Why virtual reality cannot match the real thing

  • Written by Janna Thompson, Professor of Philosophy, La Trobe University

Suppose you were offered the opportunity to hook yourself up to a machine that would give you all the experiences you desire. Using this technology you could have the sensations of climbing Mt Everest, enjoying great sex with a good looking partner or visiting the Taj Mahal.

The philosopher Robert Nozick used the idea of an “experience machine” to refute the view that good experiences are all we want from life. He thought that most of us would choose not to hook ourselves up to the machine. He assumed that we prefer reality. “But why?” he encouraged us to ask. Nozick’s experience machine existed only in his imagination. There was no such thing as virtual reality in 1974 when he was writing. But we are now able to give ourselves computer generated experiences that are like the real thing.

Researchers at Monash University can give you the sensation of standing in the midst of Angkor Wat as it was in the late 12th century when the Khmer kings ruled. You can look around you and see people fishing, tending gardens and looking after their rulers. Soon there will be technology that enables you to smell the cooking fires of the inhabitants and to feel temple stones by reaching out your hands.

Through virtual reality you can not only visit famous tourist sites like Angkor Wat, Niagara Falls and the Taj Mahal. You can also explore a sunken ship, go to the concerts of your favourite group, suspend weightless in space, put yourself in the shoes of an immigrant crossing the Mexican/US border, become Batman or land on Mars.

The question posed by Nozick has become a real issue. Why should you prefer the trouble and expense of actually visiting Angkor Wat or Niagara Falls when you can get all the experiences of being there by putting on goggles and a body suit?

An extract from the VR experience The Blu.

We want the experience of travel and not merely what we see on arrival. But there is no reason why virtual reality cannot eventually give us these experiences. We want to interact with our environment. But computer programming allows this to happen and it is bound to increase in sophistication. To answer Nozick’s question we need reasons for preferring reality no matter how good the technology gets.

It’s true that you can achieve something only in real life. Your virtual reality climb of Mt Everest may be realistic, but you cannot get the satisfaction (or the bragging rights) that you would get from the actual climb. Still, achievement is not always so important. Perhaps all you want to do is to see Angkor Wat or Niagara Falls. So why is the real experience better?

One answer is that the emotions you feel when you have a virtual experience are not as valuable. When you actually see Niagara Falls, especially if you get up close, you feel awe and even fear in the face of an overpowering force of nature. Being in the presence of something that causes you these feelings is part of the pleasure. Romantics called this the experience of the sublime and thought it was aesthetically valuable.

Visiting a virtual Niagara Falls may also cause you feelings of awe and fear but they are subverted and cheapened by your knowledge that the danger is not real and that your mind is being tricked into thinking that it is.

Reality also holds a potential for making discoveries that virtual reality lacks. Those who visit Angkor Wat hope to see more than they anticipated from tourist information, perhaps even discover something about the place that others have missed. If they are archaeological experts then there is no substitute for an actual visit. Computer simulations, however good, contain only what photography, laser technology and pre-existing expertise put into them.

Why virtual reality cannot match the real thing Rembrandt, Self-portrait, 1660. Wikimedia Commons

There is a further reason for preferring a real experience to virtual reality. Real experiences connect us to the deeds of past people and place us in contexts where history was made. Viewing an actual painting by Rembrandt is a more valuable experience than viewing a copy, however good. The genuine painting was the work of the man himself. We see his brush strokes on the canvas. We are in the presence of genius.

For the same reason we find value in being in the very place where Khmer kings walked. Our experience is enhanced by being physically present in places where ancient people lived or where history was made. Virtual reality lacks this aspect of experience.

Virtual reality can take us to places we can never go. It can teach us by putting us in the place of others. It can be exciting, amusing and a good way of spending leisure time. But it will never be a substitute for encounters with the real thing.

Authors: Janna Thompson, Professor of Philosophy, La Trobe University

Read more http://theconversation.com/why-virtual-reality-cannot-match-the-real-thing-92035

Australia Today

10 Unmissable Attractions for first time visitors to Melbourne

News Company

Melbourne, the most fantastic city in Australia! If this is your first ever travel experience in Melbourne, well it is guaranteed that you are never going to forget it. The metropolitan hub has a lot to offer to its visors, both within the city and the outskirts. There are so many attractions tha...

