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Needed for full immersion virtual reality: the mechanisms of human consciousness

virtual reality consciousnesss psychology neuroscience

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#1
BlazingRocket

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As I have considered what we would need to achieve to create Matrix-style VR worlds, I have realized that we need to be able to understand the mechanisms of human consciousness and edit them to a fine level of detail.

 

However, it seems like current science not only does not understand how human consciousness works, we have very little clues on this topic. If anybody on this forum has an extensive neuroscience background, would you be willing to tell me if there are any "clues" that may lead to us understanding the mechanism of human consciousness? Likewise, would you be willing to begin some research on it so that we can live in VR utopias in a few decades? :)

 

On Future timeline, full immersion VR is set for the year 2039. Yet, from the way I see things, we will not have full immersion VR by then because we lack the faintest understanding of where to even begin searching for the mechanisms of human consciousness.


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#2
Erowind

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One of the major issues with understanding human consciousness is that science is currently the wrong tool for the job and the phenomena of consciousness has largely been relegated to philosophy until very recently. Science might one day be able to show us how consciousness functions and arises through observation and replication of the brain's structures. But science will likely not be able to tell us why consciousness is. As in, why does a certain arrangement of matter cause that matter to feel and experience things. What even is experience and feeling? We can say blankly that feeling is a neurological phenomena in the brain that can be modeled. But that model will never show the viewer what it actually is like to feel in the same way that telling a colourblind person about colors cannot make them see them. This is a limit that scientific reasoning has yet to bridge. There are ways to circumnavigate the issue. We can likely come to understand what we need to develop FIVR without actually understanding what it is exactly we are doing. Trial and error coupled with logic goes a long way, but even if one day everyone on this forum find themselves in FIVR, none of us, including the designers will actually understand the minutia of what we're actually doing. 


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#3
wjfox

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On Future timeline, full immersion VR is set for the year 2039. Yet, from the way I see things, we will not have full immersion VR by then because we lack the faintest understanding of where to even begin searching for the mechanisms of human consciousness.

 

Full-immersion VR was among the very first predictions to appear on the site. In fact, looking at the references, I see the entry is almost 10 years old. It was based on a prediction from Kurzweil's book.

 

I must confess, I've since changed my opinion on this technology and the timescale involved. It might be technically possible to make nanobots interact with individual neurons by then, and/or perform some regenerative functions, e.g. for Alzheimer's sufferers.

 

However, inserting 100 billion of them into a healthy human – in a way that alters their perception of reality, and enables real-time control/feedback – is an entirely different matter. Not to mention, the regulatory hurdles would be massive, and who honestly wants all these tiny devices milling around in their brain? Perhaps later this century it could be more mainstream, after extensive testing on mice, primates, etc. but 2039 seems incredibly optimistic. Another example of Kurzweil overestimating.

 

Far more likely I'd say is medical nanobots that can self-propel through the bloodstream, without the need for external magnets, and are capable of transmitting some basic information via ultra-compact sensors and wireless tech. I can see that happening by 2039 and possibly sooner.

 

The brain is a whole different ball game.


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#4
BlazingRocket

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One of the major issues with understanding human consciousness is that science is currently the wrong tool for the job and the phenomena of consciousness has largely been relegated to philosophy until very recently. Science might one day be able to show us how consciousness functions and arises through observation and replication of the brain's structures. But science will likely not be able to tell us why consciousness is. As in, why does a certain arrangement of matter cause that matter to feel and experience things. What even is experience and feeling? We can say blankly that feeling is a neurological phenomena in the brain that can be modeled. But that model will never show the viewer what it actually is like to feel in the same way that telling a colourblind person about colors cannot make them see them. This is a limit that scientific reasoning has yet to bridge. There are ways to circumnavigate the issue. We can likely come to understand what we need to develop FIVR without actually understanding what it is exactly we are doing. Trial and error coupled with logic goes a long way, but even if one day everyone on this forum find themselves in FIVR, none of us, including the designers will actually understand the minutia of what we're actually doing. 

 

I definitely hope that we can make FIVR even if we cannot understand the mechanisms of consciousness, as I would like to allow there to be a "perfectly competitive" market for realities for humans to live in (in short, all humans have the choice of a "blue pill" available to them so that physical reality is not the only reality we are forced to live in (thus making the market not a "monopoly")). On the y-axis of the "market" would not be price but the "easiness of living in that reality". Ideally, the FIVR worlds would be utopia-like worlds where the laws of physics and the general trends of human nature (ex. greed- these FIVR worlds are populated by 100% altruistic, human-like AI that are very unlike selfish, morally ambiguous real humans) do not bound the happiness of the person inside of them. 

 

In short, if FIVR does come out, I believe that there would be a voluntary but gradual "exodus" to the FIVR worlds as physical reality becomes considered the "crapppiest product" on the market of realities.



#5
BlazingRocket

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On Future timeline, full immersion VR is set for the year 2039. Yet, from the way I see things, we will not have full immersion VR by then because we lack the faintest understanding of where to even begin searching for the mechanisms of human consciousness.

 

Full-immersion VR was among the very first predictions to appear on the site. In fact, looking at the references, I see the entry is almost 10 years old. It was based on a prediction from Kurzweil's book.

