Monday, March 23, 2009

Primates in Virtual Worlds: Part 1

No matter how fully-immersed humans are within a virtual world, Digital People are primates at heart (and brain.) You can run from meatspace physiology, and even hide from it, but you can't escape its influence on your consciousness.

The sense of being embedded in an external virtual world can only be experienced through the internal processes of our neurobiology. As far as your neurons are concerned, there is no substantive difference between seeing a human on earth and viewing an avatar in Second Life.

I ran across a fascinating lecture this weekend on "
The Neurobiology of Primate Sexuality" by Professor Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University. I usually think about virtual life from a psychological or sociological perspective, so it was refreshing to think about how biological systems impact human life in virtual worlds. I'll hold my additional comments until next time, to give you a chance to view the video. (The second video's aspect ratio is wrong, but audio is good.)

Part 1:

Part 2:


Chant said...

If this is virtual, why is my real heart breaking? I ran across your blog and it hit home for me in a big way. I recently had a SL liason with a man who I instantly connected with, both attraction-wise and mentally. He told me he'd never felt this way, that it was crazy but he was in love with me. Stated it quite clearly. I was just as head-over-heels about him. Thought it was forever. But there were some odd things that didn't add up. And so I did some searches in SL and came up with the profile of another woman who had his pic on her profile, along with declarations of undying love and his proposal to "marry" in sl. I imed her and asked if she was currently dating him. I asked him to meet me, but he wouldn't, accused me of underhanded methods, so I broke up, knowing he had cheated. The other woman did not answer, but suddenly his profile changed and she was in his pics instead of me along with declarations of undying love. I can't tell you how it pierced me through the heart. It has been 2 weeks and I still get teary eyed just thinking about it or telling anyone. I can hardly bear to look at his profile or hers, but something drives me to. I am bitter, and heart broken. Why can I not just view it all as a silly virtual game? I don't know. I know it's a game intellectually, but emotionally, it has had a profound impact. Thanks for your blog. I feel a bit less alone. Btw, I have followed the Buddhist and Advaita train of thought. Still not helping tho :(

Dale Innis said...

Chant, I'd say it's not a game at all, it's a way of communicating with people. This guy *actually* lied to you, and your feelings about it are entirely acceptable. The last thing you need to do is feel guilty or wrong about your own feelings! Accept your feelings, convince yourself over time that he was just a jerk that you're better off without, and move on. :)

Dale Innis said...

I haven't watched these videos yet (woo, they are long!), but I'd just like to say that the speaker appears to have a large amount of facial hair.

Thank you.

Kanomi said...

Botgirl does not skimp on handing out homework assignments this week, with three hours of video viewing required for all regular readers! :)