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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:
- Limited Use
- Plain Wrong
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.