Virtual Reality: The death of morality

Discussion in 'Science and Nature' started by g0pher, Oct 10, 2014.

  1. #1 g0pher, Oct 10, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2014
    \nAs the technology that underpins virtual reality develops and the experiences become increasingly more real, I've been pondering a particularly morbid thought: When will we have the first VR-induced death? Will a realistic rocket launcher blast inTeam Fortress 2 or VR version of Silent Hill give you a heart attack? Will watching the chase sequence in Casino Royale in full VR 3D pump enough adrenaline into your system that your heart beat becomes arrhythmic, eventually leading to death? Will a a VR experience be so realistic that you get so swept up in the moment that you run into a wall or jump out a window?
    \nI've always been fascinated by the interrelationship of real and virtual worlds, and how technological advancement has brought them steadily closer and closer together until it can be very hard to discern the virtual from the real. The simplest virtual worlds - those created in your head with your imagination, perhaps with the aid of a good book - are very easily differentiated from reality (by most humans, anyway). Early digital virtual worlds, likeEverQuest or Discworld MUD, started to blur the lines with persistence, graphics, and other interactive elements that trigger very real-world reactions (both physical and psychosomatic). And now, as we move into an era of ultra-high-resolution displays, 3D audio, and advanced AI, it's possible to create some very real virtual worlds indeed.
    \n[​IMG]It is fairly hard to keep grips on reality when you have a big pair of pitch-black goggles over your face.

    I don't think we've yet seen someone actually scared to death by a modern 3D/VR setup, but it's only a matter of time. The precedent has certainly been set over the last few years, though, especially when it comes to MMOs and other “grindy” games - there have been a handful of cases of people dying of exhaustion because they neglected their basic needs (food, sleep, exercise). In some cases, these people had some kind of underlying condition that made such physically and emotionally intensive experiences more likely to cause death - but as the technology becomes ever more immersive, and designers and architects create games and virtual worlds that are indiscernible from the real thing, I think VR death will be a somewhat regular occurrence.
    \nRead: Virtually perfect: The past, present, and future of VR
    \nEven if you don't agree that VR will scare people to death, at the very least I think we can agree that full VR experiences will be incredibly absorbing. If an MMO like World of Warcraft or Lineage can keep people sitting down for days on end, VR will up the ante considerably. I'm not saying that people will start dropping like flies as soon as the first immersive VR experiences become readily available, but there will definitely be moredeaths from exhaustion and users generally not looking after their physical and emotional needs.
    \n[​IMG]I personally lost eight years of my life playing WoW. Yeah.
    This is before we consider the other inevitable VR-related problems that will be caused by misuse of the technology, irresponsible developers, and dozens of other indirect issues. If an iPod and some headphones can distract someone enough that they walk into the path of some traffic or an oncoming train, imagine the perils of using VR outside the safety of room; even wandering around your house could be dangerous. Despite the relatively low-quality VR produced by Oculus Rift, there are already reports of people experiencing the odd sensation of a fraying, blurring divide between real and virtual that persists for a few minutes after detaching from a VR device. A curious and/or malevolent game developer, after getting a taste for the immersion provided by VR, could easily craft an experience that's intended to cause mental or physical harm.
    \nIndirectly, but still significantly, a whole host of issues might arise if a significant proportion of the populace are constantly strapped into their VR setup. There have already been a few sad cases of parents being so engrossed by a virtual world that their baby/child died from neglect - or worse â€“ and I'm sure it'll only get worse as advanced VR tech matures.
    \nYou think that's air you're breathing?
    One of the best examples of fully immersive VR in fiction is The Matrix, where every human thinks they're leading a normal life, but they're actually wired up to a huge computer that creates a very accurate simulation of real life. In The Matrix, you can escape from the simulation (and the rather gooey VR apparatus) and live in the “real world” - but if your virtual body dies, then you die in the real world as well. The film doesn't fully explain why this is the case; Morpheus just says â€œThe body cannot live without the mind” and leaves it at that.
    \nObviously this isn't really the place for discussing what your mind is capable of  â€“ or whether “minds” or “souls” even exist in the first place - but the wad of fleshy, fatty neurons and hormones that we call a brain is obviously capable of affecting or imposing a wide range of conditions. The placebo effect, somatic disorders, hypochondria - the brain, for whatever reason, has a very strong grip over both your physiology and psychology. If real-life experiences can trigger depression or body dysmorphia, then I see no reason why a high-quality VR experience couldn't also trigger similar physiological or psychological responses.
      Virtual morality
    If we don't want modern VR users to start keeling over from shock or committing PTSD-induced atrocities or jumping off bridges en masse, we may need some kind of code of virtual reality ethics and morality that developers and VR users must adhere to. In much the same way that our behavior in real life is regulated by the societal pressure of what constitutes “normal” ethics and morals, it might do us good to ensure that our VR experiences aren't too depraved.
    \nMost people in the modern world have been brought up in such a way that it's both ethically and morally wrong to murder someone in real life or to abuse a child. I would argue that if our virtual experiences approach the realism of real life - which they surely will - then it would be a good idea for us to try and behave with at least a modicum of morality. This could be as simple as a code of conduct for developers and publishers of VR experiences, or as complex/overreaching as an active policing system that keeps VR users within bounds.
    \nI think it's a foregone conclusion that as VR improves we'll begin to lose our grip on what is real and what isn't - and when that happens, we'll either need some kind of system to regularly remind us that we're in the real world - perhaps a small ear bud that blasts every 30 seconds: do not, I repeat, do not attempt to jump from the roof of a skyscraper â€“ or we'll need to make damn sure that those VR experiences aren't cultivating a civilization of amoral barbarous thugs that love nothing more than gunning down nuns and ram-raiding banks.

  2. Have you seen sword art online?

    hey man. ba-a-a-ack off. I can be a sheep all I want!
  3. Nah havent, i'll check it out
  4. It's a pretty decent anime.. pretty much dealing with this topic. It does raise some interest though, this topic, cause the human brain can really jack a person up if messed with the wrong way. We've probably all had dreams that felt more real than what we'd have liked.. I remember having a few that felt like I could still feel parts of what happened in my dream after I woke up. Obviously we'd want to have some fail safes built in, but nothing is ever perfect.
    I am personally excited over the idea of VR.. there's a ton of potential for good things, but also for bad. One thing I always thought would be cool is connecting while I am sleeping and being able to explore and learn from a virtual reality without negatively effecting my sleep, so you could wake up refreshed, but that was after you just spent so many hours doing whatever you wanted.. Not only that, once we crack the human brain to where we'd be able to do an efficient VR, we'll probably be able to upload information into your brain.
  5. Im just worried about what VR will do to my porn addiction.

    Sent from my SM-G900P using Grasscity Forum mobile app
    Watched the first 3 episodes, love it!
    Second season is just as good too. Had to play catch up with the first season, could watch episodes back to back all night long.. It's not like super philosophical, but I think they did a pretty good job with capturing the essence of how VR could be.
  8. Games wont make us less moral unless the games are set up like real life and people assume if some unethical plan worked in the game it must work in RL. Although that can happen now.
    VR wont cause any more trouble than it does niw. I can see addiction swutching from drugs to games especially when thise games are sex based.
  9. you should watch the movie ExistenZe.  Its good.  The premise of it is basically VR, and gamers that can fully immerse themselves in gameplay.
    I think if we found something similar to that,  then gaming itself would become a much more serious addiction, one that can potentially ruin someones life.  Although, I would still be down for gaming companies to continue to innovate and come up with some awesome and immersive VR.

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