Sunday, March 9, 2014

Avatars and Their Behavioral Effect on Reality

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Nicholas West
Activist Post

For those unfamiliar with the full goals of The Singularity Movement, it is valuable to visit the website 2045 -- the theoretical date when computer intelligence surpasses that of humanity, thus establishing a new form of social and economic contract.

Just a short while ago -- more or less yesterday -- a "Rise of the Robots" scenario was being debated for its potential Utopian and Dystopian outcomes. Then the movie Avatar supplanted Terminator to reflect an entirely new possibility.

It didn't take very long: the Avatar has now arrived, and scientists are beginning to study the effects of how virtual reality can impact one's perception of themselves and those around them in the real world. Early conclusions are troubling.

The Avatar Project has very clear milestones as documented on the 2045 website. They are as follows:

A roadmap also illustrates the progression:

New Scientist announced in July of last year a significant step in merging reality with virtual reality. The model avatar took the body of a four-year-old child. It's was a tentative step, as would be the case with any four-year-old, but suggested that the mind can begin to merge with any body it wishes inside the digital landscape:
Mel Slater of the University of Barcelona in Spain and colleagues put 30 people in a virtual reality (VR) environment in the body of a 4-year-old child or a scaled-down adult the same height as the child. The virtual body, which moved in sync with movements of the real body, could be viewed from a first-person perspective and in a mirror in the VR environment. 
Prior research by Slater's team shows that when a person acquires a body type they have never experienced, social and cultural expectations often influence how they relate to the new body.
Studies are underway to take into account the two-way nature of this information/perception transfer.

Concurrently, it appears that similar to one's preconceptions in the real world impacting the virtual experience, actions taken in the virtual world are being shown to impact the primary reality:
Things we experience in a virtual landscape can also have profound effects on our behaviour in the real world: in a separate study by researchers at Stanford University in California, giving people superhero powers in a virtual environment made them behave in a more helpful manner in real life. 
The researchers say that brain imaging studies would help them to understand the reorganisation that occurs when assimilating a new body. The motivation springs from a project looking at how to embody people in child-sized robots. "We thought we ought to look at the consequences of that first," says Slater.
A more recent study published in the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology - Psychological Science - drew similar conclusions about how the virtual world can impact the real, and gives further insight into how easily a "player" can become programmed. This would seem to lend credence to those who assert that violent video games, for example, can lead to aberrant behavior that models the role one has assumed in the game. As the study illustrates, one does not necessarily need to identify with the character, which would rule out the argument that people with violent tendencies who play violent video games are prone to violent action later. With the added immersion of virtual reality, this potential is likely amplified.
"Our results indicate that just five minutes of role-play in virtual environments as either a hero or villain can easily cause people to reward or punish anonymous strangers," says lead researcher Gunwoo Yoon of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
As Yoon and co-author Patrick Vargas note, virtual environments afford people the opportunity to take on identities and experience circumstances that they otherwise can't in real life, providing "a vehicle for observation, imitation, and modeling."
They wondered whether these virtual experiences — specifically, the experiences of taking on heroic or villainous avatars — might carry over into everyday behavior.
The researchers recruited 194 undergraduates to participate in two supposedly unrelated studies. The participants were randomly assigned to play as Superman (a heroic avatar), Voldemort (a villainous avatar), or a circle (a neutral avatar). They played a game for 5 minutes in which they, as their avatars, were tasked with fighting enemies. Then, in a presumably unrelated study, they participated in a blind taste test. They were asked to taste and then give either chocolate or chili sauce to a future participant. They were told to pour the chosen food item into a plastic dish and that the future participant would consume all of the food provided.
The results were revealing: Participants who played as Superman poured, on average, nearly twice as much chocolate as chili sauce for the "future participant." And they poured significantly more chocolate than those who played as either of the other avatars.
Participants who played as Voldemort, on the other hand, poured out nearly twice as much of the spicy chili sauce than they did chocolate, and they poured significantly more chili sauce compared to the other participants.
A second experiment with 125 undergraduates confirmed these findings and showed that actually playing as an avatar yielded stronger effects on subsequent behavior than just watching someone else play as the avatar.
Interestingly, the degree to which participants actually identified with their avatar didn't seem to play a role:
"These behaviors occur despite modest, equivalent levels of self-reported identification with heroic and villainous avatars, alike," Yoon and Vargas note. "People are prone to be unaware of the influence of their virtual representations on their behavioral responses."
The researchers hypothesize that that arousal, the degree to which participants are 'keyed into' the game, might be an important factor driving the behavioral effects they observed.
The findings, though preliminary, may have implications for social behavior, the researchers argue:
"In virtual environments, people can freely choose avatars that allow them to opt into or opt out of a certain entity, group, or situation," says Yoon. "Consumers and practitioners should remember that powerful imitative effects can occur when people put on virtual masks." (Source) [emphasis added]
These studies are being done as Ray Kurzweil's vision to merge our bodies and brains with cloud computing via DNA nanobots is coming closer to fruition.  We would do well to consider the intended and unintended consequences much more closely while the divide between real and virtual still remains perceptible.

