Saturday, 6 November 2010

California Uber Alles

Now, if there is one place on this earth where one can avoid the authentic, California is it. It is the single most unreal place on the planet. I was recently reading about some interesting new developments in gaming technology being developed in Silicon Valley. It appears that the next step in the evolution of 3D entertainment is fully interactive projections. In the ‘90’s the talk was of Virtual Reality, the fully immersive experience whereby the ‘viewer’ enters a computer simulated world. Well, now all the talk is of digital simulacra entering the ‘real’ world of physical reality. Imagine if you will sitting outside a coffee shop with a friend, maybe in the Mission district of San Francisco, when a character from a game you have been playing walks up to you on the street, to all intents and purposes ‘real’. Your reaction to this intrusion depends upon the game. The character could be an agent sent to assassinate you, in which case you dive under the table and shoot him before he shoots you - similarly if it is a war game. On the other hand it could be a mystery game and your task is to discourse with this character to learn a clue which could lead you to the next level of the game. The character could even be an avatar controlled by a rival game player living perhaps in Beijing.

The possibilities for this kind of technology are, like much of California, literally mind-bending. Taken to its logical conclusion we could well find ourselves in a world where all boundaries between physical and digital reality are removed. We won’t know who we are talking to, working for, living with, sleeping with, whether they are ‘real’, digitally programmed, or the avatar of another. If we are to believe Californian software developers our future could be the realisation of a mass schizophrenic delusion. Could be fun.

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