TED Conversations

Tom Olson

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Are internet users beginning a surrogate life?

What will we do when our virtual reality becomes so transparent we don't know the diference?

Even now the transparency of virtual life and reality is real. We have created a 2D reality that is essentially an extension of our bodies, like a hamer as a tool to amplify the movement of our ideas. The more time I spend on it the more I want to escape, but at the same time I become more immersed. It's imposible to stop now right?

What will happen when we reinvent the interface and tap into our neurological pathways to create a three dimensional life?

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    Jun 27 2011: we could just cut the power and spend sometime outside for a day or two
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      Jun 28 2011: If you had the power to do that would you?
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        Jun 28 2011: well, id rather not cut the power because AC in phoenix is a must (its 114 today) but i love to camp and i dont watch much tv and could really use less internet at the momment. but ya i would.
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    Jul 1 2011: An interface to tap into our neurological pathways? That would be.... I can't think of the right words. I don't see how someone could confuse virtual reality with the real world, but I agree that we've extended ourselves into the internet in some way. Facebook, Youtube, Lastfm, and my TED account combined pretty well form/reflect by identity.

    As long as you can still function in the real world and take care of your family I don't see the need to stop. There were reports of people in Korea and China dying from exhaustion because they would play World of Warcraft for several days in a row with minimal sleep.
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    Jun 30 2011: You do bring up an excellent point Tom. With each passing generation, more and more people spend more time on the internet then the last. My parents use the computer maybe two or three times a week, were as I am logged on in some way every day. I’m talking about outside of work, recreational use. I kind of see it as TV for other generations. I think it is up to the individual to unplug. I do believe, like you fear, that there will be segments of the population that will plug in and stay in but I don’t see it as an epidemic.
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      Jul 1 2011: My fear arrises when I analyze games like WOW and Farmville ext. When we have control over something we latch on and obsess over it. When the interface its self becomes its own perceived dimension, people could get lost within it and find their new reality more appeasing to their desires. Take super heros for example, at least once in our lives we have fantasized to be counted on the save the day and have but only one flaw against your enemy, but in this case you could make yourself entirely flawless. The future of computing, im my eyes, will become as fast as you can think and most likely connected to your neurological system.

      I just don't know if the transparency matters. obviously it's unpredictable but analyzing the social implications of the idea intrigues me.