Essay on Reality. What is it?

Submitted By wildwisco
Words: 1946
Pages: 8

Reality. What is it? Today there is an immense pressure and demand for newer, faster, better, and smarter technologies. With fortunes to be made, and a seemingly unlimited demand, technologies such as video games, cell phones, IPods, the Internet, artificial intelligences and virtual ‘realities’ to name a few are developing at an exponential rate. In Nicholas Carr’s 2008 article “Is Google making us stupid” he analyzes both past and present how we as humans tend to adapt and acquire the qualities of the technologies we frequently use. With this recent phenomenon in the digital world, and the push to further develop and perfect virtual ‘realities’ the potential outcomes for this type of technology are essentially endless. The potential consequences are essentially limitless as well. If it is true that humans tend to mimic or develop the qualities of the technologies we commonly use as Carr Suggests, virtual realities could potentially blur our perception of reality and what and where ‘true reality’ is.

Although Carr’s article at first glance may seem rather critical, once read, it becomes apparent that Carr is more skeptical, analytical, and wary more than anything else. Throughout the article, Carr often praises technology and how it has aided him in many ways. He says, “Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes. A few Google searches, some quick clicks on hyperlinks, and I’ve got the telltale fact or pithy quote I was after.” Carr also uses this very same quote to explain how the ease of access to information in minutes if not seconds on the Internet has also negatively affected him. Since using the Internet he explains that his style of reading and learning has become somewhat more impatient in ways. Rather than reading deeply, absorbing, and understanding the content of the material he says, “…Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” This, he, many of his collogues, and myself included have noticed as well. Once a ten-page article was an easy read, and now it is seemingly a lengthy novel, so it is skimmed over like a jet ski on water without a true thorough understanding.
Now move to modern day technologies such as quickly developing virtual ‘realities’. In Frontline Documentary film “Digital Nation-Life on the virtual frontier” produced by Rachel Dretzin, one is able to get an inside look at how virtual ‘realties’, a seemingly unreal possibility, are becoming very real, and how they are, and could potentially be used someday. In the video it shows an experiment in progress at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University. The subject has a head mounted display which displays to her a three dimensional ‘virtual’ world. In this virtual world we see her eating candy, and when she does, she actually moves her hand directly to her mouth. Jeremy Bailenson director of the virtual interaction lab at Stanford comments, “She's actually seeing depth in stereo. You can see that candy coming right into her mouth.” He further goes on to say that in these studies subjects have reported feeling sick or even full after eating virtual candy. Another more astonishing study was conducted on kids to see how they reacted to the virtual world. This experiment called “swimming with the whales’ is carried out by asking the child if he or she remembers swimming with whales when they were two or three years of age. Most of the children answer ‘no’ due to the fact that they never have. Then they put these children in a virtual reality where they see themselves swimming with the whales, and according to Bailenson, around 50% of them believe they actually had swam with whales a week later. This in essence has created a reality that is not real for this child, and many are asking ‘why not?’ Philip Rosedale creator of the game Second Life says, "What does the virtual world look like? It looks like the average of all the things we dream about. It's a…