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Go to Table of Contents for 1993 Virtual Reality Conference
REAL road Virtual Systems
"We're in the barnstorming days of VR when it's possible for almost anyone to jump in and make a contribution." Pimentel and Teixeira, in their Intel sponsored book "Virtual Reality",p. 241
EN-ABLE I-N-FINITE ABILITIES
It is a commonplace saying that most of us use only ten percent or so of our mental ability. We know that some of us can perform amazing feats of memory recall, others can write different things simultaneously with both hands, comprehend two different verbal conversations or one while speaking simultaneously, recall past lives, carry out very lengthy arithmetic computations extremely quickly, be aware of the gaze of someone behind them, etc., etc.
Who is not disabled when confronted with the lack of potential abilities such as these and so many others which most of us haven't developed but which we sense are innate and just waiting to be accessed ?
At the StudioLab in Half Moon Bay, California, we are designing a V.R. System called REAL road which attempts to facilitate the awakening of potential abilities such as integration, synthesis, paralell processing and cognition, hemispherical simultaneity and phase entrainment. Our goal is that every user, whether considered disabled or not, will find this system useful to access their own latent higher abilities.
Miracle Of Plane Transition
Beyond the traditional conception of a disabled person a process model of plane transition in prototypical sacred texts: the disabled is first described as being desirous of overcoming the disability but without a comprehensible model either of its causes or of how to do so. The next stage is dramatically marked by an input of such proportions that it confirms inner but as yet hesitating hopes as to the possibility of a cure and vague realisations of the actual causal model involved. This upwelling of certitude, confirmed by a powerful and convincing 'external' synchronicity represents a change to an active belief mode which empowers the miracle of plane transition.
At this new, higher level, a credible and reassuring model of the reasons for the presence of the disability is accepted and this acceptance allows the disabled person to deal successfully with the situation to the extent that it can totally lose its negative charge and practically disappear. Being able to function at this level of belief can even allow the person to voluntarily undergo deprivations apparently more severe than the first because of the assurance obtained from the first catharsis and its successful outcome and because of a new viewpoint which allows the person to feel as actor instead of acted upon by unknown forces. It is this transition to a higher belief plane that our Virtual Worlds system is designed to promote by attempting to facilitate the fullest experiential gamut of human possibilities.
User As Designer
The REAL road system is designed to allow users to create their own Virtual Domains as architects of that particular Virtual life experience.
The construction of Virtual Worlds by the user through interactive environment alteration necessitates an abundance of Tools and Materials.
The rapidity with which a user can build a cognitive model of the Virtual World will depend on facilitating a pre-designed framework which is naturally familiar and tools which are intuitively easy to use. Predominant emphasis is placed on encouraging exploration and tinkering and on the use of paralell channels such as speech and gesture.
Beyond the customary conception of interface as that which facilitates the communication between user and machine, the conceptual tools that can be developed by the user to develop the Virtual Worlds and for communication, are also considered part of the interface: beyond the limitations of a physical interface constrained by the range of body movements or the limits of sensory perception; beyond the limited range of electric signals picked up from muscles or brain; beyond, even, possible bio-energetic intercommunication, the set of articulated mental concepts of the user's creative vocabulary with which the Virtual Worlds are constructed can also directly map the computer's architecture and programming language and, therefore, the most complete interface possible.
Precedence Of What vs. How In Design:
"The hardest thing in design is to get that first good image of the thing, and to get it in a way that is least prejudiced by what you already know. Everything else is relatively easy because once you have the image, the image tells you what to do." by Alan Kay, conceiver of the Dynabook in 1972 when at Xerox PARC, and now Apple Fellow and founder and overseer of the Vivarium project at MIT's Media Lab. (from p. 99 in "The Media Lab" by Stewart Brand of Whole Earth fame) "Where we go with VR is more important than how we build it." Pimentel et al., ibid.,p. 241 "It's hard to get rid of your idea of how to do it versus what it is you wanted to do." Danny Hills, designer and builder of the Connection Machine, a massive paralell computer, from p. 187 of "The Media Lab" by Stewart Brand .
Need For Non-Verbal Discourse
"We need a new literacy for this new age of experiential information." Pimentel et al., ibid.,p. 241 "(But) reading will no longer be the unique primary access road to knowledge and learning and it should therefore no longer be the dominant consideration in the design of School". Postulating the need for a "Knowledge Machine": "Whether or not they put in the requisite number of years in the classroom, many, (or even most) children emerge without the intellectual spark with which all are born." Seymour Papert, pioneer of the use of computers in schools and author of Logo, a programming language meant to be used by children, now Head of the Epistemology and Learning Group at the Media Lab in MIT, in the May number of Wired magazine.
"The line of development most interesting to us is to expand on the idea of making the development and expansion of the world itself part of the user's sphere of control.(..) this requires finding ways to represent the design and creations of regions and objects as part of the underlying fantasy.. Doing this will require changes to our conception of the world. (...) all we really need to do is to find abstractions for (the) underpinnings, that fit into the fantasy itself. Though challenging, this is, in our opinion, eminently feasible." Chip Morningstar & F. Randall Farmer:
"Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat" in "Cyberspace: First Steps", ed. by Michael Benedikt,p. 297.
The Problem With Space, Time, Etc.
We consider Cyberspace a limiting, restrictive label because kybernan refers to steering, (of which more below), and because space is one of the many mental constraints that our system would hope to transcend. The potential usefulness of Virtual systems in making possible integral mind development is hampered by relying solely on Cartesian visualisation modes .
More useful to our intent would be to think in terms of semantic spaces, (places with meaning), and of modes of being or levels of experience.
Space/time/causation/number are formative laws of mind. They represent the parameters and processes which structure the semantic nature of mind, especially of those levels of mind which reflect on material, physical phenomena. In the Hindu yogic conception mind is described as having two aspects: when polarized 'down' towards matter, (also known as "maya" or illusion), it is called "manas" or computational, intellectual and concrete mind; when attracted 'up' towards the true spiritual source it is known as "buddhi" or higher mind, seat of discrimination and of the intuitive, gnostic mode of knowing.
We can only visualise space in a limited number of dimensions and these may not be enough to cover the number of variables required to describe the system to be represented. Even though ways to overcome this have been proposed, such as giving values to 3D units called voxels (for volume pixels), it is obvious that the successive addition of quantitative categories will quickly outstrip the capacity of a system with limited perceivable places to receive them.
Even the concept of using glyphs, (objects whose attributes of shape, position, color, size and orientation are related to independent data variables), does not circunvent the problem since these objects are as limited in number of perceivable attributes as their space.
We believe that the breakthrough that will open the way to a rich representational system will require abandoning the scientific habit of considering data as clouds of units with an understood aspects and recognizing the unlimited potential of symbolic packages which mean what they are to carry intrinsic information.
