Monday, February 19, 2024

#50 / Where Are You?

Pictured above is Apple's version of a new "mixed-reality" headset. Want one? We are told that they're in the stores, and that you can order one online. It will only cost you something like $3,500. 

Already, many, many people who are walking around our streets (or driving cars), or who are sitting inside their homes, or who are playing immersive video games that grab the attention of so many young people, are not really where they are. 

To get on one's cellphone, to go "online," or to enter the "Metaverse," for whatever purpose, is to leave behind the physical world into which we were born. That physical world, by the way, is a "shared" world. The world we inhabit inside our phones, or that we find on our laptop or desktop computer screens - or that we can access with one of these "headsets" - is not the "real" world, and it is not a world that we share with others. 

"Shared" is a key word, I think. 

Headsets like this new model from Apple (Meta/Facebook has been selling these for some time) cut us off from our physical location, and from other people, even more directly than cellphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers do. I think that's an issue of concern - an important issue of concern.

Apple bills its new headset as providing users a "mixed reality." I learned from a story in The New York Times, that Apple is also trying to get users, and potential users, and ultimately "buyers," to employ the term, "spatial computing." Apple thinks "nomenclature" is important. No "Metaverse" for Apple. That's a "formerly Facebook" description. 

The "real" world, the physical world in which our bodies are located, is by its very nature a "shared" world. That is the world in which my frequent claim is true: "We are all in this together." That claim is not actually true inside "cyberspace," where we are separated from other people, except as our apparently shared experience may be mediated (or, actually, "simulated") by the giant corporations who "create" cyberspace on their servers, and then charge us, in various ways, an entry fee to get there. 

In a lot of ways, I am less worried about so-called "artificial intelligence" than I am about the effective displacement of so many of us from our "shared" world. We choose to leave that shared world as we gaze into screens, or as we now affix headsets to obscure what our physical eyes might tell us, and we begin to "live" through the more vivid, more "informational" encounters we find in a cyberspace controlled by the corporations. 

Where are you? Where are you, right now?

I would like to persuade you that you ought to be right where you physically are, and that your experiences of the world should be experiences of things and people you both can and do touch with your physical body, not with your ever more easily beguiled and distracted mind!

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