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Contributor to project:
The Voyager update project
Gleb Denisov
Los Angeles, US
Immortal since Apr 16, 2007
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    From meganmay
    Polytopia, how does it...
    From meganmay
    it's all in your head
    From meganmay
    ( turning in circles )
    From
    gleb’s project
    The Voyager update project
    Description has not yet been created.
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    Communication of (human like) experience became WiiWare group’s main guiding light in the attempt to update the Voyager Project. Before it morphed into the WiiWare, that guiding light had to be filtered through criteria of nature of human experience, human’s experience of experience, and the notion of “human suit”. In the end (which is just the beginning) WiiWare came and put the humans themselves into the (honorary) seat of the alien, fitting the suit to reveal and share their human experience with humans. WiiWare then continued to pitch itself as a fun game, which will share your experience with your friends (and confuse you while at it), really pressing the share portion. It did not mention (loud enough) however what exactly is experienced and how it is shared. This is where WiiWare gets interesting.

    Reiteration of WiiWare’s functional design as it showed itself in the final presentation is due. After all, the most often asked question about it is “What if WiiWare sends a user a feeling of excruciating pain or some other, undesired by many, sensation? What if it takes control over your brain?” WiiWare at the moment in fact attempts to prevent this issue (that is not to say it sees no merit in not so pleasurable experiences). The users cannot experience anything other than what they have shared with WiiWare. It still is about experiencing the new and sharing it (promise). However, it does not go about in a direct way.

    It works in the following fashion. The user trains WiiWare to recognize and trigger his or her sensations (very important that only sensation is recorded, not actual doing). He or she puts it on then proceeds to perform actions, experience of which is to be recorded by it: tasting a banana, lifting arms, crossing arms, cutting lettuce, eating soap… just name it and do it. Then WiiWare analyzes the patterns and stores their structure in its memory. With this information at hand it can later recreate the same patterns in the human’s brain and make the user experience the above sensations at any moment. Thus WiiWare cannot provide anything other than what the users have taught it to recognize. It cannot induce experience of excruciating pain, unless users actually subject themselves to actual, real, excruciating pain during the training session.

    Even if one did do it, he or she would still not be able to send that experience to a friend. WiiWare realizes that patterns are unique to each user. Thus by simply trying to recreate the same pattern in another person’s brain a similar sensations will not necessarily happen. Thus when users’ friends tell WiiWare to share their mind states, the users do not end up truly feeling their friend’s experiences; they still only receive their own, except in a confused and unnatural order, an order that closely (somewhat) matches their friends’. For example, if you did not enjoy the taste of bananas but your friend does, then, when sharing experience, your idea of banana will become associated with joy of some of your other more favored experience (strawberries!). But all of the experiences are still yours they just have been remapped to match different actions and ideas.

    The question then arises what if WiiWare malfunctions and decides to recreate any random pattern in your brain? The answer is not apparent and is deeply rooted in the “science” behind. The negative effects are plausible. But I do not think that it is a very interesting question, per se, as WiiWare is a thought experiment and not a practical solution (so it says).

    What is interesting about WiiWare is the tension that emerges in the above description and the presentation version, the tension between the idea of sharing experience and the actual design with confusion at the basis of it.

    WiiWare is certainly not capable of sharing experiences the way “sci fi” world suggests (it thinks that is not interesting and intricate enough). WiiWare will not reveal to you what it feels like to be a squirrel or what it feels like to fly. Instead it provides you with a row of completely new kind of experiences - experience becoming aware of limits of your perception. It comes to life when you find yourself lost between what you expect and what you perceive. How it feels to be in those situations are exactly the new experiences WiiWare is talking about!

