from the world's big
Take the circumstances in your life seriously, but not literally. Here's why.
- Galileo was quite controversial, in part, because he argued that Earth moved around the sun, despite people's senses deluding them that the world was static.
- Evolution may have primed us to see the world in terms of payoffs rather than absolute reality — this has actually helped us survive. Those who win payoffs are more likely to pass on their genes, which encode these strategies to get to the "next level" of life.
- It's important to listen to people's objections because they may bring something to your attention outside your ken. Learn from them to make your ideas sharper.
Exploring the idea that objects we perceive in everyday life do not reflect objective reality.
- Professor of cognitive science Donald Hoffman presents his theory that the world we perceive is a virtual reality. Hoffman has tested this theory by running successful computer simulations that suggest there is no objective reality.
- When it comes to Nick Bostrom's simulation theory, Hoffman agrees with parts and disagrees with others. Hoffman argues that, while space time and physical objects do not correspond with objective reality, conscious experiences like the smell of garlic and the feel of velvet cannot be produced by the simulation.
- "You can't start with unconscious ingredients and boot up consciousness," Hoffman says.
Study looks at who/what they prefer learning from
- In a study, 33 girls preferred to learn from a young VR researcher named Marie — 33 boys did better with lessons from a robot drone
- It's expected that the future of learning is VR
- Is it better to be guided by someone like you, or something else entirely?
The study setup<p>The initial purpose of the research was to "determine whether boys and girls learn better when the characteristics of the pedagogical agent are matched to the gender of the learner while learning in immersive virtual reality." As it turned out, they might have started with teachers matched to the same <em>species</em>, given the boys' responses.</p><p>Makransky recruited 66 seventh- and eight-graders between the ages of 13 and 16. There were 33 from each level, and 33 of the cohort was female. 38 of the kids had previously tried VR. The tests occurred during VR workshops at two week-long summer science camps. Obviously, therefore, the children were preselected for their interest in science by virtue of their attendance at the camps.</p><p>The students were administered a pre-test, after which they were led into three stages of VR learning:</p> <ul> <li>In the first, they were given lessons via virtual tablets on which appeared theory, visualizations, pictures, and assignments.</li> <li>Second, they performed tasks in their virtual world, which contained, among other things, workbenches. They were tasked with removing inappropriate items from their "lab," dealing with acid spills, and identifying hazardous situations.</li> <li>The third stage involved answering multiple-choice questions about lab safety.</li></ul>
The virtual teachers<p>The experiments were basically a competition between two virtual teachers, Marie, and the robot drone. They were both programmed to exhibit the same type of behaviors, as well as "micro-expressions when resting, such as eye and head movements to add an additional layer of realism, which was found to positively affect learning outcome." Marie's voice was synced to her lips. The droids' speech was shown using the blue ring around its eye.</p>
How'd they do?<p>When the researchers tabulated data from the pre-test, the students' performance scores, and the results from the post-test, the gendered preferences were revealed. Makransky summed up his findings to the University of Copenhagen.</p><p>As for the girls:</p><blockquote><em>We can see that students´ ability to identify with the pedagogical agent improves their level of learning. This gives us an exciting possibility to actually make education more appealing to the students. This is important, as children's' interest in school decreases in middle school, and there is specifically a desire to increase female students' interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. Therefore, the possibility to engage girls is very appealing. In our opinion VR-program designers should use this knowledge to incorporate different types of pedagogical agents in VR for different types of students.</em></blockquote><p>And the boys:</p><blockquote><em>Our results show that the boys´ concentration and focus on the task rises when their virtual teacher is a non-traditional teaching figure like a robot or a drone. We also see these types of pedagogical agents are more effective in terms of the boys´ learning outcomes, possibly because they portray some of the superhero-qualities that appeal widely to boys, and because they resemble the agents boys are used to \[interacting] with in computer games.</em></blockquote><p>Obviously, a study such as this can't definitely identify the individual preference of a single specific girl or boy, nor does it assume stereotypical behavior for all members of a gender. It takes a generalized look at young girls and boys preferences. It's also worth noting that at least one other study found that the characteristics of a VR instructor may matter less as students get older. It's no surprise that that there are surprises ahead. After all, we're just at the dawn of a whole new era in education.<span></span></p>
How could we create a technology capable of replacing our own reality?