Read more

Grass trees aren't a grass (and they're not trees)

John Patykowski, Plant ecologist, Deakin University

Xanthorrhoea have no real trunk – just tightly packed leaves. CC BY-SASign up to the Beating Around the Bush newsletter here, and suggest a plant we should cover at batb@theconversation.edu.au.Grass trees (genus Xanthorrhoea) look like they were imagined by Dr Seuss. An unmistakable tuft of wi...

Read more

Peter Grimes is a thrilling and moving staging of the great English opera

Trevor Jones, Lecturer in Musical Theatre, Griffith University

Stuart Skelton in the title role of Peter Grimes.Brisbane FestivalReview: Peter Grimes, Brisbane FestivalPeter Grimes, one of the centrepiece events of this year’s Brisbane Festival, is a remarkable collaboration between the festival, Opera Queensland, Philip Bacon AM, the Queensland Performin...

Read more

Michelle Grattan on strawberries, Sudmalis, schools, and the au pair affair

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Michelle Grattan speaks with University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Deep Saini about the week in politics. They discuss rushed legislation on strawberry contamination, the Liberals continued women problem with Ann Sudmalis’ announcement she won’t recontest her seat, the government’...

Read more

Super. If Labor really wanted to help women in retirement, it would do something else

Brendan Coates, Fellow, Grattan Institute

Labor's plan to pay super to women on paid parental leave would barely boost their retirement incomes.ShutterstockWhen it comes to the gender gap in retirement incomes, symbolism appears to matter more than actually achieving something.Labor’s plan to add super contributions to government-fund...

Read more

Is it time for Australia to be more open about research involving animals?

Tyler Paytas, Research Fellow in Philosophy, Australian Catholic University

Most people never have the chance to see how animals live in laboratories.from www.shutterstock.com The use of animals in scientific research is a complex ethical issue, and these studies typically take place behind closed doors.But since 2012, more than 120 of Britain’s universities, research...

Read more

Holidays & Travel

Things to Do and See in Ballina, Australia

The intricate coastline of New South Wales is renowned for its sumptuous, decadent beaches, hidden resorts and secret camping spots. A long and slow ride down the winding highway that...

Guide to Travel Necessities for 2018

Sure, it sounds like quite an adventure to hit an open road with nothing but a one-way ticket and an open mind, but the harsh reality is – you won’t...

Top Sightseeing Spots in New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most fascinating locations for anyone to visit in the world. After all, it’s a place with a variety of unique landscapes, but it isn’t...

Must-Pack Items for a Travel Blogging Boss

As a travel blogger, you get to see and explore so many wonderful destinations and meet various interesting people, but before you embark on a new adventure you need to...

Luxury Camping Adventures Around the World

Perhaps in direct response to the dominance of technology in the modern world, many travelers are feeling a strong draw towards nature. While some are able to fully embrace their...

Dredging works underway Plantation Island

Tourists and workers travelling to popular tourist destination Plantation Island, Fiji, are set to benefit from safer access when marine channel dredging is completed at the end of June 2018...

Top 5 Tips for Traveling With Dogs

Travelling with your dog can be thrilling, but sometimes it can turn into a real nuisance. Unless you know how to properly restrain the pooch, whether it’ll be able to...

Top Island Destinations for 2018

When we picture island destinations in our minds, we often imagine a tropical beach of white sand, a sun lounger laid out in the shade of a line of palm...

Why Car Rental Excess Insurance is a Smart Choice

Some car rental agencies include basic damage cover in the standard rental fee, with the option to add on liability reduction, or excess insurance. The addition of excess insurance normally...

Fashion & Beauty

Groom To Do List

Sorry Aussie Men, you no longer just pay for the alcohol, flowers and marriage license. Times have certainly changed. Wedding Expert shares what Australian Grooms are now expected to do before...

Simple Secrets To A More Confident Smile

We all know just how important first impressions are. After a handshake, what’s one of the first things people will notice about you? It’s your smile. A friendly smile is...

