Mind, Machines and Consciousness
May 4, 2013
The definition of Virtual Reality as written in the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary, an artificial
environment which is experienced through sensory stimuli (as sights and sounds) provided by a
computer and in which one’s actions partially determine what happens in the environment; also : the
technology used to create or access a virtual reality. In the Consise Encyclopedia it states the use of
computer modeling and simulation is to enable a person to interact with an artificial three-dimensional
visual or other sensory environment. A computer-generated environment simulates reality by means of
interactive devices that send and receive information and are worn as goggles, headsets, gloves, or
body suits. The illusion of being in the created environment is accomplished by motion
sensors that pick up the user’s movements and adjust his or her view accordingly, usually in real time.
The basis of the technology emerged in the 1960s in simulators that taught how to fly planes, drive
tanks, shoot artillery, and generally perform in combat. It came of commercial age in the 1980s and is
now used in games, exhibits, and aerospace simulators. It has potential for use in many fields,
including entertainment, medicine and biotechnology, engineering, design, and marketing.
Virtual reality is experienced through sight and sound, the simplest form is a 3-D image. It is
divided into the simulation of real environment for training and educational purposes and the
development of an imagined environment for a game or interactive story.
Virtual reality actually began in the 1860’s, first there were panoramic murals. The first mural
was called Sala delle Prospettive.In the 1920’s vehicle simulators were made. So over 100 years ago
virtual reality began, of course it has progressed greatly since then. I was watching the news on
Channel 5 and there is a robot called VIGO, it is ran through the internet by a child who is
homebound. The child has dressed this robot in her clothing and it goes to school so it is just like she is
there with her friends in a classroom. I thought this is a great invention. There have been many movies
and many books that have depicted virtual reality.
Virtual reality is being used for therapy. It has been used for different phobias and to treat
PTSD, it is showing to not be very valuable for phobias. Researchers have reported that 62% of
patients with PTSD have showed a significant change. During the treatment, the bad memory is
revisited repeatedly and by using imagination emotions are safely accessed, with the virtual reality
therapy this safely reduces anxiety. The trial study was done with Vietnam vetrans and World Trade
Center survivors, it was shown to be very effective. The hope is that with this virtual reality exposure
therapy those people who would usually not seek treatment will. Currently the way this is done is with
Middle-Eastern themed cities and desert road environments. It has also been found to be effective
because those that are younger military have grown up with digital gaming and so they feel more
comfortable in this type of setting. . There are over 60 places this type of therapy is being used, this
includes VA Hospitals, military bases and university centers. The US Navy has started using a
complex simulation to help desensitize veterans to the trauma and fear they have been involved in.
Physical therapy, occupational therapy, rehabilitation and physical medicine is being used to help
individuals recovering from strokes and spinal cord injuries. It is also being used for children who
have cerebal palsy, brain injuries and other disabilities. This will help with movement, navigation and
social skills. There has been many reviews about this and it is said to be very promising. Physical
therapists are going to be able to use VR to work with patients that are not in the location of the
therapist. Through the use of 3D the therapist can guide the patient in exercise. Through a haptic
device (tactile sensation applied to computer applications: the science of applying tactile sensation to
computer applications in order to enable users to receive feedback in the form of felt sensations) the
doctor can feel the conditions of the patients muscles.
Virtual reality is used to train military recruits for combat. They use data suits, data gloves, head
mounted displays and VR weapons. This cuts down on training times and allows repetition in a
shorter amount of time. This also allows training in all different situations and scenarios. VR is also
used in the Air Force to train pilots. Medical personnel can also be trained through VR.
There are many concerns and challenges for VR the equipment is expensive, you need
specialized technological knowledge to operate the systems, actions in the VR simulation that is illegal
in the real world and many more concerns. There are many pros and cons of VR, some of the pros are
it is more personal than electronic messaging, instant messaging or even letters and phone calls.
With VR people can be drawn together by similar interests instead of location. One of the cons is that
there are more dangers of deception and less creativity.
Ivan Sutherland made a statement in 1965, “Why not create computers that were designed to
accommodate themselves to the way humans worked?” These are all things we are doing now by all
the research and advancement VR has made. In 1999 only 10% of the worlds computing power was
non-human, it is estimated by 2029 that 99% of the worlds computing capacity will by non-human. It
is amazing that we have come this far. Every 18 months computing power has doubled, that is tremondous improvement. The human brain can perform 20 quadrillion calculations per second, while
the most powerful supercomputer in the world today can perform 35.86 trillion calculations per
Virtual reality is still in the beginnings and there are many flaws still. Graphics are still not
lifelike, time lags are still very long, optic and auditory hardware are not completely realistic. The
equipment is still extremely expensive to be used in everyones everyday life. These things will be
overcome in the future I am sure of it.
There are many types of VR systems but the main three are Desktop VR, Video Mapping VR
and Immersive VR. The definitions are as follows, Desktop VR is when a computer user views a
virtual environment through computer screens and a user can interact with it. Video Mapping VR uses
cameras to project images of users through a computer program. Immersive VR uses a HMD to project
videos right in front of your eyes, it plays audio into your ears and can track your whereabouts. It is
also used to track movements of your body. Once a user cannot distinguish between what is real and
what is not then Immersive VR has succeeded. Virtual reality has progressed as much or maybe more
than television or the internet. We will adapt to it just like we have everything else. It will change the
way we perceive things.
It is amazing to me how Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality has developed over the
years. I never dreamed that I would actually be able to type a paper through a computer that isn’t even
connected to the wall. I am sure there will be many Artificial Intelligence Entities in the future. I was
actually pretty amazed at things that are going on now. I had no idea that PTSD has been being treated
through virtual reality or that the military trains with virtual reality. It is just crazy to think that a
computer that started out as just something to type on and then to have to save it to a disc can now just
be saved through the internet and millions of things can be done on them. I am glad I chose to take this
class I have learned things that I never would have without it.