Monday, June 12, 2023

#163 / Augmented?


Pictured above is the new Apple headset, to which the public was introduced on Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Apple says that its new headset will provide access to an "augmented" reality. "Augmented reality" is to be contrasted with "virtual reality," which is what all those other computer companies are offering. 
Here is what you might look like if you were strapped into one of the new Apple headsets, which will, apparently, be available for purchase (for $3,500) sometime around Christmas and/or the New Year:

Notice those eyes? That headset makes it look like the user is actually connected to the "real world," doesn't it? That smiling woman is looking at reality, right through the headset, or so it would seem, and is not blocked into a computer-generated reality like those users imprisoned within those other, "virtual reality" headsets (see below): 

My advice? Don't be fooled! In fact, when you strap on an Apple headset, as when you strap on another brand, you are removed from direct contact with the "real world" outside the headset. However, the new Apple headset goes out of its way to make sure that you think you are still in contact with the reality outside the headset. Joanna Stern, who writes about "personal technology" for The Wall Street Journal, makes this clear, in an article published on June 7, 2023. Brian X. Chen, who writes about tech for The New York Times, published a review, too.

If you can get access to the Joanna Stern article I have just linked, I recommend that you read what Stern has to say - and that you pay particular attention to the short video that has been published within her column, as it appears online. I think Stern gives a pretty good sense of what's really going on with the new "Apple Vision Pro" headset. One way to summarize Stern's report might be to say, "color Stern skeptical." Chen, too, is skeptical. TechCrunch, which also ran a review of the new headset, puts it this way, in the headline to the TechCrunch review: "Apple Vision Pro makes wearing a headset slightly more human."
"Slightly" more human? Well, that gets to my point about "virtual reality" and/or "augmented reality." 
As I like to point out in these blog postings of mine, we live in "Two Worlds," simultaneously. Ultimately, we live in the World of Nature, a world that we did not create, and the origin of which world is beyond our certain knowledge. Sometimes, I call that world, "The World That God Made." Perhaps I should call it the "Creation," another way to describe that world upon which we all ultimately depend. Attributing to God the existence of the "Creation," or the "World of Nature," is favored by some, but not by all. I don't want to be dogmatic about "God," as though I could properly speak for the Creator (or for the forces that brought the Creation into being). What I do insist upon is the fact that Planet Earth, and the solar system, and the entire universe, and all the life that exists - here on Earth and wherever else it may exist, if life does exist anywhere else - is most emphatically NOT a human creation. And to repeat, our lives, and everything we have done, and do, are ultimately dependent on that world that we did NOT create.  

Most immediately, of course, human beings have created a reality themselves - what I usually call the "Human World," or (since I am preoccupied with "politics" as the way that we can precipitate a constructed reality out of immense possibility), the "Political World." The title of this blog reflects my ideas about this  - ideas that I continue to think are helpful. "We Live [Most Immediately] In A Political World." Anyone wanting to think more about my perspective is directed to "Worldview 101," where I try to explain my ideas about the world and our position within it. 

Our "problem," the way I see it, is that we human beings (having access to such powerful creative abilities, which we have, of course, exercised by creating our "Human World") start believing that WE are ultimately able to do anything, forgetting that all of our created works ultimately depend on that "World of Nature," the "World God Made," the rules of which we must obey, or perish. In fact, we are heading toward the "perish" alternative as we modify the atmosphere to such an extent that we are putting all life on Planet Earth in jeopardy (see my discussion of the views of Guy R. McPherson). 

How, given this "worldview" of mine, does the "augmented" or "virtual" reality found inside a computer-connected headset fit in to our contemporary human situation?

Let me suggest that these newest computer-connected devices can be seen as an attempt to convince ourselves that we can, truly, live inside a world that is completely dependent on human invention and activity, and that is completely independent of what "The World of Nature" requires.

Let me also suggest that this is a profound misunderstanding of "reality." 

Ultimately, we must live in the World of Nature - and most immediately, we are living in a "Human World," a world that we can change. Admittedly, it's not easy to change the world we have created, but we can do that. Believing that we can find any kind of "reality" inside a computer simulation is to make a big mistake. 

"The World of Nature" is giving us some information. Check the weather reports. 

We've been warned!

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