at the symbolic, and also some ability to see it's emptiness. Next time around I won't be so greedy and will request just one or the other. :smile:
  • Nils Loc
    483
    The use of VR and 3D printing together has great potential. 1st person immersion helps with design.

  • Bitter Crank
    8k
    I read an interesting book about your part of the world (northern Florida?) -- Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season with the Wild Turkey by Joe Hutto. Hutto hatched a batch of wild turkey eggs and raised the chicks which had been imprinted on him. He spent most of a year with the turkeys, all day, on many days. Great book.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season with the Wild Turkey by Joe Hutto. Hutto hatched a batch of wild turkey eggs and raised the chicks which had been imprinted on him. He spent most of a year with the turkeys, all day, on many days. Great book.Bitter Crank

    Yea, that was great!

    Here's a trailer to the documentary video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmYRi-3m6oA

    Full video here, but requires login.

    https://www.pbs.org/video/nature-my-life-as-a-turkey/

    =============

    Here's a wonderful similar video about a guy and deer (though not Florida)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii4Oke8lb6A

    =============

    Here's what YouTube has about my home state park, 4 miles from my house. Not a very good selection, but convenient.

    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=san+felasco+state+park

    =============

    Kathy and I used to have a website containing many videos of our adventures raising squirrels, but it went bye-bye some time ago. But of course there are many such vids on YouTuber.
  • Bitter Crank
    8k
    an essentially unreal character in my experience.Jake

    You know, come to think of it, people do tell me to "get real" quite often. Maybe I am virtual, unreal. It seems like that some days.

    You're right in that the more powerful the coming technology is the more it will become another tool in the process of funneling money and power from the middle and lower classes up the chain to those who are already rich. This is a sobering reality for sure.Jake

    As Marx noted, the nature of culture follows the curve of material production. We are talking about virtual reality because material production (in the form of television programs and film) are able to depict virtual reality (Matrix, the holodeck, Q and the Continuum (2nd generation Star Trek character, etc). But depicting virtual reality isn't virtual reality.

    Facebook, Amazon, and Google didn't produce wealth by the multi-billion truckload because people just loved bloviating the details of their personal lives to the world, looking at stuff and seeing it appear on their front step (Sears and Wards starting doing that 125 years ago) or getting answers to everything from Google Search. Facebook, Amazon, and Google were engineered to make money by offering bait for what really produces earnings: advertising and buying stuff. Facebook, Amazon, Google, and thousands of other tech companies started out fairly small, had to struggle to find their market and exploit it (like, from a few college students to 1/7th of the global population for Facebook).

    The use of VR and 3D printing together has great potential. 1st person immersion helps with design.Nils Loc

    Absolutely, first person immersion helps with design. I imagine that was true for the ancient ivory carver who created the "Venus" figurine 35,000 years ago, found near Willnedorf, Austria, or whoever carved the Venus de Milo, or Jackson Pollock dribbling paint on canvas. Adding a 3D printer and a virtual reality app to one's gear isn't "virtual" anything. The term "virtual reality" is leading people around by the nose. It's one more example (among trillions of examples) of us believing our own bullshit.

    Has our grip on reality become so loose that we think the hardness of reality can just be waved away and EDIT: depicted performed or inhabited however we see fit? I hope we have not lost our grip to that extent.
  • Nils Loc
    483
    Absolutely, first person immersion helps with design. I imagine that was true for the ancient ivory carver who created the "Venus" figurine 35,000 years ago, found near Willnedorf, Austria, or whoever carved the Venus de Milo, or Jackson Pollock dribbling paint on canvas.Bitter Crank

    Well, furthermore, a first person immersion VR interface itself becomes as plastic as the thing being designed within it. So you can change scales, download pre-designed forms, project textures by various automated tasks and whatever else ingenious folks think up. VR would be a great way to collaborate across time and space while also saving energy compared to real world equivalent.

