Digital freedom: Virtual reality, avatars, and multiple identities: Jim Blascovich at TEDxWinnipeg

Jim Blascovich, Ph.D., University of California at Santa Barbara If Our Brains Can’t Distinguish between the Virtual World and the Real World, How Do We Know …


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  1. For better or worse. I think the boundary between 'virtual xxx' and 'physical xxx' is becoming fuzzier too. For instance, if a man look out his car window and sees some attractive woman, and some thoughts flashed across in his head, but he was bounded by some other conditions (e.g. need to focus on work at hands, making a living) such that it was not suitable or possible for him to realize what's in his head, then from the result or the event's effect point of view, as well as the man's point of view, the woman was nearly virtual as with many video characters (flashing across his view, form the source of a few voices). A relatively physically real women would not be 2 meters away and stays close by for less than a few seconds, it lets/makes little physical senses to the male character. Comparable to watching a movie, this relatively 'virtual experience' would have little or less impact on physical life.

    So it seems to me the main difference between 'virtual xxx' and 'physical xxx' is that how much mutual/simultaneous interactions there are among the entities that are involved in the process. The more we enter the digital world, the more sequential interaction we experience, as machines are information carrier and transporters, they don't self-generate information on the level that humans do.

  2. As more individuals join the digital environment, it stands to reason they will insert themselves into online communities they can relate to or want to be a part of.  It may take time for the brain to develop an understanding of how to differentiate what it views online from what it views in person as it does with dreams, however as digital environments evolve, the lines may become less and less obvious as senses are consumed with what can only be described as all encompassing.

  3. Very interesting. Will ivr technology become commonplace? Are individuals who grew up with video game consoles such as xbox adapted enough to regular video games that they experience the games as ivr? If so, can we forgo the expensive and awkward headgear and still expect with the right software to have an ivr experience with something as simple as a monitor and control stick? p.s. I think my mind only wandered about 8 times during your talk.

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