New breakthroughs in computer technology can generally be attributed to two industries: pornography and gaming. While there is nothing to be reported in the former area here, the virtual world of games is definitely evolving rapidly.
The question really is in which direction is it going? The O’Reilly Group is at the vanguard of many movements in the computer world, including some new developments just around the corner:
“VR is at that thrilling, fleeting moment when its imminent arrival seems assured, and yet every important question about the shape and nature of its adoption and socioeconomic impact remains unanswered.” – Beau Cronin, writing for Radar/O’Reilly
Game technology certainly seems to be one huge new area for VR. While online games probably cannot support the bandwidth requirements of VR, it seems likely that VR might be the reason why gamers will buy a new generation of PCs.
A little over a month ago I speculated on the potential for VR and what it implied after seeing articles at CES on the Microsoft HoloLens and their initiative to put VR into their new Windows 10 Operating System. And back in October, Facebook bought VR hardware company Oculus for $2 Billion. That’s billion, with a “b.”
Recently, at the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, game makers, developers, and some of the tech industry’s largest companies were in attendance to discuss their latest hardware and software designed to transport players to virtual environments.
What makes this year different? Hollywood has used the idea in its movies for decades (think 3D glasses). Even the technology industry has created prototypes to show from time to time. Now, they’re finally expecting to see high-profile VR devices move closer to consumer products.
Could Video Games Have Spiritual Implications?
Certainly such game hardware could make us experience virtual worlds more realistically. But what are the implications? Could such games help our potential intellectual and spiritual evolution?
Neurotechnology company MindMaze announced a thought-powered virtual reality game system called MindLeap. Based on its proprietary system, which was originally developed for use in the medical field, MindLeap detects brain and muscle activity using mind power along with motion-capture cameras for gameplay in both virtual and augmented reality.
Forbes reported one interesting new application for augmented reality – Nasa Will Be Taking These Augmented Reality Glasses Into Space,
“For NASA, equipping astronauts with these specs could make space flight a lot more manageable for astronauts. The main use would be sending instructions straight to the user’s eye for maintaining and repairing equipment on space shuttles instead of having to carry around stacks of index cards.”
But back on earth the possibility of VR hardware connecting directly to the brain opens up exciting new prospects.
The Power Of The Human Brain
MindMaze founder and CEO Dr. Tej Tadi says that the human brain has the jump on any given movement. The decision to, say, move an arm, comes milliseconds before the action takes place. Being able to track brain and muscle activity lets the company tune into the signals that would go out to an arm to make it move. The neurobiologist explained that motions and movement, along with everything you see and touch, are all integrated in one place in the brain, and MindMaze tracks signals originating from there.
This is in line with experiments that “disprove” free will, where subjects’ brains signaled which arm they would raise before they actually performed the task.
But what about “our operating system?” How will the encoding of data within our cranium or body be affected by the onslaught of sensory information from these virtual environments?
One possibility is that it will “lighten” our identification with the body. As more information is absorbed directly to the brain without the middle-man of the body, perhaps this will lead to a completely different set of conditions for “being human.” We already know that very little of the electronic spectrum is currently received by our known five senses – just a tiny fraction. We also know that animals receive other frequencies beyond our own.
Is it possible that with virtual reality hardware wired into our brains, and bodies, that our own sensory capacity might expand as well?
Perhaps our “evolution” – individually and collectively – is destined to be enhanced by this new technology, whether through games or elsewhere – so that we have a more direct connection with reality, bypassing some of the illusory “circuits” in our current operating system and opening us to entirely new experiences, impressions, and perceptions.
One interesting potential development if VR does go online in a big way, as hardware and bandwidth evolve accordingly, might be in the perception of the individual as him or her “self.”
Right now much of our perceived separation as individuals involves our body and its survival, and the pain it feels in certain circumstances. But what will happen when our minds connect with other minds within virtual worlds, where the body is no longer the source of perceptions and impressions – and they go directly in and out of the brain?
The prospects are literally mind-boggling, and perhaps the evolutionary role of the ego will finally be at an end.
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