Although such integrally formulated complexes can only support a limited number of extrinsic attributes, if properly devised to have inherent abstract meaning, there is no limitation to their carrying power.
A system of symbolic entities with integral abstract meanings which can be logically combined to increase their specific and relative connotations can support an unlimited intrinsic semantic load.
Time is usually conceived in linear mode as streching from the past to the future with a central point of instant now. Other ampler time modes have been described where an eternal present is possible, a sense of total actuality which would be perpendicular to the normal time stream.
These possibilities can be more easily conceived by considering the speed of time: we speak of computer systems animating displays in 'real' time meaning without perceptible lag to the user. This implies a correlation between computer speed and user quickness. Both are accelerating, computer speed because of technological improvements and user quickness with practice, but at different rates.
Computers have long ago exceeded the computational speed of 'normal' users but there are some humans who have demonstrated amazingly fast number-crunching and quantitative abilities. (In the movie "Rain Man" an autistic person is shown instantly calculating the number of matches spilled from a whole box on the floor).
It is when considering higher, more qualitative functions, that the ordinary time models show their limitations: a user seized with e-motion will automatically experience a change in level that will alter the perception of time. The release of emotion or catharsis acts like an elevator, raising the level of consciousness. It is interesting to note how difficult it is to conceive of an emotional relation existing between user and computer because we accept the computer as a mental agent but not as being capable of sensation and feeling.
Similarly, when inmersed in an environment peopled with animated acoustigraphic glyphs that radiate meaningful color patterns while sounding comprehensible tone sequences, a much faster rate of processing will be possible because of the density of the aggregate mediums, (bandwidth), and because the intensity of the experience will also tend to compress the time sense. Further, when a user is able to shift the point of view simultaneously to different worlds, different but concurrent time streams may be experienced.
The Solution: Not Physics But Psychics
Discussion of the theoretical design of VW's is still very much influenced, among the practical minded, by emulation of military applications with emphasis on physical realism and fast action. An intermediate concept set is derived from architectural walkthroughs. A wishful fiction set tries to represent William Gibson's superb novelistic descriptions. All three of these models have the essential shortcoming of being emulations of physical reality, more of the same but faster and fuzzier as well as being centrifugal, looking out at a seemingly real world while ignoring inner realities
"One must actively and strategically seek alternative spatial and creative logics, social and cultural configurations." David Tomas in "Old Rituals for New Space", p. 46 of "Cyberspace: the first steps" ed. by Michael Benedikt.
It is becoming apparent everyday now that the efforts by scientific thinkers, especially in cosmological physics, to find unitary explanations to as yet unrelated major phenomena, seem to be tending towards models familiar in esoteric discourse.
"The designs of VR experiences are beginning to cross an invisible boundary between the known and the unknown." Pimentel and Teixeira, ibid.
States Of Virtual Consciousness
A useful model for the structuring of Virtual experience is the traditional esoteric one outlined by Yoga Philosophy of the existence of separate but interpenetrating levels representing a range of manifestation from the physical to the spiritual.
Beyond the physical is described an etheric level which serves as matrix for cell tissue, molding and holding the shape of the physical. It is the domain of vital energy and the level in which the meridians of acupuncture exist. The persistence of feeling after physical loss of a limb is attributed to the remaining etheric web which has been rendered visible in cut living leaves by Kirilian photography. Etheric matter is considered physical, (and within that same level being known as higher physical), and can be affected by heat, cold, powerful acids, etc.
The next level, that of sensation, feeling, and desire is called astral and bodies appear in it as clouds of color in continual motion varying in hue with the emotions and passions emitted.
During sleep the astral body serves as an independent vehicle for conscious action. Astral matter is self-luminous and astral bodies transparent.
Astral sight is four-dimensional so that an object is seen from all sides at once, every particle in the interior of a solid being as plainly open to view as the outside, free from the distortion of prespective. The entire astral body, which is an ovoid usually some eighteen inches larger than its physical counterpart, is endowed with perception, so that one may perceive with any part of the body in any direction. Inhabitants of the astral plane are described as having the power of changing their forms with protean rapidity. Bodies may interpenetrate and pass through each other. Communication in the astral world is by formulated thought, halfway between thought transference and word formulation. Part of the astral scenery consists of materializations of the past, with a living photographic representation of all that has happened, imperfectly reflected from a higher plane.
The next, mental, level is the one that through thought motivates the astral to sensation which emotion produces force in the etheric and finally movement in the physical. These four non-spiritual bodies are considered the vehicles of the real self, the spiritual thinker inhabiting the three higher planes of actual existence, the Causal, Buddhic and Monadic.
The Causal body is a storehouse for the totality of man's experience in various incarnations. Thoughts generated in the causal plane are the true causes of all the effects on the planes below and can have a life of their own as "thought forms". These give rise to vibrations in the matter of the mental body, which throws off a vibrating portion of itself shaped by the nature of the vibrations, much as fine particles laid on a disk are thrown into a form when the disk is made to vibrate to a musical note.
These thought forms become temporary "living" entities of intense activity animated by the corresponding emotion to carry out their generating idea.
An important law relating to properly generated thoughtforms, (those with sufficient willpower behind them, clearly articulated thought and enough emotional charge), is that they will inevitably generate effects at the corresponding levels they descend through until manifesting in the physical. Another enlightening concept is that this model of thought form generation and effect can be extrapolated macro-cosmically to illustrate the formation of vegetable and animal forms by powers of nature and the creation of universes through thoughts of appropiately sized entities.
(Most of this material excerpted from Appendix B of "Secrets of the Soil." by Tompkins and Bird.)
"The architecture of virtual reality imagined as an accretion of dreams..."p. 47 of "Academy Leader" by William Gibson, conceptual father of the fiction of Cyberspace, (his word), from "Cyberspace: the first steps", ed. by Michael Benedikt.
The dreamstates which our culture considers evanescent and unreal are said in Yoga Philosophy to be the next levels of consciousness after the waking state: the astral and the mental would represent the dreaming and deep sleep states before going beyond the mind.
In a recent magazine article entitled "Cyberspace: Portal to transcendence?", David Porush, codirector of an Artificial Intellignce research group at Rensselaer Polytechnic muses: " It's hard not to wonder why the brain has this weird facility to make us feel like we're talking to God. Is something so irrelevant to survival and yet so distinctively human just a neurochemical accident, an evolutionary byproduct of the sheer complexity of the nervous system? Or is it, as Immanuel Kant suggested two centuries ago, that the laws of the "in here" are the same as the laws "out there": Our minds are tuned to universal harmonies. Perhaps the brain is prepped to receive divine telegrams because there is, after all, an Intelligence informing the cosmos toward which universal evolution gropes--a Cosmic Anthropic Principle. Perhaps VR technology will be one of the ways to open the hailing frequency."
