Jacking into Cyberspace via Intracranial Nanowires

Neural Pathway

With the production of portable digital computers at an all-time high, intracranial nanowires are looking like a realistic emerging technology. Since the cortical plasticity of the brain is so high, the brain can accept neuroprosthetic devices as though they were natural sensors. An uncomfortable adaptation period might come with the implant, but after a patient works through this they should be otherwise fine. Read More →

Adding Another Dimension to Computer Simulations

Computer Simulations

Four-dimensional space is a difficult concept but this idea is driving a new revolution in programming today. Individuals familiar with August Ferdinand Möbius’ research know that an additional dimension allows a three-dimensional form to be rotated over on top of its mirror image. This gives us the so-called Möbius strip. While computer algorithms that really simulate scalable four-dimensional space are still in their infancy, they’re already making a big splash. Read More →

Show Some Love for the Data Glove

cyberglove2

Data Gloves (or wired gloves or cybergloves), as the name implies, are computer input devices that are worn on the hand like a glove. They utilize motion trackers to translate finger manipulations into electrical signals. In the near future, this technology might revolutionize the way that disabled people are able to access computer resources. Read More →

Exploring Cyberspace Sociology

I recently watched a documentary called Life 2.0 and was fascinated by the notion of Second Life and the societal implications that virtual reality is having on people today. While I’m more interested in the implications this will have on humanity in the future, a current look at this evolving area is intriguing nonetheless. Read More →

3-D Virtual Communication in Our Lives

Virtual presence is the closest technology to teleportation that exists thus far. In fact, it’s possible to make people feel like they’re somewhere else. Certain types of equipment can even allow workers to manipulate things at a remote site while causing them to “feel” that they’re actually there in person.

This raises the question of how to define reality. Virtual reality as an entertainment technology has few ethical questions. Unless a computer becomes a sentient being, a fantasy can be turned off. When objects are being manipulated in the real world however, people might lose their sense of being.

Marvin Minsky defined telepresence in 1980. Telepresence is the art of creating a sense of physical presence at a remote location. Multimedia devices and tactile interfaces can help to cement this illusion.

The Human Media Lab has come up with a unique way to create a 3D holographic videoconferencing system.

While full-blown holographic environments are a long way off, some current technology is actually coming close. For example, a group of researchers at the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University (Ontario) have created a life-sized hologram-like telepod using Microsoft’s Kinect system and a cylindrical display for live, 3D videoconferencing (shown on the right). They refer to the technology as “TeleHuman”: it allows two people to stand in front of their own separate pods and talk to 3D hologram images of one other.

Although 3D holographic video is certainly not a new technology (consider the recent and much-hyped holographic performance of deceased rapper 2Pac at the Coachella music festival), what makes Human Media Lab’s technology unique is the fact that it was created using a video system and some off-the-shelf components. This means this that connecting with others this way could become commonplace within a short period of time. Sweet!

Virtual Presence Moving Forward
Some commonly explored aspects of science fiction might create serious problems in the very near future. Many stories have focused on people wishing to marry machinery for example. Devices that become too much like humans might start to act like them. By cultivating a realistic virtual presence, people might spend their entire lives with a family unit that’s nowhere nearby. Internet dating has already significantly changed the way that people look for interpersonal relationships as well.

Virtual presence might very well be the next step in social networking and personal communications in our lives.

bodipod_crc (PDF Download)

Social Constructs Vanish in the Virtual World

Everything seems to be moving to the Internet these days. Regions of the web don’t necessarily correlate to any real geographical regions and the Internet doesn’t physically exist. It’s interesting to note that virtual reality itself is a social construct.

Virtual philosophies are heavily influenced by science fiction. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Fiction is something that most people can relate with. While it’s unlikely that the present reality actually exists in another virtual universe, virtual philosophies still raise some important questions.

People in a virtual community start to develop the same sorts of social bonds that citizens of physical communities do. Technological innovation is one of the driving forces behind social change. Society itself may very well be moving towards a less concrete reality.

While it seems that human beings are moving towards a technological singularity, individual collective consciousnesses are actually starting to develop. Individuals with special interests are often unable to find people near their homes that share their hobbies.

Forums on the Internet have successfully given people with every interest a place to discuss their hobbies with like-minded folks. Knowledge flows dynamically among people with such interests. A lack of hierarchy has made the flow of knowledge considerably more democratic than it is in the real world. Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that a virtual world already exists today.