Okay, on PLoS One, there’s a fascinating article about a Swedish team’s research into The Perceptual Illusion of Body Swapping. For those who don’t like downloading sciencey pdfs, there’s also a summary of the work in Wired, How to Use Neuroscience to Become Your Avatar:
HOW TO USE NEUROSCIENCE TO BECOME YOUR AVATAR
By Alexis Madrigal, Wired, December 02, 2008
Research subjects fitted with goggles that stream video from cameras strapped to another person (or mannequin) can experience that body as their own, neuroscientists say.
And not just in a fluffy, philosophical way: the subjects experienced measurable physiological changes, as reported in the open-access journal Public Library of Science One.
The paper’s authors argue that their work could prove important for future human-robot collaborations — and give hope to those dreaming of uploading their brains after the Singularity. What the researchers have found, they say, is a method for allowing humans to better inhabit non-flesh-and-blood consciousness.
For those who don’t even like to read popular science summaries, here’s the essence: our sense of self depends on what we see from what perspective. Basically, we think we are where are eyeballs are. So if you wear goggles streaming the video feed from someone wearing a camera pointed at your joined hands, and then a third person with a knife threatens those hands, you’ll freak out more when the knife gets close to the other person’s hand than your own. Our neural archictecture hasn’t kept up with technology. This has the most amazing implications for things like telemetry and robotics. Wow. Time to turn the music up and boogie…
15 thoughts on “we are who we see: bodyswap with your avatar”
Hmm, well not sure what it says about me, but I immediately thought of people using this with sex. >>This reminds me of F-tech in < HREF="http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Space-Kelley-Eskridge/dp/1933500131" REL="nofollow">DANGEROUS SPACE<>. The first step toward it maybe?
I think perhaps more like the hyperempathy, i.e. false empathy, imagined empathy, of Octavia Butler’s <>Parable of the Sower<>. So people could be fooled into thinking/feeling stuff but, the way expert actors can trick us into feeling the suspense or lust, not actually feeling what the person is actually feeling. If that makes sense.
Yeah, you’re right – they’re not acutally feeling it, but I was thinking that their body is reacting almost as if they are feeling it. That sounds like it’s pretty real for them… So you know, what’s the difference if the persons’s experience is the same as actually feeling it? With F-tech, they are not actually doing the thing they are feeling…>>Anyway, I know it’s not the same thing, but it reminded me of it, and it’s interesting stuff. Personally, I’ll take actually doing the thing over any kind of faking it anyday. But maybe it would be kind of like watching tv. Maybe we could put those goggles on and connect with some feed over the internet.
Hey, cybersex, or maybe just cyberhugs! The whole idea is uncanny to me. I have enough trouble staying in touch with my own feelings and feeling empathy as it is. I guess I’m one of those people that technology has outstripped. But then, if there was a time machine, I’d go back and kill the person who invented the clock, because I think it ushered in the industrial age, sleep deprivation, and mental illness. Rant, rant, rant!
barbara, I blame the electric light for sleep deprivation. Though from recent research (sorry, don’t remember the source) it turns out we (we in this context being the US) are not nearly as sleep-deprived as was earlier supposed.
This is one time I wouldn’t mind fitting into the norm.>>I’m feeling plenty sleep deprived most of the time…>>I blame only myself for my own sleep deprivation. I can turn the light off. And I suspect if I didn’t have electricity, I’d be burning all manner of things for light… And I suspect I am not alone in this.
I came across a story about this the other day–my favorite part of the write-up was the author’s deadpan remark that “the experimenters were not, however, able to make subjects think they were a box.” Can’t recall where I came across it, but I loved that.>>Anyway, I just finished “Slow River,” and wanted to let you know that I lovedlovedloved it. So awesome. Thanks for writing it!
Sleep deprived: Its almost four in the morning. I need to be up in about two hours for work. My fire alarm is chirping. I need to go the garage and get the ladder so I can change the frigging battery. Yes, I am pleased that it would warn me that my house is on fire but I also must answer to its insistent high pitched chirp which freaked me and the cats into being wide awake now. Where is my Avatar when I need her? Que pasa as to blogging this? :)
That happened to me a long time ago. I took a broom handle and beat it into submission Linda. Faster than the ladder. That’s a rude awakening. Hope you can get back to sleep.
I'm pretty happy to watch the brain be– devalued isn't the right word. Mistrusted. People being skeptical of their own perceptions & conclusions is my favorite. This is why I like cheap science/philosophy tricks like Schrodinger's Cat. Sorry, your common sense is only useful in the mesosphere, & then by no means failsafe. Congrats, you are free of your hardware!
Mordecai, I think your’e talking about the marvelous but over valued rational part of the brain. What about the unconscious, so irritsting because it only informs our perceptions without our volition?
If this were Terminator, Sara and the gang would have to track it down and destroy the inventor. Hmmm, not sure I’d be against it.>>Robin
jennifer, linda, sleep is such bliss. I’m sorry yours is/was fucked up. I hope tonight proves better.>>X., experimenters love to fuck with their subjects :) I wonder what it’s like to think you’re a box… Glad you liked <>SR<>.>>mordicai, what I’d like to see happening is a counterintuitive, paradoxical increase in good people’s self-esteem, to help them feel that mistakes are no big deal, so, hey, it’s cool to experiment, and and decrease in bad people’s self-righteousness. But perhaps that’s about self-esteem, too.>>barbara, I think the unconscious mind rocks. I think the lightning-fast part of us *is* us. Mostly.>>robin, only if we’re talking the first part of the season (Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles). Now they’d all sit around and be angsty and rebellious about it. Sigh.
Wow! that is truly amazing and just goes to show how little we use our brains and how much more there is to learn and explore with the human mind.
Where is the mind? What is it? There’s a growing body of work based on situating mind at the interface of the world and our perceptions of same. One day I’ll get my head around it and write a blog post.
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