Cyberspace has been also functionally related to Rites de Passage, (rituals which mark major life stages), by David Tomas in "Old Rituals for New Space" from "Cyberspace: the first steps", ed. by Michael Benedikt.
Brenda Laurel has written extensively upon the esoteric potential of Virtual Reality cyber-initiations as dramatic re-creations of ancient sacred mysteries.
Total Point Of View
"All great works of art have one thing in common, the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer maintained: they have the power to pull the viewer out of himself and into the work of art. They suspend the division between inner and outer, self and other, and usher you--if only for a moment-- into the realm of the timeless. You momentarily become the art." From Pimentel et al, ibid. p. 232
Our system permits the user to experience progressively broadening points of view from the customary subjective viewpoint through an intermediate objective one to a pervasive prespective of centralized ubiquity: not I, not U, all.
It enables, for example, the switching of viewpoints from the original of the user to that of any object, its center, a process, another user, another world. It then allows multiple user viewpoints and on through levels with increasing radii of action and perception to the everywhere viewpoint: that whole picture from the summit, the christ-vision of all points of view gained by losing individual self consciousness to regain central consciousness of the true Self.
Platonic and other esoteric traditions reverse our perceptual model by considering the eyes, including the 3rd. eye of attention, as projectors of the mind-created physical reality around us., instead of as receptors which cognize a given external reality. The external world is seen as a projection of mind and not as perceivable reality. That is the reason for the emphasis on scientific study of inner phenomena which are sifted for true reality by the simple "neti, neti" of "not this, not this." This mind's eye, which is actually a spiritual higher mind or higher-than-mind being, can be followed to its source, the real I.
Absolute Truths Are Relatively Simple
The Higher Self within is considered in this model to be the sole conscious being in which the totality of sentient entities exist.
"(...) peace (...) comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its Powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwell Wakan-Tanka, (Great Spirit), and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us." from p. 114 of The Sacred Pipe, Black Elk's account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux, ed. by Joseph Epes Brown.
Going beyond existing concepts of Cyberspace as a consensual hallucination we consider Virtual Worlds as user realities which can be shared by virtue of their common constructive processes.
As mentioned above, the term cyber- from kybernan, to steer, control, doesn't cover the possibilities we would like Virtual Worlds to have. Beyond the user or programmer or designer as agents in control we prefer to emphasize finding, discovering, meeting, going beyond limitations to a wider perception. Having met other users and interacted with objective entities from which one can learn, the ultimate goal is finding the absolute subjectivity of the real self, the self-discovery and ultimate communication with a higher aspect of ourselves. From mind to mind communication to experience of Universal Mind.
If there is an absolute kybernete steering us to that transcendent meeting it is that same Self, the absolute sysop and ultimate guide, known as guru or he who casts a light on each step of the Path.
The communication model has also been usefully applied to the perception of thoughts where concepts are seen as being received and tuned in from a universal mind field and re-broadcast as offspring tought-forms.
These creations also include the embodiment and projection of Virtual personae which serve as vehicles for communication and effect but which ultimately represent approaches towards that absolute total Being. The successive series of exploratory experiences embodied in these temporary incarnations of thought forms and personae are seen as disposable vehicles with which to transit the many steps and chapters in the "Who am I ?"quest.
An exciting stage in this pilgrimage is that of communication with other user's and their projections which leads to the establishment of Community. From the original CommuniTree Group Bulletin Board text-only systems, birthplace of the Shareware attitude of "nourish the group, it will come around to you", to the multi-user on-line Virtual Worlds available today, the global village facilitated by computers represents an instant democratic access to common being which is bound to accelerate planetary development. Community can also occur in the functional sharing of the Virtual experience as happens, for example, in the closeness of Virtual mediation between therapist and patient.
Will The Real Intrinsic Meaning Please Show Up
"(...) the availability of vital significance." John Drury, Dean of King's College, Cambridge, in an article on Transubstantiation as the ultimate act of artistic creation in The Independent newspaper, June '88: "the power of a thing or an act is in the understanding of its meaning" from p.123 of The Sacred Pipe, Black Elk's account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux, ed. by Joseph Epes Brown.
Systems Of Representation
Unlike Michael Heim's differentiation between Platonic constructs and the digital information of Cyberspace, we believe that pure concepts are sensational, that Virtual Worlds make possible not just an apparent but an actual materialization of absolute formative principles so that a knowledge of idealforms ensues in the user through the awakening of his inner connection to causal levels. (From p. 64, "The Erotic Ontology of Cyberspace" by Michael Heim in "Cyberspace: First Steps" Ed. Michael Benedikt)
"(..) a few artists create a language of symbols for things which threre are yet to be words."Leonard Shain, in Art & Physics quoted by Pimentel et al, ibid
Traditionally, it was seers, (rishis), who were able to experience in deep meditation aggregates of sound/color/form called mantras which, although not describable verbally, could be transmitted directly through initiatory processes. This story, although not directly applicable or verifiable, hints at the possible existence of supernal, causal, archetypal, Platonic ideal levels which may be worth aiming for because, even if not directly apprehensible, a hypothetical model world directed at emulating them may prove very rewarding, especially if they turn out to actually exist.
Certain esoteric schools postulate a Universal Language of Light in the form of pictographic flame letters. Yogic tradition refers to an archetypal meta-language called Senzar used by teachers when in resonant meditational communication with students.
"at the computer interface the spirit migrates from the body to a world of total representation". From p. 75, "The Erotic Ontology of Cyberspace" by Michael Heim in "Cyberspace: First Steps" Ed. Michael Benedikt
"VR allows us to perceive abstract ideas and processes for which there is no physical model of representation. It acts as a translator, converting concepts into experiences our senses and mind can appreciate and analyze." (Pimentel et. al. VR p. 162)
Jerry Slambrook of Sandia Labs, designer of a VR application which situates the operator at Earth's center from which to observe and make intuitive sense of data on underground nuclear explosions:
"(we) let the mind's eye discern the data. (We) allow a macro look at the data ." (Pimentel, ibid. p. 171)
In section 54 of the Platonic Dialogue "Timaeus" the five regular solids are successively described in the order of complexity of their triangular composition. These perfect forms which are the only ones in Eucledian (flat, as opposed to spherical or other) geometry to have all edges equal are: the tetrahedron, (a triangular pyramid), the octahedron, (two square pyramids base to base), the hexahedron, (cube), the icosahedron, (a rough sphere of twenty triangular faces) and the dodecahedron, (a less rough sphere of twelve pentagonal faces).
A set of exact nesting patterns within and without these forms give rise to a series of absolute relationships that can be used as logical transformational guidelines and can also be interpreted analogically in other reference sets. Plato is reported by Socrates to ascribe each one to one of the elements, the tetrahedron, for example, being related to fire, etc.
