What is the philosophical, ethical and social outlook that should be taken in virtual reality?

Sophie Balcon Formo, Alexandre Michelin, Yassine Ait Cassie and David Nahon.

If the idea of ​​virtualization was old, it is now exacerbated and questioned by the projects of large digital companies that rely on virtual reality and the creation of meta-universes. Eliminating physical distances, what kinds of interaction and experience do immersive technologies create and how will they evolve?

During the SITEM exhibition, a round table was held titled “Do Immersive Technologies Bring Us Closer or Are They Tools for Imaginary Social Connection?” It was organized by AFXR, an association that questions immersive technologies and their uses. The conference dedicated to the cultural world was above all an opportunity to return to and question the concept of virtual reality From a philosophical, moral and social point of view.

David Nahon, Director of Virtual Immersion at Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Laboratory, noted that virtual reality was already a professional medium but still had to reach the general public. According to him, experiences are often presented as fanciful or miserable, but rarely are they actually.

A good introduction to Pierre Mousseau, Doctor of State in Political Science, researcher at Télécom Paris Tech and specialist in the concept of fantasy, who provided a philosophical view of virtual reality. He explained that the word ‘virtual’ derives from the same Latin word ‘virtualis’ which is translated from the Greek word ‘dunaton’. According to Aristotle’s definition, the term “dunaton” defines what is possible, i.e. amplitude. It translates the idea of ​​movement, flow, change. In Aristotle, “Dunaton” is inconsistent with reality. In the twentieth century, it was Bergson and Deleuze who considered the matter by opposing the virtual and the actual. Only possible true repeats. Whereas the default will update itself and make a difference. His strength is his creativity.

Outside the philosophical realm, reality is opposed to virtual reality. In 1980, American Jaron Lanier used the term “virtual reality” to describe sensory experiences that a computer produces and manages. Virtual reality revitalizes the contrast between fictitious/imaginary and real according to Pierre Mousseau.

According to him, there are three issues behind the concept of virtual reality:

  • The first is the idea of ​​spatial delamination. Virtual reality erases the space in which we can no longer put ourselves. Virtual belongs to another space-time. The challenge is to identify this space-time and build its maps.
  • The second is the physical body. Pierre Musso points to Michel Gibson’s Neuromancer book, which inspired the Matrix films. The question is non-incarnation and the relationship with one’s own body.
  • The third issue is taken from the work of George Balander which shows that when Christopher Columbus discovered America, this new world was tangible and natural. The contemporary challenge is to discover new, artificial worlds. “You have to create it, explore it, understand it, and inhabit it.”, he added. According to the researcher, this is the greatest challenge of the twentieth century: “The time of discoveries is over. New worlds are no longer connected with lands, but with imagination. And imagination makes it possible to multiply the power of creation.”

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Virtual reality questions the idea of ​​existence

Sophie Balcon Formo has written a thesis on the use of virtual reality in the cultural and creative industries. According to her, virtual reality gives the illusion of place and plausibility. It gives a sense of being there and makes it possible for the hypothetical situation to be considered credible. It is often associated with the concept of existence, which is divided into three forms:

  • Remote presence, or the feeling of being present in the digital world more than in the physical world.
  • Self-existence, the feeling that the virtual self is experienced as the real self. His virtual body is contacted through avatar and interaction.
  • Social presence, or the feeling of being with other people in a virtual world. This presence is linked to the concept of reasonableness.

“These concepts of existence are not a state, but a process throughout the experience Sophie Balcon Formo explained. It is the principle of incarnation that is based on the acceptance of the environment and the embodied character. According to her, a virtual reality headset is a communication machine. But the machine does not change the person. It is man who directs the machine with the standard of what it is. In the cultural world, this experience allows access to knowledge in an active way while cementing it in memory through emotions. “Visitors can show resistance depending on their relationship to digital tools and the collective imagination. They will primarily seek the benefits of this experience.

According to her, virtual reality makes it possible to create reciprocity between players in the sector and does not create an illusory society. On the other hand, it raises political and ethical questions.

Are the superuniverses the new Wild West?

Later in the conference, Yassine Ait Kassi, Technical Director and Strategist at ELYX addressed the topic of metaverses. He defines them as shared and collective virtual spaces in which the concept of ownership exists. “We live in exciting times, because the layers of these concepts are independent of technology,” Did he say. According to him, metaverses are interesting in terms of sustainability, because they seek layers rather than accumulation. It is possible to develop immaterial creativity while organizing to incorporate carbon emissions in order to incorporate them into the process. “You can change behavior with desire, not with restraint.”he added.


To read too : What meta-universe does Facebook want to create?


“Will every company have its own metaverse? asked David Nahon. If so, the question of international governance is paramount. The new world leads to the creation of a new region and thus new frontiers.” “In the real world, it is really critical. We will have to make sure that these worlds are inclusive.”Yassine Ait Kassi added. When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written, no one believed that it should extend to a virtual world.

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