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ScienceDaily (Feb. 17, 2011) — That feeling of being in, and owning, your own body is a fundamental human experience. But where does it originate and how does it come to be? Now, Professor Olaf Blanke, a neurologist with the Brain Mind Institute at EPFL and the Department of Neurology at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, announces an important step in decoding the phenomenon. By combining techniques from cognitive science with those of Virtual Reality (VR) and brain imaging, he and his team are narrowing in on the first experimental, data-driven approach to understanding self-consciousness.
In recent unpublished work, Blanke and his fellow researchers performed a series of studies in which they immersed subjects, via VR settings, into the body of an avatar, or virtual human. Each subject was fitted with an electrode-studded skullcap to monitor brain activity and exposed to different digital, 3D environments through a head-mounted stereoscopic visor or projections on a large screen.
Blanke and his colleagues then perturbed the most fundamental aspects of consciousness in their subjects, such as "Where am I localized in space" and "What is my body?" by physically touching their real-life volunteers either in or out of sync with the avatar. They even swapped perspectives from first to third person and put their male subjects inside female avatars, all the while measuring the change in brain activity. Use of electrical brain signals meant subjects could stand, move their heads, and (in the most recent experiments) walk with the VR on. Other techniques such as fMRI would have required them to remain still.
The team's results expand on clinical studies done in neurological patients reporting out-of-body experiences. And the data show marked changes in the response of the brain's temporo-parietal and frontal regions -- the parts of the brain responsible for integrating touch and vision into a coherent perception -- compared to a series of control conditions.
"Traditional approaches have not been looking at the right information in order to understand the notion of the 'I' of conscious feeling and thinking," Blanke says. "Our research approaches the self first of all as the way the body is represented in the brain and how this affects the conscious mind. And this concept of the bodily self most likely came before more developed notions of 'I' in the evolutionary development of man."
A deeper understanding of the neurobiological basis for the self could lead to advances in the fields of touch and balance perception, neuro-rehabilitation, and pain treatments, contribute to the understanding of neurological and psychiatric disease, and have impacts on the fields of robotics and virtual reality.
But finding basic brain response to VR is just the beginning. Next up for the researchers is to induce stronger illusions of the self by altering signals of balance and limb position -- two very powerful bodily cues. Once subjects can no longer distinguish between the real and the virtual self, cognitive science and brain imaging may be able to glimpse the causal mechanisms of self-consciousness and solve the mystery of the "I" once and for all.
Simulated reality is the proposition that reality could be simulated—perhaps by computer simulation—to a degree indistinguishable from "true" reality. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. In its strongest form, the "simulation hypothesis" claims it is entirely possible and even probable that we are living in a simulated reality.
A simplified version of his argument proceeds as such:
i. It is possible that an advanced civilization could create a computer simulation which contains individuals with artificial intelligence (AI).
ii. Such a civilization would likely run many, billions for example, of these simulations (just for fun, for research or any other permutation of possible reasons).
iii. A simulated individual inside the simulation wouldn’t necessarily know that it is inside a simulation — it is just going about its daily business in what it considers to be the "real world."
Then the ultimate question is — if one accepts that the above premises are at least possible — which of the following is more likely?
a. We are the one civilization which develops AI simulations and happens not to be in one itself?
b. We are one of the many (billions) of simulations that has run? (Remember point iii.)
Originally posted by SeekerofTruth101
Avatar technology already exists today.
The drone aircrafts are already here. Those crafts are guided and controlled by human minds and hands to perform a job several kilometers away.
You can virtually fly and suicide bomb upon targets, and get to live again by using another drone aircraft.
The only difference is that it was a mechanical 'body' avatar you used.
As our sciences advance, more of such mechanical bodies will be created. Nasa has them but it fitted with a 'mind' of its own' - a step in the wrong direction as no machines can ever duplicate the complexities of the human mind, not with today's sciences or even far into the future. Simply machines - yes, such as those in auto trade that does monotonous jobs, but thinking and figuring ones? - better look into avatar tech instead.
Originally posted by badw0lf
Brain to device. That is the future.
Originally posted by chr0naut
reply to post by mOjOm
We have to mentally "play with" the idea of uploading conciousness for a bit more, first.
Because, if we were "virtualised", we'd have the controls.
What if we "played" with our constructs, melded them in ways that we can't in nature. What if we retained "you" and "me" but joined them in ways so that our individualities are no longer distinct.
Who is "you" and who is "me"? It is inevitable that we'd have an intimacy that is something new in the universe.
edit on 18/2/2011 by chr0naut because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by RestingInPieces
THIS IS THE MARK OF THE BEAST!
You won't be able to buy or sell unless you are in your virtual avatar because nobody will be allowed outside!!!!!
RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!