7 Future Methods of Mind Control

Recently by Nicholas West:
Updated 3/9/2014

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Anonymous said...

Awesome, cool .... whatever.

"giving people superhero powers in a virtual environment made them behave in a more helpful manner in real life."

Wow, behavior programming through virtual media, and you too can buy into it at your local iStore

Time & resources are limited, this crap is just a distraction.

Anonymous said...

These people I think are the most dangerous and simple people on the planet. They abhor and are afraid to do any type of inner work and positive spiritual growth development. They are so frightened of it, they have closed their brains to it, a cognitive impairment of a serious disorder and a coping mechanism for the childish, immature and the stupid. Their followers are seriously impaired. But the intentional dumbing down of the majority has not been in vain it seems. They are skynet and must be stopped. imho

Ian R Thorpe said...

Let a 30 year computer pro put you straight here. The first program I wrote, in 1968 was loaded from punched paper tape. I stopped being a systems consultant some years ago but have kept in touch.

Now the first thing to know is how a computer works. It parses binary daya and matches digit strings. This is not intelligence in fact is is about as far from human intelligence as it is possible to get.

When I started in computers the boffins and pointy heads were saying within five years computers would be able to think like humans. When I left the profession computers are no nearer thinking like humans. Put the most powerful coputer to a Turing test and it will fail as soon as it is faced with a metaphor, idiom or colloquialism. Computers are literal. Tell one "It is raining cats and dogs" or "you have as much chance of convincing me you're human as a one legged man in an arse kicking competition" and it is stumped. Unless of course it has been programmed to a standard response. They don't do context.

We should not worry too much about these idiots who would rather be machines than humans, they only threat they present is in the amount of taxpayers' money they will spend on such insane projects.

Currently science has no understanding of the process involved in formulating a human though and translating it into words or actions. Emotions however play a huge part. And the scientists behind this project are unaware of the difference between the mind and the brain.

The only way computers will ever be intelligent is if we radically redefine what we mean by intelligent. In my opinion this project is just another exercise in research grant phishing.

As long as we have new media sites like Activist Post to help people hold on to their humanity we will survive.

20075788-f006-11e2-aa4e-000bcdcb2996 said...

Current silicon binary based computers are not up to the job no what the speed or internal architecture. Quantum computers could possibly create the appearance of intelligence but all this is based on the human mind and body consisting of only what can be seen, touched and measured. Most of us know thereÅ› more to us than simple neurons and synapses.

The big question is how many will fall for this BS give up like hoping for immortality. A good facsimile could fool friends and family but the real person will be gone.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when humans become bored.

Anonymous said...

We don't need robots nor AI to to integrate into to become spiritually immortal lol. This is just a way to trap the souls of innocent people and to lock people into a grid. I'm baffled that top scientists in our modern day and age are focusing on such nonsense. The real way to really evolve is to awaken everyone from this fake ass world that we let go downhill and just start to metaphysically change the way we use our brain power. I can guarantee that if we started to install Sensory Deprivation Chambers in everyone's houses and people were able to actually let go of everything and start to evolve spiritually, we would truly be evolving the natural way. None of this fancy immortality through becoming a robot linked to a grid with everyone else. Sounds like world domination to me. Fucking psychopaths running this world if you ask me !

Anonymous said...

epic fail .... we will be lucky to make it 20 more years

Anonymous said...

The human brain is an operative translator for the 3D realm based from the conscious hive mind collective. A computer or AI is a 3D based system contrived from an instrumentality based collective of 1's and zero's.

Until istrumentality draws from the hive mind collective where human consciouness is derived, machines will never be as good as a brain operator.

Afshin Nejat said...

If you do not understand the metaphysics of consciousness, this "transformation" will easily be used as it was intended, to be a mask or screen by which to "pull the wool over your eyes" as your ver consciousness itself is manipulated so that you are put under control NOW, in your CURRENT body so that they, the archons (puppetmasters, the ones on the "control" end of these events) will be able to literally REWRITE the social order AS THEY SEE FIT. This means if you SUBMIT TO THIS (let "this" be whatever it is they require), then you WILL be subject to any results, even if it may mean the devolution of your Spirit (if you have one) into a far lesser stature, and spiritually flayed alive as you are forced into becoming some form of golem, or perhaps multiple golems. By the time this occurs, you may be INCAPABLE of understanding what I'm saying, let alone of MOCKING it, so be warned that it will come as an unpleasant poetic justice AT BEST if you go that route, as an invisible and unknown cap on your meaningless existence, at worst. Let those with ears to hear, listen.

