I argue that virtual reality is a sort of genuine reality. In particular, I argue for virtual digitalism, on which virtual objects are real digital objects, and against virtual fictionalism, on which virtual objects are fictional objects. I also argue that perception in virtual reality need not be illusory, and that life in virtual worlds can have roughly the same sort of value as life in non-virtual worlds.
Replication or even modelling of consciousness in machines requires some clariﬁcations and reﬁnements of our concept of consciousness. Design of, construction of, and interaction with artiﬁcial systems can itself assist in this conceptual development. We start with the tentative hypothesis that although the word “consciousness” has no well-deﬁned meaning, it is used to refer to aspects of human and animal informationprocessing. We then argue that we can enhance our understanding of what these aspects might be by designing and building (...) class='Hi'>virtual-machine architectures capturing various features of consciousness. This activity may in turn nurture the development of our concepts of consciousness, showing how an analysis based on information-processing virtual machines answers old philosophical puzzles as well enriching empirical theories. This process of developing and testing ideas by developing and testing designs leads to gradual reﬁnement of many of our pre-theoretical concepts of mind, showing how they can be construed as implicitly “architecture-based” concepts. Understanding how humanlike robots with appropriate architectures are likely to feel puzzled about qualia may help us resolve those puzzles. The concept of “qualia” turns out to be an “architecture-based” concept, while individual qualia concepts are “architecture-driven”. (shrink)
Based on a modern reading of Aristotle’s theory of friendship, we argue that virtual friendship does not qualify as genuine friendship. By ‘virtual friendship’ we mean the type of friendship that exists on the internet, and seldom or never is combined with real life interaction. A ‘traditional friendship’ is, in contrast, the type of friendship that involves substantial real life interaction, and we claim that only this type can merit the label ‘genuine friendship’ and thus qualify as morally (...) valuable. The upshot of our discussion is that virtual friendship is what Aristotle might have described as a lower and less valuable form of social exchange. (shrink)
This paper draws on the notion of the ‘project,’ as developed in the existential philosophy of Heidegger and Sartre, to articulate an understanding of the existential structure of engagement with virtual worlds. By this philosophical understanding, the individual’s orientation towards a project structures a mechanism of self-determination, meaning that the project is understood essentially as the project to make oneself into a certain kind of being. Drawing on existing research from an existential-philosophical perspective on subjectivity in digital game environments, (...) the notion of a ‘virtual subjectivity’ is proposed to refer to the subjective sense of being-in-the-virtual-world. The paper proposes an understanding of virtual subjectivity as standing in a nested relation to the individual’s subjectivity in the actual world, and argues that it is this relation that allows virtual world experience to gain significance in the light of the individual’s projectual existence. The arguments advanced in this paper pave the way for a comprehensive understanding of the transformative, self-transformative, and therapeutic possibilities and advantages afforded by virtual worlds. (shrink)
Are the objects and events that take place in Virtual Reality genuinely real? Those who answer this question in the affirmative are realists, and those who answer in the negative are irrealists. In this paper we argue against the realist position, as given by Chalmers, and present our own preferred irrealist account of the virtual. We start by disambiguating two potential versions of the realist position—weak and strong— and then go on to argue that neither is plausible. We (...) then introduce a Waltonian variety of ictionalism about the virtual, arguing that this sort of irrealist approach avoids the problems of the realist positions, fits with a unifying theory of representational works, and offers a better account of the phenomenology of engaging in virtual experiences. (shrink)
Consider the multi-user virtual worlds of online games such as EVE and World of Warcraft, or the multi-user virtual world of Second Life. Suppose a player performs an action in one of these worlds, via his or her virtual character, which would be wrong, if the virtual world were real. What is the moral status of this virtual action? In this paper I consider arguments for and against the Asymmetry Thesis: the thesis that such (...) class='Hi'>virtual actions are never wrong. I also explain how the truth of the Asymmetry Thesis is closely aligned with the possibility of what Edward Castronova has called closed synthetic worlds. With some qualifications, the ultimate conclusion is that the Asymmetry Thesis is false and that these closed worlds are impossible. (shrink)