The next series of almost-perfect solids are intermediate steps between different pairs of the above resulting form their gradual truncation. Although their faces are regular polygons, these thirteen "Archimedean" semiregular solids have two different kinds of polygons for faces, instead of one. The familiar soccer ball made up of 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons known as a truncated icosahedron is one of these.
Another family are the thirteen Archimedean "duals" which result from replacing the faces of the previous thirteen by corners and their corners by faces.
All these thirty one perfect bodies are so symmetrical that they fit neatly within or without a sphere.
As detailed further, they can be given color properties by applying a pre-determined code relating polygons to hues, for example, triangles=red, squares=yellow, pentagons=blue, etc. If tone has been mapped also to color then each body can be assigned a composite tone or chord.
In this manner, an initial set of comprehensible absolute figures, having their own intrinsic relational logic, can be made available within the user's set of objects or backgrounds, to be called up at the flick of a finger. Such an analogical and metaphorical system bridges formal/verbal and figurative viewpoints. For example: " I am (point) between (line) among (plane) within (volume)."
White at the center expanding in two opposite polarity directions separated by a reflection plane of silver: 'Downwards' towards decreasing energy, slower vibration but more intense, 'loving', warm colors: (considering only pure spectral colors, that is not tints, shades, etc.): golden yellow, orange, orange red, deep red, magenta, violet. A total of 6 steps or levels.
'Upwards' towards increasing energy, higher vibration, more intense life but 'colder' colors: lemon yellow/chartreuse, green, aquamarine, blue, ultramarine, indigo. A total of 6 levels.
Two zones of non-colors, such as warm and cold greys, connect the white center with the upper and lower limits of this envelope, which may curve exteriorly, and are represented by "negative" or warm black, below, and "positive" or cold black above.
Further color combinations such as tints (color plus white), shades, (color plus black) and mixed hues suchas red+green=brown, yellow+brown=ochre, etc. will naturally occupy a corresponding logical position in the distribution of color space.
Certain schools of contemporary psychology have devised amazingly accurate diagnostic tests based on selection and ranking of a limited number of colors which are collectively assigned to different personality traits.
Faber Birren, dean of color theory, speculated in "Color Psychology and Color Therapy" that different colors correspond to different geometric shapes, as quoted by Pimentel & Teixeira, ibid.: "orange supposedly evokes the image of a rectangle; yellow, a pyramid or inverted triangle; blue, a circle; and red, sharp angles, squares or cubes." And, they add: "Designing a Virtual World to test this idea wouldn't be too hard to do and could produce some interesting results."
There are other traditional correlations of color and shape such as the Hindu representation of the five elements, (not physical substances but archetypal essences describing all matter): earth:yellow/square; water:blue/circle; fire:red/triangle ; air:silver/crescent; ether:black/egg. The Chinese associate their somewhat different concept of five elements with the following colors: earth:yellow; metal:white; water:black; wood:blue-green; fire:red.
The Primordial Elements As Letters
The root meaning of stoicheion, element, in Greek, was "in a row one behind another." from stoia: colonnade. Plato is reported by Socrates in the Timaeus to consider the elements to be letters:
 "(...) we must consider the nature of fire, and water, and air, and earth, (...) and we maintain them to be the first principles and letters or elements of the whole, when they cannot be reasonably compared by a man of any sense even to syllables or first compounds."
Seeing The Primordial
One very interesting model for a primordial element has been reported by two independent and concurring researchers. This ultimate physical atom and energy particle, the basic constituent of all physical matter, is described as "a little miniature sun" having two polar and opposite forms consisting of a spinning heart shaped complex of 16,800 coils resembling a human rib cage containing a spinal column. Lines of force enter and leave through a depression at the top and is changed in character by its passage. See "Principles of Light and Color" by Edwin D. Babbit, (1878), and "Occult Chemistry" by Besant and Leadbeater.(1932)
This complex model was arrived at independently by both sets of researchers through expertise in yogic concentration allowing micro perception and they report and describe it in very similar terms.
According to a reputable authority on particle physics this model bears a striking resemblance to current ideas (some only a few years old) about "spinning, colored magnetic monopoles that are confined by strings or bundles of color flux lines, squeezed into a narrow tube by the ambient, superconducting vacuum." From "Extra-sensory perception of Quarks" by Dr. Stephen M. Phillips as reported in "Secrets of the Soil" by Tompkins and Byrd.
When considering the different modes of auditory conception, that is, how we naturally apprehend sound and how it tends to manifest in our normal awareness, the following basic aspects seem to outline the key parameters which an audio interface must necessarily address.
The three main sound modes, noise, music, and speech represent a range of increasing emotional load and semantic (meaning) concreteness. Comprehensible noise is quickly apprehended in its simple entirety and can be generally considered to model the physical or 'real' world. Music excites our emotional feelings but can range 'down' to simpler rhythmic noise or 'up' to rare abstract comprehensions beyond verbal conception. Speech requires logical mental modes in its apprehension although its content can affect all levels of a human being because our 'basic inner guidance' mode is hearing "that still small voice within". Nevertheless, speech, necessarily mediated by language, including body language, inevitably has a ceiling beyond which the mind can still conceive ideas difficult or impossible to talk or write about, even in poetry.
These general facts suggest an audio interface input sub-system which facilitates perception of these aspects of sound by maximizing the acceptance thresholds of each level. Thus, for inmediate cues to basic aspects of action and environment, simple discrete 'gut level' noises should be able to intrude on all other audio inputs, with or without a specific directional provenance. The next level of complexity would involve simple rhythmic patterns and pitch/volume packets easily and instinctively comprehended. For example, the increasing pitch of acceleration or volume of an approaching noise, the staccatto impact of an insistent call, etc. Music requires a minimum of quality rendition, is analog by nature and is further considered below. Speech involves many stylistic and emotional facets that we automatically interpret, especially when it is sung, but simple voice synthesis is today available and suitable for neutral data acquisition. The higher reaches of our conception, beyond verbal language description,can be nevertheless approached by different auditory phenomena such as the 'angels singing' of high frequencies, "music of the spheres", etc.
The next major consideration with respect to audio input is that different regions of the brain cortex tend to specialize in processing different types of sounds and those different regions are often connected to different ears. A user should therefore be able to switch a verbal or rhythmic input to the right ear and a musical input to the left ear in order to put to best use the left brain hemisphere specialising in speech and rhythm comprehension and the right specialising in melody. Users can thus discover their existing strengths and develop new ones such as simultaneous comprehension of two verbal sources, etc. (It has been found that some cultures in which speech has melodic elements, such as the japanese, tend to develop symmetrically opposite specialisations ).
In terms of possible visible speech outputs it should be noted that, according to Media Lab research, in English, just 16 lip positions, when flashed 30 times per second, can simulate lip synchronized speech so that a set of lips, (anyone's), can be made to talk realistically.
The range of vowel sounds can be mapped as a melodic rising cadence, (u,o,a,e,i), which could serve as a starting point for integrating simple voice inputs into the form/color/tone/meaning symbicon complex.