Tyson Bailey said...

As in the days of noah (Atlantis) so shall it be when jesus returns...

Anonymous said...

To Afshin;
I read your post and went to your google "circles" site.
Please believe me when I tell you with the utmost sincerity, avoid any competent psychological evaluations.
It will not bode well.

Renard Moreau said...

[ Smiles ] Most interesting!

Anonymous said...

I call BS. As much chance of this happening as getting flying cars by the year 2000. Come back to reality.

Anonymous said...

This is some wicked shit.
I can't even read it yet.
My first thought was that I am glad I am my age, and simultaneously, glad that I chose not to have children. peace to all and may all that is good have mercy upon us.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous at 2:06, I didn't believe it either, but last week a young friend showed me this: creepy as all.

Anonymous said...

Good to read all the comments. Computerized people doesn't sound good.

Anonymous said...

Kurzweil has daddy issues - has been trying to bring his dead father back - and it's obviously pushed him over the edge. Even if you COULD transfer your personality to a machine, it wouldn't do YOU any good - it's not you, it's copy of you - and would only be appealing to someone who believes that we are just a pile of mildly electrified goop. Reminds me of a short story I read once where this self-centered rich guy would get all fat and sick, then go to a clinic to have his "mind" transferred to a healthy young clone of himself - except, his mind stayed in his sick, fat body as the healthy copy walked out of the clinic ready to do it all again. As soon as the healthy him was out of sight, the people at the clinic called him by his "letter" - you're "G" now - no longer Mr. Rich Guy - and shoved him onto a truck. They took him to a work camp where he got to spend the rest of his life with all the other "fat, and sick" versions of himself as working as slaves. So, I'd have to ask anyone considering this: If you transfer your mind to a machine, which one is "you"? Wouldn't the machine be the "real" you - and the biological being be just a worn out husk to be tossed aside?

Anonymous said...

There are two separate threads here. Firstly, life cannot be uploaded or downloaded from one into another. This is because life is the breath of God, as at Genesis 2, 7, and not a mechanical entity. Thus, life cannot be constructed or manipulated or transferred from one physical entity into another.
Secondly, the danger here is that belief is all. If you are successful in creating an identity for a person, through the virtual realm, that the person fully identifies with, then when you bring them back to reality, they will assert that identity as if they were still in the virtual realm. This is what the Barcelona study shows. This is what previous studies have shown. Immersing young men or women in violent psychopathic scenarios will make them into ideal soldiers when returned to the real world. War always separates one man from another; thus the dehumanizing process will not be tempered by direct exposure to an enemy combatant, thus the projection onto him of for example a rodent-like persona will never be challenged by the soldier, he will treat the enemy as vermin and thus fulfill his owner's agenda for destruction. I cannot imagine that the tech will be used to make people more empathetic, as there is no money or power to be accrued by so doing.

Anonymous said...

"....spiritually flayed alive as you are forced into becoming some form of golem...."
LOVE the language. A real poet, Afshin.
I THINK I agree with what you are saying, too.

Anonymous said...

better ban chess nutters are poisoning the seas killing the pawns its only a matter of time before the rooks and the bishops and the rest is targets according to this report

brad said...

This is ultimately BS. The consciousness is not robotic/electronic.

At best - copying the electronic impulses of a brain (really not possible in it's entirety due to bio-brain being a computer of vastly greater complexity/efficiency) is just making a copy of some electronic impulses. Does that constitute a personality? a limited expression doll/robot? is learning in a real sense possible?

There is extreme doubt here since the direction of the brain/computer in an awakened individual supersedes the direction of the brain/computer in it's direction. Unawakened people simply perform rote reactions to gathered data. An awakened being can observe the data/stimulus/options and choose or create variables not available to the sleeping. A technical replication will not have the conscious awareness to do so and will likely have only limited response options available to it - EVER.

Ian R Thorpe said...

Only the weak minded, the esily led are at risk. I keep saying in these threads the only was machines will ever have intelligence is if we radically redefine what we mean by intelligence.
I think there is rather more to being human than simple being able to parse date extremely quickly and match binary strings.
Having said that, there do seem to be a lot of people out there who believe in artificial Intelligence the way a child believes in fairies. So I guess if progressive education produces humans weak minded enough to surrender and become slaves to the machine, we will not need to redefine intelligence.
Our children and grandchildren will be happy to fulfill the role of epsilon Semi Morons to the new elite.

Anonymous said...

And they still can't find their ass with four hands.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone so worried? If this is a computer simulation we,re already avatars.

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