Are virtual objects real? I will claim that the question sets us up for the wrong type of conclusion: Chalmers argues that a virtual calculator is a real calculator when it is “organizationally invariant” with its non-virtual counterpart—when it performs calculation. However, virtual reality and games are defined by the fact that they always selectively implement their source material. Even the most detailed virtual car will still have an infinite range of details which are missing. (...) This means that even the most detailed virtual object will still have fictional aspects. Rather than argue that virtual objects are, or aren’t, real, it is preferable to think of overlaps and continuities between the fictional and the real, where even the most painstakingly detailed virtual reality implementation of a non-virtual object is still art: a human process of selection and interpretation. Virtual reality should therefore not be philosophically understood just as a technological implementation on a trajectory to perfection, but as a cultural artifact which derives its value in part from its simplification and difference from its source material. (shrink)
According to the virtual self theory, selves are merely virtual entities. On this view, our self-representations do not refer to any concrete object and the self is a merely intentional entity. This contemporary version of the ‘no-self’ theory is driven by a number of psychological and philosophical considerations indicating that our representations of the self are pervasively inaccurate. I present two problems for VST. First, the case for VST fails to rule out a more moderate position according to (...) which the self exists but is systematically misrepresented by us. This position regards the self as a real entity that has illusory appearances, rather than as a hallucinated entity that has a merely intentional existence. Second, I suggest that this ‘illusion model’ of self-misrepresentation is preferable to VST. Advocates of VST must acknowledge the existence of an entity—typically the brain—that is the bearer of our misrepresentations of the self. I argue that, other things being equal, we should regard the bearer of our self-representations as the self, even if that entity diverges dramatically from the way we represent the self to be. So by acknowledging the existence of a bearer of self-representations, advocates of VST are in a poor position to deny the existence of the self. I conclude that VST not only fails to rule out the illusion model, but that we have prima facie reason to prefer the illusion model to VST. (shrink)
Although the body has been the focus of much contemporary cultural theory, the models that are typically applied neglect the most salient characteristics of embodied existence—movement, affect, and sensation—in favor of concepts derived from linguistic theory. In _Parables for the Virtual_ Brian Massumi views the body and media such as television, film, and the Internet, as cultural formations that operate on multiple registers of sensation beyond the reach of the reading techniques founded on the standard rhetorical and semiotic models. Renewing (...) and assessing William James’s radical empiricism and Henri Bergson’s philosophy of perception through the filter of the post-war French philosophy of Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault, Massumi links a cultural logic of variation to questions of movement, affect, and sensation. If such concepts are as fundamental as signs and significations, he argues, then a new set of theoretical issues appear, and with them potential new paths for the wedding of scientific and cultural theory. Replacing the traditional opposition of literal and figural with new distinctions between stasis and motion and between actual and virtual, _Parables for the Virtual _tackles related theoretical issues by applying them to cultural mediums as diverse as architecture, body art, the digital art of Stelarc, and Ronald Reagan’s acting career. The result is an intriguing combination of cultural theory, science, and philosophy that asserts itself in a crystalline and multi-faceted argument. _Parables for the Virtual_ will interest students and scholars of continental and Anglo-American philosophy, cultural studies, cognitive science, electronic art, digital culture, and chaos theory, as well as those concerned with the “science wars” and the relation between the humanities and the sciences in general. (shrink)
Whilst some philosophical progress has been made on the ethical evaluation of playing video games, the exact subject matter of this enquiry remains surprisingly opaque. ‘Virtual murder’, simulation, representation and more are found in a literature yet to settle into a tested and cohesive terminology. Querying the language of the virtual in particular, I suggest that it is at once inexplicit and laden with presuppositions potentially liable to hinder anyone aiming to construct general philosophical claims about an ethics (...) of gameplay, for whom assumptions about the existence of ‘virtual’ counterparts to morally salient phenomena may prove untrustworthy. Ambiguously straddling the pictorial and the performative aspects of video gaming, the virtual leaves obscure the ways in which we become involved in gameplay, and particularly the natures of our intentions and attitudes whilst grappling with a game; furthermore, it remains unclear how we are to generalise across encounters with the virtual. I conclude by briefly noting one potential avenue of further enquiry into our modes of participation in games: into the differences which a moral examination of playfulness might make to ethical evaluation. (shrink)
