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Opening The Prison

There is a necessity to virtualise every basic part of a person's body in order to create a virtual shell that is as comfortable or more comfortable than the original physical shell. It goes beyond the basic external senses, it goes beyond proprioception, and into the realm of, as the Matrix films would say "residual self image". It is necessary to create a form complete and intricate enough that the person whose mind is inside it can walk in front of a reflective surface, look in and feel 'that's me.'

For the majority of people, such a complete virtual shell, offering an alternate, real-feeling body, forms something that is roughly equivalent to their physical body. Perhaps it does not have a crick in its' back, or lacks 25lb of love handles. However, it is roughly equivalent, and they can switch back and forth between the two quite happily, treating the virtual as an extension of self, an alternate form no less or more than their main, physical one.

However, there are many people who are trapped in their physical form, those for whom the physical body is one of five things:

  • Dysfunctional
  • Malfunctional
  • Limited Use
  • Plain Wrong
  • Disfigured

    Dysfunctional

    A dysfunctional body is one that just plain does not work. It is not dead, but it is as close as it can be, without being so. Almost as a cosmic cruel joke, people with dysfunctional bodies are usually self-aware and very lucid.

    Dysfunctional bodies include quadriplegia, paraplegia, and other conditions where the nerves are broken or have not grown at all. Some severe types of spine biffida also count, where the nerves have not grown into all limbs.

    For these people, there is no malfunction, every part of the body is often working as well as it can, just there is a loss of nervous system communication.

    Malfunctional

    Malfunctional bodies include a whole range of things, where organs are not quite working as they should, or are deformed in a significant way. Empazima, cerebral palsy, dodgy hearts, incontinence. These and so many more conditions make living life to the max, or even just socialising impossible through the physical. It's better than having a dysfunctional body, arguably.

    Limited Use

    Bodies with limited usage include amputees and those who have had organs removed. For those with a body with limited usage, things are working as they should, the nerves are all in place, but the functionality is completely missing.

    Missing legs or arms are the most obvious kinds, along with those whose eyesight or vocal cords have completely gone. However, people who have lost stomach, intestine, even sections of brain are about too.

    Plain Wrong

    Sometimes there is nothing physically not functioning about the body, but it is wrong, feels wrong, feels like a torture chamber to the person inside it. Body dymorphia is a severe preoccupation with how the body looks/feels/sounds. With it, a person cannot accept their physical flaws and spirals down into hermitude.

    Other related issues include those suffered by both intergendered and transexed individuals, who feel they are born the wrong gender, and the physical state of their body - being totally wrong - can destroy a work or social life, utterly.

    Disfigured

    People who are disfigured, especially with facial disfigurements, hit something called the uncanny valley. Their face does not meet the usual human subconscious response for 'normal' and so people reject the person wholesale as a 'freak'. This understandably tends to have a massive effect on an individual's self confidence and quality of life.

For those at the more severe end of each of these five, the physical body is literally nothing but a prison cell with no key, no guard, and no hope of parole. A life long jail sentence, from which, traditionally, death is the only escape.

This is where the true hope of a total virtual body form comes in. A virtual body, articulatory, visually and audibly fully functional. A form completely non-malfunctional, missing nothing, and exactly right for the individual. Something which is complete enough for that individual to use as their sole method of interaction with others if they so desire, still maintaining a very high standard of life. With full sensory feedback - something that is perfectly possible - touch, heat, cold, smell, and taste add to the usual virtual senses. Proprioception brings the body to life. All the 'i's dotted and the 't's crossed. If the person is blind in physical, so long as the brain can process visual signals, or learn to adapt to processing visual signals, sight in the virtual is possible. A paraplegic in a physical body, learns to pole vault in the virtual one.

Those with cerebral palsy stride tall and proud, and mutes talk with a natural sounding voice.

This is the true potential of virtual bodies, and what we must continually strive to reach.

One day, well within a lifetime, we will be there.

Staff Comments

 


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