19 January 2008

Augmented Reality technology challenges notions of consciousness.

Two boffins from Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a way to seamlessly integrate virtual world avatars and graphics into real life scenes in real time. http://arsecondlife.gvu.gatech.edu/ . ‘Thinkers’, a Second Life group with over 600 members, will be having an in-world discussion event on this work and its consequences at 11.30pm (GMT)/3.30pm (PST) on 22nd January 2008. http://slurl.com/secondlife/SupportforHealing/199/189/29 Check out this video for a sample of where the technology is right now.

Might we utilise this technology to augment our own consciousness some day? We know that perception is created in the brain so how long before we manipulate the sensory input sufficiently to authentically make the cognitive jump into a blended reality? Psychologically speaking this technology has potentially huge implications for social interaction theory and identity theory. Philosophically, if the avatars we socially interact with and form relations with are non-physical need we be physical too? Perhaps this takes us back to the old, “Can a computer be conscious?” debate. If two avatars met and could realistically pass between the virtual/real worlds where are the boundaries? Is this the first step toward eradicating the separation of real life and virtual worlds? If so, what kind of a world is emerging? Many, many thought experiments from this one. Come along to the event, run by avatar Extropia DaSilva of the Thinkers group, for some high level discussion amongst diverse intellects.


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