This is a special age we are living. New generations are born in a world where all the prophecies of the most talented sci-fi writers are becoming a reality. Who ever thought we were to see holograms of people who are gone? Who thought we were able to enter into virtual dreamworlds which we can smell, touch and feel? Who thought in days where we are still far from coping with the wounds of the 20th century, we could witness human-like robot which can learn by themselves?
But these sci-fi writers wrote with much pessimism. In fact they spoke about their time, which saw the birth of the technological revolution and they were most sceptical about it. Their eyes could see the landing of man on the moon, a world connected in a huge information network and could see the dangers these technological breakthroughs could bring. It is time we hear their warnings.
As creators and developers of Immersive technologies, we at Virtual World think we have the highest responsibility to educate on the damages these digital innovations could bring if not used properly.
VIRTUALIZATION OF EXPERIENCES
There is general consensus that reality as we know it, is a social construct. There is no such thing as true or untrue, real or unreal, actual or virtual. However we as social beings have a need for a symbolic order. With virtual reality, we are introduced to another symbolic order which resembles in its signifier level the world of our social reality. Does it mean we can mistake a vr perception for a " true " perception? Not quite, or at least not yet. There is a lot of technological issues that VR technology has yet to overcome. Those obstacles make our minds to reject virtual experiences as true experiences. But those problems are being solved faster and faster with each passing year. This is a problem of FRAME. The mind can recognise where a virtual experience begins and where it ends.
However, there are some experiences that escape the issue of the frame and can lead to one signifier addressing multiple signifieds of different symbolic orders. We see that when a patient is introduced into a virtual representation of a phobia. The patient knows it is a representation but however it is affected as it was a real one. In other cases we see a person where who has a real need satisfied by a virtual representation. What happens when the representation itself is enough? Here we are in the terrain of the virtualization of experiences. A signifier is a sign on itself. Let us just imagine a person has a first kiss, watch the seas for the first time, a person being exposed to the fear of war, all of them as virtual representations. The human creates a memory of a first experience, a precept, of a reality witch belongs to a symbolic order different to the order of the social reality. In other words the person thinks he had an experience when he actually did not.
It gets worse with children. Kids are still introducing precepts into their minds in order to create concepts that configure their symbolic structure in the terrain of social reality. When a child is exposed to virtual reality for long periods of time or to first experiences of something, he builds his own self in a world which is not. Thus he is bouncing back all the time between two symbolic orders, this is the basis of all psychotic disorder.
Along with the Congress on virtual reality in Virtuality trade shows we commission ourselves with the duty of building plans and strategies to educate and prepare teachers, parents on a correct usage of virtual reality.