How do you typically let other people into your minds? You smile. You laugh. You use language to communicate thoughts and feelings. Jason Silva is here to explain why that’s all going to change once virtual reality reaches its full potential. Imagine instead of writing a poem or painting a picture to express yourself, you construct an entire world in virtual reality and invite others in to make an intimate assessment of who you are and what you project to be. Silva says it blows his mind to imagine “the new spaces of intimacy that will be made possible when you can invite your lover or your friend into your world.”
Jason Silva: Well I think that Oculus Rift and virtual reality is sort of — the Oculus Rift being an example that virtual reality has now arrived, you know. The multiple-billion-dollar purchase of Oculus Rift shows that now they have the resources to bring this thing into the mainstream. And, of course, virtual reality, like other media technologies, like cinema, is an engine of empathy because it speeds up the capacity to achieve presence in the mediated world, right. And so with a movie theater the size of the screen, the surround sound audio puts you there. With the Oculus Rift potentially you’re surrounded now by the media, by the simulated dreamscape. So you are even more there. So when I say an agent of empathy, the UN just released a virtual reality film of a Syrian refugee camp, you know. The fact that we’re able to put reporters now virtually on the ground, it elicits a sort of experience that is so much more visceral, so much more powerful, that the elusive sense of presence that literally puts you in a liminal trance state. Your defenses get lowered. You forget yourself. You forget your problems. You are there. You are in the moment. And so, you know, the power of that as an engine of empathy, I think can’t hurt humanity, you know. I think it’s like they talk in the movie Interstellar, our empathy rarely extends beyond our line of sight. And I think with virtual reality and the Oculus Rift, we now are extending our line of sight by being able to go everywhere at the speed of mind.
And I think that’s transformational. Furthermore the psychonautic philosopher Terence McKenna says that the goal of humanity is to turn ourselves inside-out, right. And he says that with virtual reality the canvas for intersubjective intimacy is taken to the next level. You know, before if I want to share the contents of my mind, I smile and I move my lips in a certain way. I make crude little grunts to convey meanings. I might make a painting, you know, or I might write a poem. And the point is these are a rich tapestry of tools that human beings have used for achieving something akin to telepathy, to know each other’s minds, to enter the intersubjective space of one another. But with virtual reality each of us potentially, the full flowering of this technology means each of us can create a universe of our own construction. A universe that reflects our own archetypical spaces, you know, our own iconographies. We turn ourselves inside out. You don’t just come into my room and see my books to see who I am. Now you get to come inside my mind. That’s what kind of blows my mind. The new spaces of intimacy that will be made possible when you can invite your lover or your friend into your world. Come visit my world and you get to inhabit that as a sort of cosmos of the mind.