The nature of moral action versus moral judgment has been extensively debated in numerous disciplines. We introduce Virtual Reality moral paradigms examining the action individuals take in a high emotionally arousing, direct action-focused, moral scenario. In two studies involving qualitatively different populations, we found a greater endorsement of utilitarian responses–killing one in order to save many others–when action was required in moral virtual dilemmas compared to their judgment counterparts. Heart rate in virtual moral dilemmas was significantly increased (...) when compared to both judgment counterparts and control virtual tasks. Our research suggests that moral action may be viewed as an independent construct to moral judgment, with VR methods delivering new prospects for investigating and assessing moral behaviour. (shrink)
What is it like to be a human being in a simulated world? Will experiencing worlds that are not “actual” change our way of structuring thought? Can virtual worlds open up new possibilities for philosophizing? -/- Virtual Worlds as Philosophical Tools tries to answer those questions from a perspective that is informed and inspired by the philosophy of technology, media theory and the design of digital games. Despite being presented here in a form that is almost exclusively textual, (...) its contents encapsulate the interdisciplinary work of a digital humanist and, as such, are characterized by a degree of practical involvement in the creation and repurposing of digital technology and digitally mediated contents. More specifically, this book emerges from the engagement “in design and development processes that give rise to richer, multidirectional models, genres, iterations of scholarly communication and practice” ( Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0). (shrink)
Virtual Realism is an art form and a way of living with technology. To explain it, Michael Heim draws on a hypertext of topics, from answering machines to interactive art, from engineering to television programs, from the meaning of UFOs to the Internet. The book begins with the primer 'VR 101'. The issues are discussed, then several chapters illustrate virtual realism with tours through art exhibits and engineering projects. Each chapter suggests a harmony of technology with lifestyle.
In this paper I develop the thesis that dreams are essential to an understanding of waking consciousness. In the first part I argue in opposition to the philosophers Malcolm and Dennett that empirical evidence now shows dreams to be real conscious experiences. In the second part, three questions concerning consciousness research are addressed. (1) How do we isolate the system to be explained (consciousness) from other systems? (2) How do we describe the system thus isolated? (3) How do we reveal (...) the mechanisms on which this system is based? I suggest that empirical dream research combined with other empirical approaches can help us to sketch answers to all of these questions. I argue that the subjective form of dreams reveals the subjective, macro-level form of consciousness in general and that both dreams and the everyday phenomenal world may be thought of as constructed “virtual realities”. A major task for empirical consciousness research is to find out the mechanisms which bind this experienced world into a coherent whole. (shrink)
Most philosophers appear to have ignored the distinction between the broad concept of Virtual Machine Functionalism (VMF) described in Sloman&Chrisley (2003) and the better known version of functionalism referred to there as Atomic State Functionalism (ASF), which is often given as an explanation of what Functionalism is, e.g. in Block (1995). -/- One of the main differences is that ASF encourages talk of supervenience of states and properties, whereas VMF requires supervenience of machines that are arbitrarily complex networks of (...) causally interacting (virtual, but real) processes, possibly operating on different time-scales, examples of which include many different procesess usually running concurrently on a modern computer performing various tasks concerned with handling interfaces to physical devices, managing the file system, dealing with security, providing tools, entertainments, and games, and possibly processing research data. Another example of VMF would be the kind of functionalism involved in a large collection of possibly changing socio-economic structures and processes interacting in a complex community, and yet another is illustrated by the kind of virtual machinery involved in the many levels of visual processing of information about spatial structures, processes, and relationships (including