Improve Your Body Confidence and Feel Great

No matter how good you feel about yourself, sometimes you just can’t help but see a few little flaws that seem gigantic to you and make you feel self-conscious. Whether...

First-Timer Tips For Your First Lip Filler Appointment

Getting injectable lip fillers can be a quick and effective way to plump up your smile with minimal drama. They’re a cost-effective and safe way to boost the natural shape...

The Most Common Skin Conditions and How to Deal with Them

We often underestimate the importance of our skin, but as the largest organ in our body, and our primary layer of defense, it is constantly affected by many environmental factors...

Beach Babe Basics: Everything You Need to Look Stylish at the Beach

Summer is right around the corner, and this year, we all should make the best of it. Right now, it is not just about looking stylish on the streets, it...

HEALTH

Virectin Reviews and Results (LATEST) - Honest Review

Virectin is a potent, natural male enhancement supplement, recommended to all those who are interested in improving their sexual performance. According to the manufacturers, it can provide a positive effect...

How to Choose the Best Lasik Surgeon?? It’s as easy as it can get!

Whether you have had a vision problem since childhood, or you have developed one recently, eye surgeries are the answer to all your problems. It can be anything, ranging from...

Laser Liposuction: The Myths and Facts

Laser liposuction is a revolutionary new way to get rid of unwanted fat without the downtime experienced with traditional liposuction. This procedure offers a number of amazing benefits and is...

How To Show Your Elderly Relatives Love

At every stage of our lives, there’s one thing we truly need above all else: love. As our elderly parents, grandparents, or other relatives we care about grow older, it...

9 Ways to Recognize the Early Signs of Dementia

Dementia is a condition that is, unfortunately, very present among our elderly population. What makes this fact even worse is that, in spite of our best intentions and will to...

Co-Occurring Disorders and Overcoming Addiction

Co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, refer to the combination of substance abuse and the presence of a mental disorder.  Many individuals who enter treatment for substance abuse are...

LIFE STYLE

Should You Repair Or Replace Your Air Conditioning Unit?

Whenever the summer arrives to the hilt and you feel that your air conditioning isn’t up to the mark, there is always one question that pops up into your mind...

6 Rug Trends That Will Boost Style and Comfort in Your Home

If you want to break up that boring and colorless look of your home, one of the easiest and quickest ways is to throw in a rug! Check out these...

Put your problems to rest with Antenna Genie

When the idea of television was first being tested, Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century Fox famously remarked that “no one would want to stare at a plywood box every night”...

Top 5 Design Trends in Commercial Interior

Commercial buildings include offices, restaurants, hotels, etc. and their design can play a crucial role in all the important aspects of a business such as brand reinforcement, customer engagement and...

Add a little colour to your move - and life!

How a little ‘colour’ and planning can take your Move, and make it a more enjoyable one Colour plays a huge role in our lives, it can take us up, or...

6 Simple Rules for Redesigning Your Kitchen

How do you feel about your kitchen? Well, if you feel like your home needs a bit of lifting up, one of the best and most effective places to start...

FOOD & DINING

Morning greens: the breakfast skincare regime

It’s safe to assume that most Aussies fail to eat enough greens. Although this was momentarily resolved with the rise and popularity of the green juice movement, the lack of...

Best Hidden Gem Hong Kong Restaurants

You finally find yourself enjoying the endless beauties of China and this fascinating city. In a place with so much variety, all your senses will be wide awake, and your...

JOHNNY DI FRANCESCO NAMED OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR OF EAT STREET MELBOURNE

Johnny Di Francesco, world champion pizzaiolo and owner of Melbourne’s Gradi Group of restaurants, is excited to announce he has been named official ambassador for Eat Street Melbourne 2018. As Ambassador...

The best Mother's Day gift EVER!

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...

Sing for Your Supper at Chargrill Charlie’s

To celebrate the final curtain call of the Barden Bellas, Chargrill Charlie’s is giving you the chance to Sing for your Supper! Show off your best acapella vocals to win...

MAKE IT WINE TIME, ANY TIME

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...