Tod Machover, co-head of Music Research at the Media Lab, who trained with Pierre Boulez in France's IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique-Musique)has suggested devising: "musical agents, primitives, each of them a musical tendency, a melodic shape or harmonic progression or tone color. The trick would be to set up an environmment with some kind of constraint language where you could put those things in motion. You might just push a button and watch it behave, or it might be a performance system_ you could interact with this structure at any level of detail you wanted. Somewhere between improvisation and composition." From p. 108 of "The Media Lab", ibid.
"The technology of computers will allow artists to express visual experience in terms of music, and to give any medium the function and properties of another: sound can have saturation and color can have duration and rhythm. VR artists will involve us in journeys by linking images, places, and events; layering words; painting with music; and singing with pictures in a rhythmic stream of consciousness to carry us to the epiphany of their insights."(From Pimentel, ibid, p.237)
Prof. Ooteru of Waseda University in Japan is studying how a glove could be used by musicians to create music without physical instruments and is experimenting with piano keyboard and violin simulations. (From Pimentel: "VR" p. 220)
"Perhaps a new word, like visualmusic, is a more appropriate, creative name for virtual art experiences" Pimentel, ibid, p. 240.
Aristotle wrote: "Colors may naturally relate like musical concords for the most pleasant arrangements; like these concords, mutually proportionate." (Ross 1913), from Faber Birren in Dictionary of Color.
Newton and Scriabin proposed direct correlations between tones and colors. Newton correlated the note C with the color red, D with orange, E with yellow, F with green, G with blue, A with indigo and B with violet. Scriabin proposed a more poetic correspondence: C with red, G with rosy orange, D with yellow, A with green, E with pearly blue, and B with the shimmer of moonshine. Once tones have been assigned to colors, and colors in turn are seen to be related to specific forms, (according to several models and depending on the degree of complexity), it becomes possible to conceptualize what researchers of absolute reality report to be the case: forms radiate specific colors and vibrate to a fundamental sound, (which is their foundation).
Symbicon is the proposed meta-language integrating form, color, sound and their meaning and is based on the use of combinations of form/color/sound primitives or symbolic icons, that is, symbicons.
Different sets of primary symbicons covering the range of 2D and 3D basic shapes,each radiating the color and sounding the musical tone appropriate to their form will ease the way towards an understanding of archetypical absolutes.
The three development phases of this meta-language are a preliminary verbal alphabetical transition, two dimensional or Flat and three dimensional or Flat.
SYM1: a 'universal' color/form alphabet in which each character of the english alphabet, (as well as the first ten integers from 0 to 9) is reduced to its primary geometric shape and assigned the colors and tones appropriate to that shape.
A new, easily recognizable type style is appearing which represents more than just another font. Offering a preview of the new century's look, it is a graphic decorative and type style composed with simple geometric planes of pure colors. Designed according to the absolute principles of form-color relationships and already rising into design cosciousness, it will ensoul the written/drawn aspect of the universal 'newspeak' of the coming age.
Given the obvious degeneration of English since Shakespeare's time, of Spanish since Lope de Vega, the simplification of Chineses characters, and considering that none of these evolutions of language are likely to revert, a likely scenario will be the predominance of a universal alphabetic pidgin language, based most probably on 'business english', (as Anthony Burgess foresaw in "A Clockwork Orange"). A form/color alphabet will be an attractive vehicle for its propagation and can introduce and field-test form/color conventions useful in the development of appropriate standard protocols. It could be easily learned, especially by children, and prove acceptable to non-english writers as a new form of international english and to ideographic writers as approximating the complex systems they have painfully mastered.
Need For A Base 3 Discourse
A necessary starting point for a new level of discourse allowing higher conceptual dynamics should be a base 3 discourse as in the ol' saying: "Not one side, nor the other but exactly the opposite". That is, a world viewpoint where more than two opposites rule.
Good/bad, etc. people a spurious landscape of nothing but dychotomies whereas, in fact, three are always operating in reality but we ignore the neutral. Recognizing the operational fact of the tri-nature of day-to-day reality, (the "law of three" of Gurdjieff, the ayurvedic "Tridosha" of rajas/action, tamas/inertia and sattwa/balance), is not only a pre-requisite for development but also the cornerstone of a new language that can unblock our vision towards a unified practical discourse.
"As far as I'm concerned the heuristic for making discoveries is: start with a distinction that people make and argue that there are three ways rather than two. Probably all good ideas start by making a distinction, and then they usually die by stopping there and dividing everything up into those two. Information theory is interested in signal and noise. Maybe we should make a tri-stinction -- signal, noise and meaning." Marvin Minsky's (co-founder of artificial intelligence) very own words from p. 106 of "The Media Lab", ibid.
Tri-furcation is proposed later on as the base level trunk in a decision tree.
Integration With The Syntheses Of Ideographic Systems Attempts to represent archetypal thoughtforms in "cave" pictographs, Chinese ideograms, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Mayan glyphs, etc., often go beyond our present cognitive abilities which are centered on left brain verbal modes and escape the range of our cultural preferences which generally tend to the material and mundane.
Nevertheless, out of an originally simple set of primary symbolic icons which are coaleseced and derived from basic concepts of geometry, color and sound, a universally comprehensible meta-language can be developed by REAL road system users which, because of their comprehensive and absolute character, begin to reflect timeless concerns with higher questions and therefore begin to correlate with ancient pictographic symbolic systems while remaining part of a contemporary cultural context.
Examples of worthwhile linguistic precedents, abstract meaning schools and cosmological models which can be integrated into a universal meta-language are: hand sign language, mudras or energetic/sacred hand gestures, buddhist science and art of mandalas (cosmograms), Navaho sand paintings, runes, Hebrew and Sanskrit alphabets, the Kabbala, Talismanic science, Feng-Shui or Chinese Geomancy, Sufi geometry, etc.
Advantages Of Proposed Meta-Language
The REAL road system user is thus provided with a limited but conceptually powerful and logically combinative set of tools which comprises a vocabulary, a palette and a set of musical elements simultaneously.
This new cogitational medium representing our mind's vision developed by REAL road system users has the potential of becoming an object-based international communication system.
By returning from alphabetic language to the basic elements of sound and light and by providing the tools to develop these primary elements into harmonic complexes which follow the natural inherent combinative logic and aesthetic tendencies of melody, harmony, geometry and color, the SYMBICON language will allow even small children to quickly become conversant with a universal communicational and cogitational medium. It will also help develop or restore a natural equilibrium between analytical and creative faculties by providing a means of expression in which the verbal and the formal are balanced.
The CRIS-Man Interface Protoype Specifications
CRIS-man, so named because we see the exhilarating human adventure with computers in terms of a mutual discovery and co-evolution between carbon- (human) and silica- (computer crystals) based entities which can lead to humans developing abilities characteristic of crystalline (perfectly ordered) systems and of christic (anointed) beings.