 

I must confess, I've since changed my opinion on this technology and the timescale involved. It might be technically possible to make nanobots interact with individual neurons by then, and/or perform some regenerative functions, e.g. for Alzheimer's sufferers.

 

However, inserting 100 billion of them into a healthy human – in a way that alters their perception of reality, and enables real-time control/feedback – is an entirely different matter. Not to mention, the regulatory hurdles would be massive, and who honestly wants all these tiny devices milling around in their brain? Perhaps later this century it could be more mainstream, after extensive testing on mice, primates, etc. but 2039 seems incredibly optimistic. Another example of Kurzweil overestimating.

 

 

The brain is a whole different ball game.

 

I definitely do agree with you. Maybe with advances in computational technology, I would like to say that it will be available by the late-21st century or early-22nd century. But I definitely do not see people in 2039 being able to have their five senses receive inputs from coding instead of physical-world stimuli.



#6
Raklian

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Who says consciousness is actually a thing?

 

If you add an additional dimensional space... it all starts to make sense. Some of my physicist buddies speculate that consciousness can be explained by physics, not philosophy.

 

 

They say consciousness is not even a special quality that each of us possess. Rather, it's a whole dimension (apart from the 4 dimensions we're used to) that we are perceiving. We just don't realize it.


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#7
starspawn0

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We don't need to understand consciousness to build FIVR. We already have the rudiments of what will be needed -- cochlear implants, artificial retinas, and prosthetic hands that can transmit the sensation of touch to the brain. None of those required unlocking the deep mysteries of consciousness.

My guess is -- and this is really just a guess -- that we will have a form of FIVR by 2039, completely different from how it has been imagined. Here's how it could work:

First, a lot of the processing to build a world could happen inside the brain itself, guided by a brain stimulator and computer. The stimulation could be through "temporally interfering electric fields" or maybe via ultrasound:

https://www.ncbi.nlm...les/PMC5520675/

When people dream, their brain builds a rudimentary world, that can seem very real. With advances in brain decoding, the semantic contents of dreams can perhaps be decoded; and through what's called "brain encoding", one could figure out the right stimulation patterns to apply, in order to nudge the dream in a particular direction. 2039 is a long time away, and I could see major progress made before then.

So, perhaps you would take a drug that puts you into a lucid dream state, while wearing a brain scanner and neural stimulator -- both non-invasive. Then, a computer would analyze your brain patterns, to figure out very roughly what you are thinking about. If you start to veer off course of what's on the agenda for your trip, it could stimulate and/or inhibit parts of your brain to put it back on target. The computer might not have to know the fine details of what you should be seeing each second -- just the rough outlines -- and then you brain would generate a plausible dream, given the constraints dictated by the machine.

It's possible that we may even be able to determine fine details of what is to be experienced, not just the rough outlines -- shapes, colors, smells, tastes, etc.
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#8
BlazingRocket

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We don't need to understand consciousness to build FIVR. We already have the rudiments of what will be needed -- cochlear implants, artificial retinas, and prosthetic hands that can transmit the sensation of touch to the brain. None of those required unlocking the deep mysteries of consciousness.

My guess is -- and this is really just a guess -- that we will have a form of FIVR by 2039, completely different from how it has been imagined. Here's how it could work:

First, a lot of the processing to build a world could happen inside the brain itself, guided by a brain stimulator and computer. The stimulation could be through "temporally interfering electric fields" or maybe via ultrasound:

https://www.ncbi.nlm...les/PMC5520675/

When people dream, their brain builds a rudimentary world, that can seem very real. With advances in brain decoding, the semantic contents of dreams can perhaps be decoded; and through what's called "brain encoding", one could figure out the right stimulation patterns to apply, in order to nudge the dream in a particular direction. 2039 is a long time away, and I could see major progress made before then.

So, perhaps you would take a drug that puts you into a lucid dream state, while wearing a brain scanner and neural stimulator -- both non-invasive. Then, a computer would analyze your brain patterns, to figure out very roughly what you are thinking about. If you start to veer off course of what's on the agenda for your trip, it could stimulate and/or inhibit parts of your brain to put it back on target. The computer might not have to know the fine details of what you should be seeing each second -- just the rough outlines -- and then you brain would generate a plausible dream, given the constraints dictated by the machine.

It's possible that we may even be able to determine fine details of what is to be experienced, not just the rough outlines -- shapes, colors, smells, tastes, etc.

This is actually a really intriguing idea- I have seen a video explaining lucid dreams a year ago, but I never imagined that it could be able to be used for this purpose. If by any chance you're involved in this field, can you invent the FIVR machine for me by 2039? :) 



#9
Yuli Ban

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While we're on this topic:

Primitive FIVR: Temporary Full Immersion By "Virtual Waking"


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#10
BlazingRocket

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This is very interesting, but I think that the main issue with this is that people would need very large, safe areas (I'd imagine a 10km x 10km) area that perfectly simulates the virtual world for this to be used as an exodus from physical reality. Regardless, it is still phenomenal how the mind fails to register that signals from a screen (not signals directly linked into the nervous system) as not signals from physical reality.







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