Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My Dear Machine

And so, the real game begins, as the time comes in which videogames no longer aspire to be movies, but are actually trying to pass for real life, since there are various rather interesting apps out there for all current VR devices; early attempts to make anything from roller-coasters, creepy manors, pre-historic lands, and even a space shuttle launch, everything goes. This is the kind of creative, all-over approach that's needed for VR to be a success. Now the countdown begins for the first steps, that might one day deliver a Strange Days film-like experience, in which most of our lives are spent jacked in, perhaps even like the film Surrogates.


I remember the early VR setups at the arcades, about two decades ago, which provided very basic, blocky simulation; heck, even cheesy films and tv, somehow lagged behind as to what was really possible to do in a virtual world. But deep inside, many a game designer, as well at the public, were expecting the multitude of options, as well as software, given the financial support behind the current VR endeavor. Whereas Sony VR is focusing on games, we must consider as well, the sheer size of adult entertainment, reason for which, the VR devices running on the PC, like Oculus Rift, are likely to offer not just games, but perhaps even sensual experiences.

This could well represent a landmark in gaming, considering casual gamers may then adopt VR, the way they did with the Nintendo Wii. Remember Kinect and the inability to introduce a new peripheral; well, this generation is pushing even stronger and from different fronts to make VR devices ubiquitous. It must be noted that Nintendo's previous console, the Wii, paved the way for casual gamers to participate often in party games, yet with a particularly interesting peripheral, the Wii Remote.


Philosopher David Pearce has made a convincing case for the abolition of suffering through hedonism, whose ideas on trans-humanism at a certain point intersect with VR. Pearce is a vegan who promotes "paradise engineering," and considers his work to include "pharmacology, biopsychiatry, and quantum mechanics." It would seem the cards are being shuffled in a way that may result in fringe scientific concepts such as the long debated Technological Singularity gain momentum, which of course, deals with the evolution of the machines that inhabit our lives. Many writings show how complex man-machine relationships can be in the not too distant future, they help us envision possible scenarios.

Medicine could benefit as well; created for clinical purposes, in various fields within medicine, MedVR is advancing steadily. Robotic surgery, after all, has proven to be somewhat successful. It is in training that VR shines in medicine, for it allows the students to acquire knowledge from a computer setup. Soldiers have been made to relive their time at war with VR also to heal. As well, there is VR used for architectural purposes. Laurentian University, Canada, a place well known for their mind experiments, has a program for their researchers to continue work and initiate new research with the objective of evaluating the impact of virtual reality and simulation training.


These ideas tie into the Anthropocene, a term seemingly coined by the ex-Soviets; from anthropo, for "man," and cene, which means "new" due to the impact mankind has had on its environment. Chemist and Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen popularized it in decades ago. It is nothing more and nothing less than guided evolution, since these days, more wondrous inventions are firstly created by humanity, but afterwards they acquire a more dynamic role, and they may actually change our own existence. Photo by me (2016), and from Strange Days (1995) Surrogates (2009).