Hackaday Prize Entry: Aesthetic As Hell

Microsoft Bob was revolutionary. Normally you’d hear a phrase like that coming from an idiot blogger, but in this case a good argument could be made. Bob threw away the ‘files’ and ‘folders’ paradigm for the very beginnings of virtual reality. The word processor was just sitting down at a desk and writing a letter. Your Rolodex was a Rolodex. All abstractions are removed, and you’re closer than ever to living in your computer. If Microsoft Bob was released today, with multiple users interacting with each other in a virtual environment, it would be too far ahead of it’s time. It would be William Gibson’s most visible heir, instead of Melinda Gates’ only failure. Imagine a cyberpunk world that isn’t a dystopia, and your mind will turn to Microsoft Bob.

Metaverse Lab is aesthetic as hell
Metaverse Lab is aesthetic as hell.

Not everyone will laugh at the above paragraph. Indeed, some people are trying to make the idea of a gigantic, virtual, 3D space populated by real people a reality. For the last few years, [alusion] has been working on Metaverse Lab as an experiment in 3D scanning, virtual web browsers, and turning interconnected 3D spaces into habitats for technonauts. The name comes from Snow Crash, and over the past twenty years, a number of projects have popped up  to replicate this convergence of the digital and physical. By integrating this idea with the latest VR headsets, Metaverse Lab is the the closest thing I’ve ever seen to the dream of awesome 80s sci-fi.

I’ve actually had the experience of using and interacting with Metaverse Lab on a few occasions. The only way to describe it is as what someone would expect the Internet would be if their only exposure to technology was viewing the 1992 film Lawnmower Man. It works, though, as a completely virtual environment where potential is apparent, and the human mind is not limited by its physical embodiment.

32 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Aesthetic As Hell

  1. Your mind is always limited by it’s physical embodiment, because it is an emergent behaviour of your physical brain and the state of your brain is intertwined, homeostatically linked, to the rest of your body.

    And for an on topic example of the above, why do you think VR makes so many people want to puke?

      1. There is more to it than that, the brain has an evolved protection mechanism to cause you to empty your stomach if your sensory inputs become decoupled because this was often caused by eating something poisonous. This is also why groups of children can all throw up if one of them does first, because if you are feeding in a group you probably don’t want to keep in your gut whatever made the guy next to you feel ill. This is very low level primate, or older, adaptations and it really does show how grounded in our physical existence we are regardless of the technology we surround ourselves with.

        1. If other people have survived without this “protection mechanism” then who is to say it’s truly for protection? Isn’t it just a random mutation like everything else and then someone tries to determine if it’s beneficial or not?

          1. Yes & no.
            Seeing/smelling vomit and it making you nauseous is tied to empathy. It’s not that it’s explicitly there for protection, it’s that they way we live (mostly communally) makes this neurology/behavior likely to get reinforced through breeding & other social behavior. It has the added benefit of protecting you in scenarios such as the one presented.

        2. The reason people get sick in VR is because what you see and what your inner ear detect don’t jive. It’s why people get seasick in cruise ships. They can be in a visibly stable room, but the ship bobbing in the waves causes your inner ear to sense movement that you can’t infer from your view of the environment. It’s well established. When we experience movement, our brains expect cues from our vision to confirm it is happening because we need it for balance.

    1. “Your mind is always limited by it’s physical embodiment, because it is an emergent behaviour of your physical brain…”

      I could not disagree more, and there are philosophers who are a lot smarter than me who also disagree with your baseless assertion. You materialists have had decades to prove your case, yet you still are stuck on your “emergent behaviour” assertions.

      This forum is not the place for a discussion of the nature of mind.

      1. There are philosophers every bit as smart as the philosophers you like who disagree vehemently with them. And many neuroscientist who also agree it’s emergent. Much human effort has gone into this, much of which was not possible a mere decade ago, that does not preclude them from being wrong, but to sneer ‘assertion’ is a bit disingenuous.

        Nothing 50mg of Meclizine won’t fix. Or sit in a chair that jostles you around to match the VR movement.

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