percepts of moving shadows, reflections, highlights, optical-flow patterns and changing affordances) as you walk through a crowded car-park on a sunny day: generating a whole zoo of interacting qualia. (Forget solitary red patches, or experiences thereof.) -/- Perhaps VMF should be re-labelled "Virtual MachinERY Functionalism" because the word 'machinery' more readily suggests something complex with interacting parts. VMF is concerned with virtual machines that are made up of interacting concurrently active (but not necessarily synchronised) chunks of virtual machinery which not only interact with one another and with their physical substrates (which may be partly shared, and also frequently modified by garbage collection, metabolism, or whatever) but can also concurrently interact with and refer to various things in the immediate and remote environment (via sensory/motor channels, and possible future technologies also). I.e. virtual machinery can include mechanisms that create and manipulate semantic content, not only syntactic structures or bit patterns as digital virtual machines do. -/- Please note: Click on the title above or the link below to read the paper. I prefer to keep all my papers freely accessible on my web site so that I can correct mistakes and add improvements. -/- http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/vm-functionalism.html -/- This is now part of the Meta-Morphogenesis project: http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/meta-morphogenesis.html. (shrink)
Can trust evolve on the Internet between virtual strangers? Recently, Pettit answered this question in the negative. Focusing on trust in the sense of ‘dynamic, interactive, and trusting’ reliance on other people, he distinguishes between two forms of trust: primary trust rests on the belief that the other is trustworthy, while the more subtle secondary kind of trust is premised on the belief that the other cherishes one’s esteem, and will, therefore, reply to an act of trust in kind (...) (‘trust-responsiveness’). Based on this theory Pettit argues that trust between virtual strangers is impossible: they lack all evidence about one another, which prevents the imputation of trustworthiness and renders the reliance on trust-responsiveness ridiculous. I argue that this argument is flawed, both empirically and theoretically. In several virtual communities amazing acts of trust between pure virtuals have been observed. I propose that these can be explained as follows. On the one hand, social cues, reputation, reliance on third parties, and participation in (quasi-) institutions allow imputing trustworthiness to varying degrees. On the other, precisely trust-responsiveness is also relied upon, as a necessary supplement to primary trust. In virtual markets, esteem as a fair trader is coveted while it contributes to building up one’s reputation. In task groups, a hyperactive style of action may be adopted which amounts to assuming (not: inferring) trust. Trustors expect that their virtual co-workers will reply in kind while such an approach is to be considered the most appropriate in cyberspace. In non-task groups, finally, members often display intimacies while they are confident someone else ‘out there’ will return them. This is facilitated by the one-to-many, asynchronous mode of communication within mailing lists. (shrink)
In this age of DNA computers and artificial intelligence, information is becoming disembodied even as the "bodies" that once carried it vanish into virtuality. While some marvel at these changes, envisioning consciousness downloaded into a computer or humans "beamed" _Star Trek_-style, others view them with horror, seeing monsters brooding in the machines. In _How We Became Posthuman,_ N. Katherine Hayles separates hype from fact, investigating the fate of embodiment in an information age. Hayles relates three interwoven stories: how information lost (...) its body, that is, how it came to be conceptualized as an entity separate from the material forms that carry it; the cultural and technological construction of the cyborg; and the dismantling of the liberal humanist "subject" in cybernetic discourse, along with the emergence of the "posthuman." Ranging widely across the history of technology, cultural studies, and literary criticism, Hayles shows what had to be erased, forgotten, and elided to conceive of information as a disembodied entity. Thus she moves from the post-World War II Macy Conferences on cybernetics to the 1952 novel _Limbo_ by cybernetics aficionado Bernard Wolfe; from the concept of self-making to Philip K. Dick's literary explorations of hallucination and reality; and from artificial life to postmodern novels exploring the implications of seeing humans as cybernetic systems. Although becoming posthuman can be nightmarish, Hayles shows how it can also be liberating. From the birth of cybernetics to artificial life, _How We Became Posthuman_ provides an indispensable account of how we arrived in our virtual age, and of where we might go from here. (shrink)