- Immersion would consist of a complete perception of existing in another world.
- This idea has been the backbone of numerous stories and would be akin to The Matrix world.
- Our current VR technology is nowhere near close to giving us this science fiction experience.
What is a fully immersive virtual reality?<p>The varied representations of this technology share many commonalities. People connecting to the system are often booted in through some kind of central nervous system jack and then made unconscious of their physical body and surrounding environment.</p><p>We interact with the world through our senses, which are nerve impulses in different degrees of fidelity. A fully virtual world would be able to reproduce all of our senses and more fantastical feelings, thoughts and more in a completely artificial environment. The possibilities for experience are endless. </p><p>For those familiar with William Gibson's novel <em>Neuromancer</em>, the Cyberdeck brings to mind an example of a fully immersive VR landscape. At one point in the novel, the protagonist Case remarks about cyberspace: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em></em>"Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding..."<em></em></p>Whether it's a kind of headset, nervous system jacked-in wire, humans suspended in some eternal vat or other disembodied consciousness, this science fiction technology is far out and eons ahead of anything we're now capable of experiencing with our limited<a href="https://bigthink.com/mike-colagrossi/gamifying-reality-how-ar-and-vr-will-combine-to-transform-experience" target="_self"> VR & AR glasses.</a>
What theoretical technology is needed?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="mQDj35X7" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="e33e51dbf819a247722ef4907425eeae"> <div id="botr_mQDj35X7_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/mQDj35X7-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/mQDj35X7-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/mQDj35X7-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>It's difficult to get a grasp on where to even begin development on this technology as it is an intersection between computing, neuroscience, and biology just to start. Take for example what would be needed in terms of a feedback system between the user and computer. The brain-to-machine bandwidth would require incredible feats of computing tech to pass through all that information.</p><p>In terms of history, the computer age is in its absolute infancy. Biological systems have been cranking at it for 3.5 billion years. The convergence of these two is going to take a lot more knowledge of all their intricate workings. Right now we lack any uniform insight into what human consciousness is and the interworking relationship between the brain and nervous system. </p><p>We've done a great job learning and understanding how individual processes work, but as a whole we don't know much. Aside from some limited brain to speech technologies and other assorted brain and nervous system experiments, scientists haven't had much luck getting a controlling grasp on the systems of control even when it comes to experimenting on non-human life forms. </p><p>For example, scientists have been able to modify the behavior of a certain cockroach species<a href="https://bigthink.com/mike-colagrossi/what-animals-is-ai-currently-smarter-than" target="_self"> by connecting wires into its antennae</a> and shifting its movement a little bit. Yet as a relatively simple animal, our understanding of its control systems still lags behind. </p><p>The biggest barrier to understanding and synthesizing all of this into one uniform technology is the disparate paths that these different sciences take. An upheaval and disruption in computing a neuroscience revolution and the will to merge all of this together is needed. </p><p>While this fully immersive virtual world still exists on the peripheries of our dreams, we can contribute to the technology already in place. Slap on a pair of VR glasses today and you'll be amazed at how far we've come in the past few decades. Although the current reality is pessimistic about the near-term possibilities of full VR immersion, don't despair. The ever beating drum of scientific progress is elusive but always near.</p>
Are we living in a simulation?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="D2jemg0Z" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="b295938be616d2cb47af566d6422c4fb"> <div id="botr_D2jemg0Z_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/D2jemg0Z-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/D2jemg0Z-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/D2jemg0Z-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
VR's coolest feature? Boosting compassion and empathy.
- Virtual reality fills us with awe and adrenaline — and the technology is only at a crude stage, explains VR filmmaker Danfung Dennis. It's capable of inspiring something much greater in us: empathy.
- With coming technological advancements in pixel display, haptics, and sound tracking, VR users will finally be able to know what it's like to really take another person's perspective. Empathy is inherent in humans (and other animal species), but just as it can be squashed, it must be practiced in order to develop.
- "This ability to improve ourselves to become a more empathetic and compassionate society is what I hope we will use this technology for," Dennis says.