A fully virtual body, free of the limited constrains, pains, and problems of the physical, made anew via computer mediation, is a hoped and dreamed about desire for so many. For those whose bodies do not truly function properly, no-longer function, or are pained or disfigured, a virtual body would offer full liberation, and a chance to reach their full potential. For those whose bodies are fully functional, it still holds value. Allowing experience of the world from perspectives they could otherwise, never attain.
What Use a Virtual Body?
At first glance, the entire concept of a virtual form, may seem unnecessary, if viewed from a certain point of view. However, there are many, equally valid points of view, and an exploration of some of them, showcases the possibilities.
Extended Periods in VR
The ability to maintain and monitor health and bodily well being of even a useless or undesirable body, is an essential cornerstone to living through a virtual form. If this is not achieved, living through the virtual, as an alternate, viable way of life, will not be a reality.
A new life, a happier life, a virtual life
The life which most crave for is a life in which the form they wear is one of their choosing, one in which the visage they present matches the person inside. A life which feels as physically real as the one left behind, in which the person is more active, more vibrant, more alive than they might have been otherwise.
"Virtual presence is indistinguishable from real presence."
A look into the future of the neuralprosthetic and what utilising such will eventually mean for our definition of 'virtual' and 'real'.
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.'
The Doctor is...At Home?
Welcome to the world of a hospital in your house. In the very near future, this is what it may well be like.
Using Biolabs With Interchangable Chips
Currently, there are several biochip lab devices available. Each takes a small number of compatible, disposable biochips. The lab powers the biochips, maintains a sterile environment, and controls the fluid gates for each sample. The only problem is, each can only handle one condition, so hundreds of labs are required for every condition. Surely there is another way?
Diagnosis of any illnesses, sudden injuries, or deterioration of conditions is something traditionally done in a doctor's clinic or in a hospital. Yet, with the proliferation of technologies to imbed computer components in our clothes and bodies, it is perfectly feasible to slip into your daily health check when you don something from your wardrobe at the start of the day.
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Ultimately, in order to connect to a virtual body fully, will most likely involve a neuroprosthetic; a device that connects the neurons of the brain or central nervous system directly to the I/O of the simulation computers.
A Selection Of The Dark Uses For SimStim
SimStim of Simulated Stimulation, is a powerful technology under development. There are always those who would use a technology to evil ends, and sensory recordings can certainly do much evil. Twenty-six examples of the less wholesome uses this will almost certainly be put to.
Hooking Neuroprosthetics to the limbs
A story about the state of tech at the end of 2006. Neuroprosthetic devices had some concrete success stories in the past few years, and the stage was finally set for developing them, not to just monitor and interact with brain signals, but control external body parts as well.
How Uploading Works
Adapted from a lecture given by Marshall Brain at the 2nd Annual Workshop on Geoethical Nanotechnology, this resource looks at the concept of mind uploading - transferring a conscious mind into a computer - and tries to use common metaphors to explain the subject to the layperson.
Neuroprosthetics, Brain Emulation and Mind Uploading: The ultimate VR concepts
Neuroprosthetics, brain emulation and mind uploading are together perhaps the most extreme end of the trend towards virtual reality. All three are BMI, or Brain-Machine Interface. BMI is an old field, stretching back over six decades, concerned with direct-connecting the human brain to machines, in order to improve the function of both.
SimStim is literally Simulated Stimulation, and is a logical parallel to VR. Rather than experiencing a full VR or AR experience in which your mind is placed inside a metaverse matrix, a completely simulated reality; or the joys of physical reality -meatspace- with additional VR components grafted on, SimStim opens up a third possibility.
Virtual Voice: Using BMI to Control an Artificial Larynx
A larynx or voicebox is a complex piece of kit to control. Creating an interface for a fully functional artificial one may be beyond us - unless we jack it straight into the brain, and let the nervous system control the new, just the same as the old.
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Disability, race, religion, gender, age, culture; all the boundaries which divide and segregate our populace, can be addressed, and at least lessened by one person spending time in the shoes of the other. This is something a virtual body will facilitate, to whatever degree is desired.
Game Law: Everybody Conga?
Remember those old movies with the long conga line in them? Well, imagine that the line is a line of gamers. But some of the gamers can't dance. So, no conga for them. They're just watching their friends have fun while dealing with a frustrated desire to dance themselves. That is what it is like for an estimated 20-25% of the population over the age of 17. This is because these potential gamers have one or more physical or cognitive disabilities. Games and VR worlds do not provide for them, so they cannot participate.
Paedophile Brains, can VR Help?
Paedophilia, the sexual attraction of adults to children, is a significant public health concern and it does not respond well to normal treatment. If the wiring in the brain is indeed different, then this is why traditional therapy does not work in these cases. Perhaps...Perhaps a virtual reality can
Podcast: Better Life
Not so much a podcast, as a song with CGI accompaniment, this video is still a very powerful illustration of just why VR is such a powerful tool for the disabled. Be forewarned: It is very difficult to watch/listen to this one without tears forming.
Racial Equality in VR Forms
Race is the enduring, heartbreaking problem of modern, multinational society. No matter the country, no matter the society, if there are people who are visually or culturally different from other people, the race card flares. VR cannot of course sweep all of that away overnight. It can however offer another way, after all, race is all about the physical, and VR is very good at making the physical, not matter.
Virtual Child Predation to Stop Physical Predation
At the time of writing this, there has been a massive brouhaha between the German Government and the virtual environment Second Life, over two objectionable issues. One has been the distribution of objectionable material containing children, the other adults dressing up as children for partner pleasure. Could the latter actually be a solution to the former?
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Changing Self Perspective with VR
A key set of experiments building on the rubber hand illusion, have opened the floodgates for full sensory immersion - proving that the brain will identify with the body it perceives itself to be in, not necessarily the body it is housed in.
Virtual Body: Fundamental Concepts: 1
In order to link a mind to a virtual body, which will be controlled by the same subconscious and conscious impulses as a physical body should be, the link connecting the mind to the physical body, save for autonomous finctions, is likely to require severing or blocking for the duration of the virtual immersion.
Virtual Body: Fundamental Concepts: 2
When your physical form is not moving for an extended period of time, you start to develop potential issues. If there is a lack of use of your form for a protracted time, these issues deepen into serious concerns. This list is not exhaustive, but does highlight many of the major concerns with protracted VR usage as an alternate life.