What is the status of a cat in a virtual reality environment? Is it a real object? Or part of a fiction? Virtual realism, as defended by D. J. Chalmers, takes it to be a virtual object that really exists, that has properties and is involved in real events. His preferred specification of virtual realism identifies the cat with a digital object. The project of this paper is to use a comparison between virtual reality environments (...) and scientific computer simulations to critically engage with Chalmers’s position. I first argue that, if it is sound, his virtual realism should also be applied to objects that figure in scientific computer simulations, e.g. to simulated galaxies. This leads to a slippery slope because it implies an unreasonable proliferation of digital objects. A philosophical analysis of scientific computer simulations suggests an alternative picture: The cat and the galaxies are parts of fictional models for which the computer provides model descriptions. This result motivates a deeper analysis of the way in which Chalmers builds up his realism. I argue that he buys realism too cheap. For instance, he does not really specify what virtual objects are supposed to be. As a result, rhetoric aside, his virtual realism isn’t far from a sort of fictionalism. (shrink)
This paper argues that Moore's principle of organic unities is false. Advocates of the principle have failed to take note of the distinction between actual intrinsic value and virtual intrinsic value. Purported cases of organic unities, where the actual intrinsic value of a part of a whole is allegedly defeated by the actual intrinsic value of the whole itself, are more plausibly seen as cases where the part in question has no actual intrinsic value but instead a plurality of (...) merely virtual intrinsic values. (shrink)
Videogames present deep challenges for traditional concepts of sport and games. Cybersport in particular suggests that sport might be transposed into digital arenas, and videogames in general provide apparently striking counterexamples to the orthodox Suitsian theory of games, seeming to lack strictly prelusory goals and perhaps even also constitutive rules. I argue as follows: if any cybersports count as genuine sports, it will be those most closely resembling uncontroversial core instances of sport, those that essentially involve gross motor skill. Even (...) so, we might reject cybersports as sport by distinguishing physical skills’ domain of execution from their domain of application, sport implying the non-virtual status of both. Although, like chess, videogames appear to lack prelusory goals, chess conventions and nominal descriptions of the object of any videogame suggest the possibility of Suitsian compliance, as does the inclusion of ‘cheat codes’ in videogame programming. Perhaps such... (shrink)
The Web, in particular real-time interactions in three-dimensional virtual environments (virtual worlds), comes with a set of unique characteristics that leave our traditional frameworks inapplicable. The present article illustrates this by arguing that the notion of “technology relations,” as put forward by Ihde and Verbeek, becomes inapplicable when it comes to the Internet, and this inapplicability shows why these phenomena require new philosophical frameworks. Against this background, and more constructively, the article proposes a fundamental distinction between “intravirtual” and (...) “extravirtual” consequences—a distinction that allows us to understand and conceptualize real-time interactions online more accurately. By relating this distinction to Searle's notion of “condition of satisfaction,” the article also shows its implications for judging real-time, online interactions in virtual worlds as irrational and/or immoral. The ultimate purpose is to illustrate how new philosophical concepts and frameworks can allow us to better account for the unique characteristics of the Internet. (shrink)
The United States Supreme Court hasrecently ruled that virtual child pornographyis protected free speech, partly on the groundsthat virtual pornography does not harm actualchildren. I review the evidence for thecontention that virtual pornography might harmchildren, and find that it is, at best,inconclusive. Saying that virtual childpornography does not harm actual children isnot to say that it is completely harmless,however. Child pornography, actual or virtual,necessarily eroticizes inequality; in a sexistsociety it therefore contributes to thesubordination of women.
The economic explanation of individual behaviour, even behaviour outside the traditional province of the market, projects a distinctively economic image on the minds of the agents involved. It suggests that, in regard to motivation and rationality, they conform to the profile of homo economicus. But this suggestion, by many lights, flies in the face of common sense; it conflicts with our ordinary assumptions about how we each feel and think in most situations, certainly most non-market situations, and about how that (...) feeling and thought manifests itself in action. What, then, to conclude? That common sense is deeply in error on these matters? That, on the contrary, economics is in error—at least about non-market behaviour—and common sense sound? Or that some form of reconciliation is available between the two perspectives? This paper is an attempt to defend a conciliationist position. (shrink)
