Virtual fun

We had another speaker yesterday (Wednesday), this time he came with a dinner. The food wasn’t half bad but the speaker was definitely the highlight of the week.

The speaker was Jeremy Bailenson, an associate professor and the director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Laboratory. He talked about the work they do on the lab (which sounded totally awesome, if you excuse my teenager-like expression) and discussed how things done in a virtual reality can affect people’s behavior in the real world. Or is it the real world? If we create good enough virtual representations of something, at which point will it become real or indistinguishably like reality?

I find the concept of virtual realities extremely fascinating. There are many aspects to it: you are no longer constrained by your physical being, you can potentially create worlds and places that couldn’t otherwise exist and the extended reality that could be implemented with this kind of technology (this is about to go live) is massively interesting. And there would be much more to it, but let’s not make this a list.

There’s of course the dark lining to this silver cloud. If you could create a virtual reality, what stops you from distorting to cause harm? What if all new experiences were just virtual? Could we, in the end, tell the difference between real and fake? What is real anyway?

Who knows. After all, computer games and all kinds of internet services and television have immersed us to a kind of virtual reality for years now. Are even more detailed virtual worlds and an even more lifelike experience just the next logical step?

With these rhetorical questions, good night.