The CRIS-man interface can be described in general terms by considering the outputs from the computer to the user: audio and video, and the inputs from the user to the computer originating from the eyes, hands, feet and voice.
It should be noted that in the use of personal computers and especially of Virtual systems, there has been a preponderance of the visual which seems to largely exclude those visually impaired. Although pre-eminently visual, the symbicon approach consists of the aggregation of meaning modes and therefore represents an increasingly wider bandwidth straddling different senses and providing paralell channels. Its sound component, for example, could provide a comprehensible and directly mappable to sight vehicle of expression for the sightless but aurally talented.
Similarly, the development of symbicon promises a meaningful machine transduced symbol language for the hearing impaired and a universal acoustic language for the speech impaired.
From physiological morphology different visual geometries can be studied: the lizard embryo recapitulates a stage of development where there was one eye at the top of the head; two eye morphologies vary in the plane of situation and the relative eye location: paralell eyes to the "front" as in cat and primate are in fact facing one side of the body, oppositely placed eyes face up and down as in the sole or laterally to both sides of the body as in birds and whales. The optics of the eye vary also in coverage of the total field of vision from human double convex lenses to the spherical fish lens to an insect's multiple image honeycomb display.
Auto-stereoscopic displays which don't require special viewing devices such as holographs and multiplanar, (where 2D sections of a volume are projected so that the eye fuses them into transparent 3D images), are not widely accessible. However, displays based on left- and right- eye 2D images directed to the appropriate eye depend on binocular disparity to produce the sensation of depth and a large number of people have some degree of stereo blindness being unable to completely fuse the two images.
Orientation in 3D space can be facilitated by a "Rear view" HMD: Since the HMD itself prevents seeing the actual space around the user, it is safer and easier to be sitting and therefore necessarily facing in one direction, (a swivelling chair is considered too slow, costly and dangerous). This unfortunately prevents that exciting feature of inmersive environments in which the user, by turning the head and body, can pan sideways across and through to the start point while the surrounding space remains stationary. Although this feature is inmediately impressive, another way of providing the user with a 360 degree field of view is employed which is potentially more effective because it allows switching between looking forward and looking rearward almost instantly. This design is based on the rear-view mirror principle and consists essentially of a display in which both front and rear views, (180 degrees each), appear simultaneously. This may seem at first potentially confusing and difficult to cognize. Nevertheless any car driver, and especially any truck driver, can reflect on how natural it is to perceive and accurately estimate, for example, speed of approach in a rear view mirror.
More important, however, is the fact that our eyes are wired to our brains in such a way that each half of the visual field is perceived by one brain hemisphere. Thus, all the nerve fibers which pick up the left visual field in each eye, go to the right hemisphere and viceversa. Since each hemisphere often acts as an individual processor, it is very possible that with very little training, a user exposed to a visual display in which one area shows the view to the front and the other the view to the rear may easily adjust and be able to function effectively in both directions because each one of his two main processors will be individually navigating its own mind field. This approach will require provision of adequate depth perception and inmersion for each view.
Since present accessible technology supports immersion best through the use of a HMD, (Head Mounted Display), which cuts out exterior vision, the CRIS-man interface is designed around a physical support platform on which the whole body is seated in a reclining natural posture, (head, neck and trunk aligned), and with the knees slightly raised to allow the feet to operate the incorporated pedals. This configuration will be easily adaptable for use on wheelchairs and in beds.
Once seated and reclining, the user will lower an HMD helmet onto the head and rest the bare feet on the pedals and the arms on the armrests with the palms facing upwards.
The helmet contains the adjustable viewing displays, the hearing ports, a speak/sing microphone and an eye-tracking pickup. The hearing ports deliver sound adjusted for positional cues to the ears through spirally shaped channels in order to keep magnetic headphone speakers away from the head and to enhance the quality of the sound column. The eye-tracking pickup consists of a horizontal band with three electrodes which translates changes in the electrical potential of the moving eyeball, (EEG), into cursor movement and adjusts onto the forehead. Additional elements are: a nose microphone designed to pick up breath patterns, additional electrodes on the cheeks to pick up EMG, (muscle electrical signals), for jaw-clenching signals for those who are voice-impaired, and an electrode field on the cranium for EKG, (brain electrical signals).
The foot pedals consist of an articulated sole for each foot with four sections which can be operated with the heel, ball, large toe and other toes, respectively.
The right foot pedal is the e-motion pedal: system on/off, motion and sound control: forward/reverse, acceleration/pitch, braking, The left foot pedal acts as "gear" selector to switch between: octaves, left/right ear audio inputs, point of view, forward/rear vision, etc.
The arms, resting palm upwards to prevent stress associated with holding them up and crossing the forearm bones, are strapped into a wrist band, which picks up physiological constants such as arterial pulses. Either through EMG, (muscle signal), pickups at the forearm or through a data glove, various input signals are generated through a wide variety of finger positions, movements and tensions as the fingers are fluttered open and closed and the hands clench and unclench in the most comfortable arm posture and in the most natural way. Both discrete signals from finger position and variable frequency ranges from differences in muscle tension can be picked up in this way. An inverted 3D force trackball may also be operated concurently as well as sets of position tracking rings on the fingers.
This input sub-system will allow users to enter very quickly the alphabet, numbers, operations, musical tones, etc. by just moving the fingers naturally and changing registers with simple feet movements. When SYMBICON 2 is being used, each finger movement will 'draw' a colored shape while sounding its fundamental tone. SYMBICON 3 will similarly produce three dimensional colored forms and their tones or chords. These symbicons can be quickly and intuitively called up with single finger movements thus creating meaningful elements in the Virtual environment which are susceptible of being logically combined and derived.
Other possible inputs are: palm electrodes for MORA type electronic acupuncture computer for diagnosis and treatment; electrodes to pick up humidity differentials for bio-feedback stress control detection and training.
One potentially useful means of orientation in 3D space, always difficult because viewpoint is central, is based on the color of the "background".
The color distribution model mentioned above becomes a universally intelligible, space continuum in which direction and location, as in traditional schools of knowledge, are associated with specific colors. For users who can't perceive some colors these can be to a certain extent symbolized by patterns.
The Navahos consider the eastern boundary to be white, the western yellow, northern black and the southern blue. Aztecs decorated the rooms in a temple-palace which faced east in gold, those facing west in turquoise blue and jade green, those facing south in white and those facing north in red. The Tibetan conception of world centers it on a huge mountain shaped like a truncated pyramid the sides of which face the four compass points and have specific colors which shone like jewels: to the north was yellow; to the south, blue; to the east, white; and to the west, red.