When certain formal symbol systems (e.g., computer programs) are implemented as dynamic physical symbol systems (e.g., when they are run on a computer) their activity can be interpreted at higher levels (e.g., binary code can be interpreted as LISP, LISP code can be interpreted as English, and English can be interpreted as a meaningful conversation). These higher levels of interpretability are called "virtual" systems. If such a virtual system is interpretable as if it had a mind, is such (...) a "virtual mind" real? This is the question addressed in this "virtual" symposium, originally conducted electronically among four cognitive scientists: Donald Perlis, a computer scientist, argues that according to the computationalist thesis, virtual minds are real and hence Searle's Chinese Room Argument fails, because if Searle memorized and executed a program that could pass the Turing Test in Chinese he would have a second, virtual, Chinese-understanding mind of which he was unaware (as in multiple personality). Stevan Harnad, a psychologist, argues that Searle's Argument is valid, virtual minds are just hermeneutic overinterpretations, and symbols must be grounded in the real world of objects, not just the virtual world of interpretations. Computer scientist Patrick Hayes argues that Searle's Argument fails, but because Searle does not really implement the program: A real implementation must not be homuncular but mindless and mechanical, like a computer. Only then can it give rise to a mind at the virtual level. Philosopher Ned Block suggests that there is no reason a mindful implementation would not be a real one. (shrink)
A macroscopic realization of the peculiar virtual particles is presented. The classical Helmholtz and the Schrödinger equations are differential equations of the same mathematical structure. The solutions with an imaginary wave number are called evanescent modes in the case of elastic and electromagnetic fields. In the case of non-relativistic quantum mechanical fields they are called tunneling solutions. The imaginary wave numbers point to strange consequences: The waves are non-local, they are not observable, and they are described as virtual (...) particles. During the last two decades QED calculations of the solutions with an imaginary wave number have been experimentally confirmed for phonons, photons, and electrons. The experimental proofs of the predictions of non-relativistic quantum mechanics and the Wigner phase time approach for the elastic, electromagnetic and Schrödinger fields will be presented in this article. The results are zero time in the barrier and an interaction time (i.e. a phase shift) at the barrier interfaces. The measured tunneling time scales approximately inversely with the particle energy. Actually, the tunneling time is given only by the barrier boundary interaction time, as zero time is spent inside a barrier. (shrink)
The received view in philosophical studies of quantum field theory is that Feynman diagrams are simply calculational devices. Alongside this view we have the one that takes virtual quanta to be also simply formal tools. This received view was developed and consolidated in philosophy of physics by Mario Bunge, Paul Teller, Michael Redhead, Robert Weingard, Brigitte Falkenburg, and others. In this article I present an alternative to the received view.
This book looks at the origins and the many contemporary meanings of the virtual. Rob Shields shows how the construction of virtual worlds has a long history. He examines the many forms of faith and hysteria that have surrounded computer technologies in recent years. Moving beyond the technologies themselves he shows how the virtual plays a role in our daily lives at every level. The virtual is also an essential concept needed to manage innovation and risk. (...) It is real but not actual, ideal but not abstract. The virtual, he argues, has become one of the key organizing principles of contemporary society in the public realms of politics, business and consumption as well as in our private lives. (shrink)
Multi-user online environments involve millions of participants world-wide. In these online communities participants can use their online personas – avatars – to chat, fight, make friends, have sex, kill monsters and even get married. Unfortunately participants can also use their avatars to stalk, kill, sexually assault, steal from and torture each other. Despite attempts to minimise the likelihood of interpersonal virtual harm, programmers cannot remove all possibility of online deviant behaviour. Participants are often greatly distressed when their avatars are (...) harmed by other participants’ malicious actions, yet there is a tendency in the literature on this topic to dismiss such distress as evidence of too great an involvement in and identification with the online character. In this paper I argue that this dismissal of virtual harm is based on a set of false assumptions about the nature of avatar attachment and its relation to genuine moral harm. I argue that we cannot dismiss avatar attachment as morally insignificant without being forced to also dismiss other, more acceptable, forms of attachment such as attachment to possessions, people and cultural objects and communities. Arguments against according moral significance to virtual harm fail because they do not reflect participants’ and programmers’ experiences and expectations of virtual communities and they have the unintended consequence of failing to grant significance to attachments that we take for granted, morally speaking. Avatar attachment is expressive of identity and self-conception and should therefore be accorded the moral significance we give to real-life attachments that play a similar role. (shrink)
