Imagine a world where you can have whatever experience turns you on, anytime, all the time. Is that a recipe for addiction or what?
Monkeys Pay to See Female Monkey Bottoms
The rhesus macaque monkeys also splurged on photos of top-dog counterparts, the high-ranking primates.
Ok, but supposing female monkey bottoms aren't your thing. With advances in the internet, movie, and gaming/virtual reality environments, you could more and more have any experience you want. Travel virtually to any corner of the globe, exchange ideas on anything with anyone, solve clever puzzles. We all have some experiences we enjoy and some we don't. Imagine that you could have whatever sights, whatever sounds, whatever music, whatever interactions with the world or with other people you want anytime all the time.
Here's an interesting article, the Age of Egocasting, that explores what could happen to us as we become cocooned into our private little media shells. It's pretty long, but worth reading:
The Age of Egocasting
Remote controls, TiVo's, and iPod's. Where is it all leading us? Someday, we will all be connected directly to the internet and have programming plugged directly into our brains by hardware connected directly to our neurons, available wirelessly wherever we go. Eventually, we won't even bother going anywhere because it'll be easier to go in vitual reality, so we're going to end up as brains in vats with wires coming out that connect us to the internet. Right? Americans love junk. It’s not the junk that bothers me, it’s the love. -- George Santayana
It made me think: Hasn't the last election itself showed something about the effect the internet has on society? The righty people read the right-wing blogs and become more right-wing. The lefty people read the left-wing blogs and become more left-wing. People get concooned into their belief systems. It's the same thing that happens offline, with talk radio, direct mail, and Fox News, only amplified. Personally, I have some beliefs in common with the left-wing people and some in common with the right-wing people. So which am I, left or right? Is there a fundamental human tendency to stay within the belief cocoon to avoid cognitive dissonance -- and if so, should we not expect the political split in this country to amplify as well as people use the internet more and more people get on?
Here's an article about what happens to hardcore gamers when they play a bit too much. Don't think this could happen to you? Is it because you're not into games -- or because they just haven't come up with the kind of game experience that sucks you in? This question reminds me of the early days of the internet. We'd show people Netscape 2.0 and they'd say, "What good is it?" Well, until the internet has content *you're* interested in -- not much. But the internet has content on pretty much everything these days, and everyone wants to get on. Video games will evolve into virtual reality experiences, and the closer they get to reality, the more diverse, and compelling game experience will become, no?
Real World Doesn't Use a Joystick
Having a difficult time separating her real-life consciousness from that of her game playing is all too common among hard-core gamers.
Of course, this is exactly what you would expect. Video games (and other computer programs) grow the same neural circuits in the brain that you would have if the experiences were real -- whether those neural circuits turn out to be useful in the "real world" or not.
This article talks about virtual home theater -- so you can literally cuddle up in your cocoon and experience anything...
Virtual Home Theater Promises Immersion And Fits on Your Head
The eight-ounce visor, which is expected to go on sale by May at emagin.com for $900, is a personal display system that sits on your head like a pair of glasses.
Of course, I don't know whether this particular company and this particular product are going to take over -- but I do believe this trend will continue and eventually we will have effective personal display devices.
By the way, speaking of home theater -- this time the non-virtual kind -- I just heard that Sony released their black screen that lets you watch your projector during the day. Woohoo -- kiss that plasma screen good-bye! Up til now, you could only use a projector at night. Now you can have the big screen 24 hours a day.
Here's another trend in the direction of more and more compelling artificial experiences: high-definition video. "I have heard comments from people who say the images pop off the screen." Oh yes they do. I've seen "Step Into Liquid" in high-def (using Microsoft's Windows Media HD format). Trust me, it's quite eye-popping.
What high-definition will do to DVDs
First it was the humble home video, then it was the DVD, and now Hollywood is preparing for the next revolution in home entertainment - high-definition.
Of course, I can't talk about the future of entertainment without at least mentioning once the copy-protection conflict. Here's an artile about MythTV and the file sharing networks. Things like BitTorrent and MythTV are really just new twists on an old story. The war on copying will probably never end.
Steal This Show
And entrepreneurial souls are busily concocting even newer applications, including one that searches the Internet for illegal copies of any television shows you may desire and automatically downloads them to your computer. They're turning television - traditionally beamed into homes at the convenience of the broadcast and cable networks - into something more flexible, highly portable and commercial free.
Here's an article about future population projections:
World population 'to rise by 40%'
The world's population is expected to rise from the current 6.5 billion to 9.1 billion by 2050, the UN says.
The UN is failing to take into account that technological singularity -- the point at which cost-effective human-equivalent AI arrives -- will arrive around 2035 and after that the human population will decline rather than increase.
What does this have to do with entertainment? Because I think the decline will come in the form of low-fertility. Everyone will be off in their entertainment cocoons, and no one will be out there having babies -- except the muslims, I suppose. So to the muslims goes the future of the planet -- at least the human part.
So I started this whole thing with the subject of addiction. Basically, I'm asking the question, will humanity become addicted to ever-more compelling entertainment technology? Perhaps not everyone. Here's an article on brain research and addiction that suggests that addiction is not caused just by having a compelling pleasurable experience that you can make with a drug or some other way -- you also have to have "faulty brakes" in the brain to allow the addiction to take control. I'll let the article inself explain what this means:
Addicts have faulty brakes in brain
Scientists believe parts of the brain involved in slamming the brakes on potentially dangerous or inappropriate behaviours may be faulty in people with addictions. The theory challenges a long-held belief of an over-responsive reward system in the brain as the root cause of addictive behaviour.
So you see, it's not really about the pleasure centers in the brain. It's about the brakes.