To make this process less abstract, color orientation can be related to human awareness parameters such as the three planes: (legs) forward/rear, (arms) left/right, (head) up/down; these can also be related to fingers of the hand and their corresponding energy flows in and out of the body. Since colors are related to certain basic tone frequencies, sound can be used as a supplementary indication of direction and/or position.
Virtual environments can be animistically equipped with Guides, navigation agents representing the powers of each direction.
Form /Color Orientation
Correlations also can be made between directions in 3D space and basic forms which allows orientation not only by color but by shape family, thus establishing domains in which certain form types are logically more prevalent.
For example, if the forward/rear (legs) plane is associated with triangles/red, (consider the triangular outline of walking legs and of noses,related to going and detecting); the left/right (arms) plane is associated with squares/yellow, ( it traditionally contains the four directions, includes the sign of the cross ); and the up/down (head) plane is associated with circles/blue, then the intersection of each pair of planes in each of the six 3D directions can represent the combination of two flat shapes producing two possible opposite volumes: forward/rear (red triangle) with left/right (yellow square) = orange regular pyramid and triangular prism; forward/rear (yellow square) with up/down (blue circle) = green cylinder and square-based circular sided prism; and left/right (red triangle) with up/down (blue circle) = violet cone and triangular based circular sided prism.
In this way, forward could be logically indicated by a yellow orange regular pyramid and rear by a red orange triangular prism, etc. These colored shapes can appear on the display and its cognitive maps as well as being molded at their appropiate positions into the trackball.
Direction of travel in Virtual space as well as attentional intent are mediated through two available cursors, one which defines the point of intended movement and is directed by a force trackball, and the other which allows seeing in another direction and is eye-tracked.
Additional positional infrormation can be picked up from position sensor rings around the finger phalanxes..
Because of the complexity of navigating with six degrees of freedom, (three axes and three rotations about them), it is good practice to gradually enable them according to user experience.
Interestingly enough the keys to Virtual experience: trackball, wands, position rings, HMD, and chair, begin to replicate the traditional power tools of the sacred monarchs: orb, scepter, ring, crown and throne. Are those silicon chips real gems?
Further Navigation Aids
Cognitive maps appearing on the display can image aspects that the user needs to be aware of for navigation and control: an image of the body parts which will trigger responses when moved such as: the fingers and their respective (reconfigurable) functions; an indication of which audio output is connected to what ear; a proportional representation of the available modes, channels and functions according to their relative extent similar to the well known disproportionate body representing the relative mapping of skin to brain.
An Artificial Intelligence symbolic image analyzer can be used to suplement the user's ability to decipher his display by translating its complex visual parameters down to a more accessible format.
Other Useful Integratable Disciplines
Astrology, Palmistry, Reflexology, Iridology, etc. are ancient medical epistemologies based on the analogical relationship of each part of the part to each part of the whole.
After inputing simple user astrological coordinates at the beginning of a Virtual session, a resident expert Astrological program, or one able to determine bio-rhythms, could generate useful individualized outputs.
The etheric body network described by acupuncturists as thousands of meridians or vessels, (called nadis or rivers in the Indian system), carrying bio-energy in the form of prana, (pra=first, na=unit), has been also identified on the surface of the Earth as a regular grid of ley lines transmitting etheric energy from the planet's center.
The Chinese refer to ch'i energy and feng-shuei, (Chinese geomancy, lit. wind and water), describes the ebb and flow of ch'i as changing in direction and quality every two hours as the sun moves from E. to W. daily;(also seasonal and 60 year cycle patterns which are not exactly repeated for the next 60 years).
The Yogic system of breath training, pranayama, similarly observes an alternation in the natural flow of breath from one nostril to the other every two hours, each nostril representing one of the main positive/negative spinal meridians (ida & pingala), and a succesful meditation or calm, open state of mind only being possible when the third, balancing and central meridian is activated.
Picking up the sound of the breath pattern by means of nostril microphones would also provide a direct indication of stress levels: the breath is said to be the link between the body and the mind and one indeed follows the other. A perfectly balanced exhalation and inhalation can only be achieved by a very steady mind. Total absence of breath would indicate either the user having permanently left his body or having achieved deep meditation.
Multi processor computers are being developed like the Connection Machine designed and built by Danny Hills, who trained under Marvin Minsky at MIT, in which each of 65,536 processors has its own memory capacity and is connected to all others through only 16 intermediaries, (a 16 Dimensional hypercube array). This allows mass computation phenomenons similar to those occurring in the brain by virtue of the interconnectedness of large numbers of relatively simple processing units giving place to a new way of modeling physical phenomena where each processor represents an actual working unit, say a molecule.
Uniting processing and memory has many precedents. For example when total recall is considered: how much more intelligent, (and wise), would we be if we could instantly recall any memory from just this lifetime? The yogic model of the mind represents it as being composed of four aspects with a fifth central one: The Manas and Buddhi, concrete intellect and intuitive discrimination described above, plus the faculty of individuation which allows us to consider ourselves as unitary beings, appropiately named A-ham-kara from "I am", and the Chitta which is translated as memory and said to be retained after death. The fifth central basis for even the existence of mind, (which is only a vehicle), is the Center of Consciousness within. In fact, the root for the mentioned term for memory is Chit which as part of the triune Sat, Chit, Ananda, is translated as Existence, Consciousness, Bliss. This model represents another precedent for the pairing of processing and memory functions insofar as it relates memory directly to consciousness, albeit a reflected one.
According to Connection Machine designer Hills: "With 64,000 processors you can do real problems dramatically faster than you can do them on any other computer." Furthermore, he adds," It's easy to see how to build one ten times or a hundred times or a thousand times as fast, whereas the serial machines- the supercomputers like the Cray- are getting really hard pressed to get another factor of two, factor of three." "Even on this first machine that we built, we're doing thousands of millions of instructions a second (MIPS)." "I think when this technology goes in you'll get much more of a practice of shared communal computing resources".
One can conceive a common knowledge and information resource accessible through high bandwidth fiber optic in which individual processing/memory cells would be assigned to specific intelligent objects capable of programming themselves and interacting with large cell subsets. As the number of processors approaches infinity: Would it be?, could it be?, yes!, the Return of Analog !!!
Ordering And Classifying Everything
By Space: From the sequential ranges of relationships in the Color distribution model a Color Space is derived in which an absolute set of relationships and nesting hierarchies generates large scale meaningful spaces in which classification is automatic.
By Time: A linear chronological continuum can be accurately modeled by the color/tone spectral range allowing, for example,old facts to 'yellow' with age.
By level: physical, bio-energetic, emotional, mental, spiritual.
By discipline: The Symbiconic tree of hierarchical absolute meanings encompasses and classifies all sectors of knowledge.
By function, priority: Symbicons connote activities or states such as action, formative material, highest, etc.