The importance of online social spaces is growing. New Web 2.0 resources allow the creation of social networks by any netizen with minimal technical skills. These communities can be extremely narrowly focussed. In this paper, I identify two potential costs of membership in narrowly focussed virtual communities. First, that narrowly focussed communities can polarise attitudes and prejudices leading to increased social cleavage and division. Second, that they can lead sick individuals to revel in their illness, deliberately indulging in their (...) disease and denying the edicts of the medical profession. I specifically examine illness communities centred on the now defunct Multiple Personality Disorder. I highlight these potential problems and point to some technologies that may help combat them. (shrink)
The rapid evolution of information, communication and entertainment technologies will transform the lives of citizens and ultimately transform society. This paper focuses on ethical issues associated with the likely convergence of virtual realities and social networks, hereafter VRSNs. We examine a scenario in which a significant segment of the world’s population has a presence in a VRSN. Given the pace of technological development and the popularity of these new forms of social interaction, this scenario is plausible. However, it brings (...) with it ethical problems. Two central ethical issues are addressed: those of privacy and those of autonomy. VRSNs pose threats to both privacy and autonomy. The threats to privacy can be broadly categorized as threats to informational privacy, threats to physical privacy, and threats to associational privacy. Each of these threats is further subdivided. The threats to autonomy can be broadly categorized as threats to freedom, to knowledge and to authenticity. Again, these three threats are divided into subcategories. Having categorized the main threats posed by VRSNs, a number of recommendations are provided so that policy-makers, developers, and users can make the best possible use of VRSNs. (shrink)
In the standard formalism of quantum gravity, black holes appear to form statistical distributions of quantum states. Now, however, we can present a theory that yields pure quantum states. It shows how particles entering a black hole can generate firewalls, which however can be removed, replacing them by the ‘footprints’ they produce in the out-going particles. This procedure can preserve the quantum information stored inside and around the black hole. We then focus on a subtle but unavoidable modification of the (...) topology of the Schwarzschild metric: antipodal identification of points on the horizon. If it is true that vacuum fluctuations include virtual black holes, then the structure of space-time is radically different from what is usually thought. (shrink)
Based on neurobiological data, modern concepts of self-organization and a careful rationale, the hypothesis is put forward that the fleeting, highly ordered patterns of electric and/or magnetic fields, generated by assemblies of dendritic trees of specialized neuronal networks, should be thought of as the end-product of chaotic, dynamically governed self-organization. Such patterns encode for subjective experiences such as pain and pleasure, or perceiving colours. Because by quantum mechanical definition virtual photons are the theoretical constituents of electric and magnetic fields, (...) the former hypothesis can be re-formulated as follows: it is the highly ordered patterns of virtual photons that encode for subjective experiences. Arguments are then given that consciousness did not emerge during evolution only after neuronal networks had been formed able to generate electric and/or magnetic fields of sufficient complexity but, rather, that subjectivity already existed in a very elementary form as a fundamental property of the omnipresent virtual photons, i.e., of matter. The contribution of neuronal networks to consciousness was to generate highly ordered patterns of germs of subjectivity , so allowing complex subjective experiences. Due to the omnipresence of virtual photons, it follows finally that the whole universe must be imbued with subjectivity. An experimental strategy is proposed to test the hypothesis. (shrink)
Is virtual reality the latest grand narrative that humanity has produced? This book attempts to disentangle the common characteristics of human reality and posthuman virtual reality by examining discourses on psychoanalysis, gene-technology, globalization, and contemporary art.