    Finding yourself in such states of slippage between cognition and perception does not always feel the same. There is a large, uncountable set of varying experiences associated with slippages. Just consider the non WiiWare (ah, so outdated!) mind experiments that you can actually try for yourself right now! I, the author, do not know how it feels for you (you may be a robot and/or alien), thus I will share verbal representation of my experience. When I am doing WiiWare group’s signature mind hack, the crossed arms illusion, the sensation can be described as blank (empty). It feels as if there was a block of information missing, i.e. you know what you are doing is not working but you cannot tell why. But one can eventually train the brain to adapt to the situation and lift the right finger. When doing Aristotle’s illusion (first cross your middle and index fingers, then slide them up and down the bridge of your nose with tips of both fingers touching it) it feels at the same time as if I was touching two objects and as if one of the fingers was numb. In this experiment unlike the previous one actually cannot make sense of the feeling, even if I consciously think to myself ‘I am just touching my nose’, input information coming from fingers still feels awkward and does not make sense. Some other experiments produce unexpected sensations felt in your actual limbs! Not to mention strange feeling that arises, when you attempt to remember sequences of words or digits and realize that you can only hold so many. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? WiiWare thinks so too and expands on it!

    With WiiWare the range of such experiences would undoubtedly grow. Just think about what it would feel like to have sensation of your arm moving while you can clearly see it staying still by your side or to see your arm move and be able to control (to extent) it without having the sensation of it moving. Perhaps, WiiWare could give us insight into what it would feel like to be able to think and control, without having the feeling of “I am thinking and controlling” (although this state is almost contradictory as it asks what is the qualia of not having qualia; but then again who says there is only one level to phenomenal consciousness). The possibilities and their bizarre factor grows as fast as Ackerman numbers!

    Such interaction with WiiWare can lead its users to reconsider the role their brain plays in their lives. Before WiiWare or a very very good neuroscience class the brain is just that thing the textbooks tell us are inside our heads. After WiiWare the brain is that thing which is largely responsible for our interaction with the world and with ourselves. Thus the sharing portion, so emphasized by WiiWare’s pitch, in its essence becomes not so much about what do others experience, instead it is “I really do not know much about what I experience” (that realization alone can change the user to “know at least something” about it). It is also about sharing your experiences with WiiWare itself, however, since WiiWare lacks the human brain to apply the stored neural patterns to there is not much it can do with it except to give it back to you.

    Perhaps, WiiWare’s effect can go even as far as asking if having a human brain is sufficient to share the human experience (provided the user actually truly starts thinking about it and reads couple of books). Can we, let alone aliens, in fact put the human suit on and partake in any human experience? The answer to that question WiiWare will not give.

    If we follow along with Merleau-Ponty’s existential phenomenology we would have to conclude that we cannot separate our consciousness from our body. Whatever the nature of both is, physical or not, they are not just two things (one objective and one subjective) communicating with each other, instead they dependent on each other. Our world, our body, our brain feels a certain way due to the sensory organs located in that very same body (and that very same brain). Change in experience would require the change in consciousness. In this case the original idea of sharing subjective human experience is not quite plausible. Of course, we do not have to agree with this. After all, it’s just philosophy. In that case WiiWare can evolve further to do whatever it wants to do (that may be control and fully immerse).

    It has been mentioned before in our presentations and reflections that WiiWare is a human suit for humans. But I would like to further and suggest that it is a tool to allow each one of us to specifically share experience of ourselves with ourselves. It just may have enough power to poke our subjective “I” and ask it if it is sure there is no any objectivity to it. It also may poke the objective and do the opposite. The brain, mind, body are all too curious to think about. They appear to be objective physical things and yet they may have their subjective experiences and we can claim them to be subjectively ours. Perhaps there is no human suit for humans, instead we are the human suit!

    These are the question that fun-loving WiiWare may ask us. There are probably many more that it can offer. And the best part about it won’t answer them for us or it may even prove itself to be contradictory and impossible to exist. But one thing for sure, it can give character and attention to the quirks and workings of the mysterious and underappreciated organ that is our brain!

    Sun, Mar 23, 2008  Permanent link

    Sent to project: The Voyager update project
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