By symbicon being inside the data "For instance, typically you've got some article that's about right, and you want to find the other articles that are like it. You essentially put one article in each processor. The one you've got says: "here's what I'm like", and everybody looks at that and says, "how much am I like that?" and then they order themselves in the order of how much they are like the other article. That whole operation takes fractions of a second for ten thousands of articles. If you can do that very fast then you can easily adjust it. "Oh, yes: that's what I meant; That's not what I meant. Now do it again on the basis of that knowledge." It's fantastic how fast you can get information that way."Hills, ibid
This could lead to data megasets in which the universal classification systems mentioned, (where each object/cell is genealogically coded by color/form/tone and, in fact, is a specific symbicon), govern the placement, retrieval and combination of all cell units thus making possible, thanks to this almost bio-logical computing power, instant location of all data. Thus, software is embedded in hardware and, eventually, the processor, the language and even the user's frame of mind replicate each other. In this way symbicon can serve as the basis for data organization, mapping and retrieval, graphic conventions (signage) as well as an organic logic system anticipating optical computer logic by following some of its rules.
A first aproach to this classification system might involve a hierarchical decision tree of three levels: each w/ 3, 7 & 12 units/nodes respectively. A datum can be thus classified by, first, placing it in one of three "divisions of everything". These first three levels could be easily intuited because of their clear conceptual meaning. For example, blue circle could encompass all that relates to first cause, yellow pentagon to the creative process, red triangle to manifestation and action. Although a seemingly diffuse classification because of each categories' all inclusiveness, it is similar to an a prioritriage, (emergency medical tri-furcation between those that can most benefit from attention and those that, for two reasons, aren't so urgent) which at least starts to separate all of known into at least three areas, even if one is misc.
The next sub categorisation by seven has precedents in the esoteric concept of the Seven Rays, Gurdjieff's Law of Seven, the familiar spectrum of seven colors, musical octave, seven crystallographic systems, etc. Each can be assigned a conceptual basket of values and an appropriate symbicon so that, for example, the first three relate to the previous triage: 1: Power & will, 2: Love & Wisdom, 3: Active Intelligence. The other four also could encompass respectively: 4: Harmony in conflict, 5: Concrete Science, 6: Idealism, 7: Ritual and Order.
Similarly for the third sub-category, all into 12. Base 12 systems include: the 12 tone scale, months, double hours, Chinese years, etc. In this manner, 252 major ranked sub-categories of all knowledge would serve to catalogue any datum set. Further sub-classification can continue as necessary.
It is not a priori important whether these assignations and correlations are in fact correct or real. We know that absolute systems cannot be accurately mapped from a relative level. What is important is to start by making use of this preliminary standard referenced locational structure which will then refine itself through use and according to current usage. However, these groupings are defined, they represent simply an epistemological problem, namely, divide all of known into x sets and define the major distinguishing features of each. This task, although not easy, will become facilitated with system usage and subsequent refinement.
"This kind of paralell machine is good at problems that are large because the amount of knowledge is large, because you can assign processing to each piece of knowledge."Hills, Ibid.
We can also conceive a paralell development to these intelligent meaningful-object-based Virtual Worlds in the computer language itself. The instruction code that governs the individual symbiconic and overall system behaviour would be similarly object based, visual and follow 'natural ' bio-logic.
" I think that the more interesting thing that will happen is when you begin too get the process feeding back on itself. The machines will get good enough at dealing with complexity that they can start dealing with their own complexity, and you'll get systems that evolve. I think in the long run that's going to be a much more important kind of a change than the other one." Hills, Ibid.
It is feasible to contemplate Virtual Worlds which are designed to be programmable and self-programmable so that they are capable of evolving along user-defined and 'self' derived parameters at high speeds. This could lead to possibilities that are difficult to imagine now, but, in a positive context, might take the form, for example, of endlessly complex self-designing art forms, new scientific viewpoints unfolding as fast as they can be assimilated,...
Examples Of Interactive Worlds
There now exist a number of MUDs (Multi User Dungeons) at one half dozen universities. They descend from Lucasfilm's Habitat started in 1985 as a 150 user on-line Virtual environment with 20,000 regions, (each adjoining up to four-screen edges- with passages to others).
"Beyond a foundation set of communications capabilities, the details of the technology used to present this environment to its participants, while sexy and interesting, are of relatively peripheral concern." Chip Morningstar & F. Randall Farmer: Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat in Cyberspace: First Steps, ed. by Michael Benedikt.
"( we attempted to ) use the computational medium to augment the communication channels between real people." Ibid.
Today Habitat has reincarnated in the U.S. through QuantumLink's Club Caribe with a population of 15,000 and, more recently and in Japan, through a technically more advanced version called Fujitsu Habitat.
Virtual Master Games
Virtual multimedia offers a platform perfectly suited to the development of Master Games beyond the combative/positional modes of Chess and GO. These new games, rewarding cooperative and non-violent behaviour through the accumulation of experience and the sharing and collaboration of players, will stimulate awareness of the subtle interrelationships between our powers and abilities leading toward balanced performance and control as well as synchronization of higher functions.
While allowing the user to thread through an increasingly more complex chain of realizations they will graphically demonstrate the possibility of simultaneous in-phase use of brain hemispheres, bringing to conscious awareness the subtle relationships between each finger's energy while offering a synthetic artistic and scientific enjoyment of the Harmony of Co(s)mic Order.
Whether used as a creative experience of fundamental artistic and scientific realities designed to be joyful entertainment and education, or whether as a new art form, these games can set the basis for a universal cognitive medium through which one can explore the common threads of truth that move us, and share them.
These Master Games can also emulate those mysterious processes which humanity has experienced where certain cosmological constructs applied to daily experience can model reality accurately enough to become predictive. "Games" such as the I Ching and the Tarot are informed by subtle components from higher levels which make them, in certain circumstances, mirrors of real time circumstance.
In the 'real' game of Life there are occasions when the mechanical routine of everyday is transcended and the basis of actual reality is approached, such as deja-vu, inspiration, satori, etc. There are also 'cosmic coincidences' described as synchronistic by Jung and representing meaningful coincidences with a very low probability of occurrence but a high relative semantic load. If a living system is more likely to effectively survive in relation to its decreasing entropy, (lack of order), then a Virtual Environment will be successful if it facilitates a high degree of synchronistic experiences, and a corresponding low amount of randomness of little significance.
In A Word
Our specification for worthwhile Virtual Systems is intended to satisfy the metaphysical drive to extend finite consciousness towards increasing intensities and frequencies in several ways: by overcoming the limitations imposed by the blinders inherent in physical experience; by facilitating the breaking down of cognitive barriers, the tearing of the curtain of culture, the piercing of the "bindu", (central point of all mandalas), and the breakthrough to the Whole.
The main requirement for such a Virtual system is thus that it provide a field of experience where holistic awarenesses can facilitate the transition through levels leading towards absolute being.
End (Of The Beginning)
"The world has few defenses against a new idea": Stewart Brand in "The Media Lab", ibid.
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