Bergson, writing in 1896, anticipated “sensorimotor contingencies” under the concept that perception is “virtual action.” But to explain the external image, he embedded this concept in a holographic framework where time-motion is an indivisible and the relation of subject/object is in terms of time. The target article's account of qualitative visual experience falls short for lack of this larger framework. [Objects] send back, then, to my body, as would a mirror, their eventual influence; they take rank in an order (...) corresponding to the growing or decreasing powers of my body. The objects which surround my body reflect its possible action upon them. – Henri Bergson (1896/1912, pp. 6–7). (shrink)
From the early 1990s when the EZLN (the Zapatistas), led by Subcommandte Marcos, first made use of the Internet to the late 1990s with the defeat of the Multilateral Agreement on Trade and Investment and the anti-WTO protests in Seattle, Quebec, and Genoa, it became evident that new, qualitatively different kinds of social protest movements were emergent. These new movements seemed diffuse and unstructured, yet at the same time, they forged unlikely coalitions of labor, environmentalists, feminists, peace, and global social (...) justice activists collectively critical of the adversities of neoliberal globalization and its associated militarism. Moreover, the rapid emergence and worldwide proliferation of these movements, organized and coordinated through the Internet, raised a number of questions that require rethinking social movement theory. Specifically, the electronic networks that made contemporary globalization possible also led to the emergence of "virtual public spheres" and, in turn, "Internetworked Social Movements." Social movement theory has typically focused on local structures, leadership, recruitment, political opportunities, and strategies from framing issues to orchestrating protests. While this tradition still offers valuable insights, we need to examine unique aspects of globalization that prompt such mobilizations, as well as their democratic methods of participatory organization and clever use of electronic media. Moreover, their emancipatory interests become obscured by the "objective" methods of social science whose "neutrality" belies a tacit assent to the status quo. It will be argued that the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory offers a multi-level, multi-disciplinary approach that considers the role of literacy and media in fostering modernist bourgeois movements as well as anti- modernist fascist movements. This theoretical tradition offers a contemporary framework in which legitimacy crises are discussed and participants arrive at consensual truth claims; in this process, new forms of empowered, activist identities are fostered and negotiated that impel cyber activism. (shrink)
This virtual special issue of the Journal of Business Ethics is dedicated to the role that social theory and sociological research can play in understanding business ethics in the contemporary world. Articles have been selected for this virtual issue that highlight the insights provided by the long tradition of sociological theorising, that focus upon enduring social problems and which deal with particularly twenty-first century issues.
This article examines the financial technology of derivatives. Derivatives are financial products whose values are based on possible fluctuations in the values of underlying assets. Hence derivatives markets are markets that trade in the risks of other markets. In order for derivatives markets to function, forms of prognostication that can assess the possible future fluctuations of the underlying markets are necessary. What such prognostications do, the article argues, is to create information out of future possibilities. Building upon a notion of (...) virtuality derived from Gilles Deleuze, Ulrich Beck and Niklas Luhmann, the article shows how market risks and uncertainties, by means of prognostications, cease to be mere possibilities and instead come to have virtual existence. Through the technology of derivatives, uncertainty and risk can be rendered virtual and be traded. The article suggests that this technology is an example of a new way in which capitalism is now expanding self-referentially as it creates markets out of markets; and of how it is colonizing the future by developing new technologies for ‘hyper-speculation’, that is, speculation not in the possible developments of a given asset but simply in the risk of such speculation. (shrink)
Of all twentieth century philosophers, it is Gilles Deleuze whose work agitates most forcefully for a worldview privileging becoming over being, difference over sameness; the world as a complex, open set of multiplicities. Nevertheless, Deleuze remains singular in enlisting mathematical resources to underpin and inform such a position, refusing the hackneyed opposition between ‘static’ mathematical logic versus ‘dynamic’ physical world. This is an international collection of work commissioned from foremost philosophers, mathematicians and philosophers of science, to address the wide range (...) of problematics and influences in this most important strand of Deleuze’s thinking. Contributors are Charles Alunni, Alain Badiou, Gilles Châtelet, Manuel DeLanda, Simon Duffy, Robin Durie, Aden Evens, Arkady Plotnitsky, Jean-Michel Salanskis, Daniel Smith and David Webb. (shrink)
Beginning with the well-knowncyber-rape in LambdaMOO, I argue that it ispossible to have real moral wrongs in virtualcommunities. I then generalize the account toshow how it applies to interactions in gamingand discussion communities. My account issupported by a view of moral realism thatacknowledges entities like intentions andcausal properties of actions. Austin's speechact theory is used to show that real people canact in virtual communities in ways that bothestablish practices and moral expectations, andwarrant strong identifications betweenthemselves and their online identities. (...) Rawls'conception of a social practice is used toanalyze the nature of the wrong and thestage-setting aspect of engaging in a practice. (shrink)
Realistic uses of Virtual Reality technology closely integrate user training on virtual objects with VR-assisted user interactions with real objects. This paper shows how the Interactive Theory of Perception may be extended to cover such cases. Virtual objects are explained as concrete models that have an inner generation mechanism, and the ITP is used to explain how VR users can both perceive such local CMs, and perceptually represent remote real objects. Also, concepts of modeling and representation are (...) distinguished. The paper concludes with suggestions as to how the ITP methodology developed here could be extended to iconic external representations and models generally. (shrink)