    Though there is a sense in which it all seems rather absurdly redundant (as you are suggesting). The best 3-D printer is still probably the potters wheel and the potter, when all the machines go down. The fundamental virtual world is the one we experience sans all the fancy cybernetic extensions.

    Has our grip on reality become so loose that we think the hardness of reality can just be waved away and depicted however we see fit? I hope we have not lost our grip to that extent.Bitter Crank

    We will be reminded of reality when the economy really collapses and all electronics stop. Then poof, no more The Philosophy Forum. Philosophy can take a back seat to the need to eat.

    We should all be working on making this temporary reality less fragile.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    We should all be working on making this temporary reality less fragile.Nils Loc

    This is a noble sensible sentiment which I agree with. But it seems the accelerating emergence of virtual realities will make this ever more unlikely. Why would a person concern themselves with the highly imperfect real world when they've converted a room in their house in to a perfect alternate reality?

    This is so cliche, but isn't this already happening to a significant degree as vast human populations are being sucked headlong in to tiny cell phone screens? If stupid inane TV or tiny cell phone screens can be so incredibly inviting to us, what chance will we have as the virtual realm becomes ever harder to distinguish from the real world?

    After our basic physical needs, the brain wants what the brain wants, and it seems it will take it where ever it can find it.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    As I see it, this is less a technology issue and more a human psychology issue. As example, ancient cave men sat around the fire telling each other stories in which the hunters were always brave and their women always beautiful, when in fact this was likely rarely the case.

    This is what we're up against, technology is simply enabling that which we've always wanted from the very beginning.
  • ArguingWAristotleTiff
    3.5k
    Virtual reality, simulated reality, augmented reality and immersive reality are the latest technologies that I am vaguely familiar with, only because my youngest son is Second year in the Bachelors of Science degree of Simulated Science, Gaming and Animation. The University he attends is an Aeronautical University that is Grant and privately funded. The "Grants" for the most part are from an arm of the DOD (Dept Of Defense) and the ancillary private companies that depend on leading edge technology and training. The AF ROTC at Embry Riddle is probably about 300 students of the 1600 total student body.

    The Sim Science degree from ER is different in the sense that 1) my son's graduating class of 15 students will be the first graduating class with this degree 2) most VR/SR/AR/IR classes offer a certificate of graduation and if it is offered as Bachelors degree, then it is a Bachelors of Art.
    The biggest difference that I can see so far is that the SimScience degree from ER is Math, Math and Math. Classes like "Discreet structures" to me would seem like how to hide a silo or a detention center in the center of a population without being noticed? Good guess seeing as many of the students from ER graduate into an "ABC" government position right? Wrong. So, so wrong.
    Discreet structures is MATH! MATH! MATH!

    Unfortunately, the students that attend ER are not really the ones working on how to advance porn in the VR world but maybe one adventurous soul will see the $$$$ in it and adjust their logarithms. :smirk:
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    The philosophical question might be, what are the implications of finally getting what one really wants? Is that a utopia, or the beginning of the end?Jake

    We don't need technocratic utopia to understand that part of human nature; we just need addiction.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    We don't need technocratic utopia to understand that part of human nature; we just need addiction.Noble Dust

    Good point, thanks. Yes, that's essentially what I'm referring to, what happens when VR meets our psychological desires in such a compelling manner that we can't break free? Like for instance, there might someday be a virtual environment where people keep typing, typing, typing and can't stop themselves. :smile:
  • Jake
    1.4k
    Interesting Tiff, thanks for sharing that. ER is less than an hour from where I grew up. I've heard that unlike the @#$% Internutz, you can still get a latte there.

    Yea, it makes sense the military would be deep in to VR. They did invent the Internet after all. Math, math, math, and it's a Bachelors of Art?

    Unfortunately, the students that attend ER are not really the ones working on how to advance porn in the VR world but maybe one adventurous soul will see the
    in it and adjust their logarithms.
    ArguingWAristotleTiff

    It seems like the military will enter the porno-sphere, given that is where most military age males will be found.
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