Philosophy Of Cyberspace


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The term ‘Cyberspace’ encapsulates fascinating technologies such as 3D displays,
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality as well as simply surfing
the web. Therefore Cyberspace is a relevant concept to almost everyone even today.

• Why are we attracted to Cyberspace?
• The moral issues and aspects faced in Cyberspace
• Hierarchies of realities and Platos' concept of 'Ideas'
• Rene' Descartes and scepticism - Can we differentiate between realities?
• Are we faced with the worst drugs ever known to mankind?

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Philosophy Of Cyberspace

  1. 1. Philosophy of the Future Amnon Carmel Amnon Carmel
  2. 2. Introduction to the Philosophy of the Future "I never think of the future, it comes soon enough.“ (Albert Einstein) Amnon Carmel
  3. 3. Why Philosophy? • Humans are mentally identical for the last 200,000 years • We have been questioning our world ever since • Plato lived 2,400 years ago, Descartes lived 400 years ago. We are still dealing with similar issues today • We truly are standing on the shoulders of giants Amnon Carmel
  4. 4. Why Future Technologies? • Amazing technologies are emerging, but are still at early stages • Technology advances exponentially (The law of accelerating returns) • Technology is advancing much faster than culture, morals and ethics • We should think and plan ahead • Robots, Genetics, Nanotechnology, Life extension, VR, BMI, AI, and more... • Tonight I will discuss the Philosophy of Cyberspace Amnon Carmel
  5. 5. Cyberspace Technologies “This is just the beginning, the beginning of understanding that cyberspace has no limits, no boundaries.” (Nicholas Negroponte) Amnon Carmel
  6. 6. What Is Cyberspace? • Cyberspace = Space & Cybernetics • Coined by William Gibson in his book „Burning Chrome‟ (1982) • Refers to „Real‟ Virtual Reality (VR) • Relates to all virtual environments • Cyberspace is in its early stages • Real VR will change everything... Amnon Carmel
  7. 7. Cyberspace Technologies Amnon Carmel
  8. 8. Cyberspace Technologies Amnon Carmel
  9. 9. The Philosophy Of Cyberspace “The further backward you look. The further forward you can see” (Winston Churchill) Amnon Carmel
  10. 10. Cyberspace as Ultimate Drug • Addiction • Creativity • (False) sense of Freedom • Alternative reality • Disconnection between mind and body • False interpretation of the senses Amnon Carmel
  11. 11. What Draws us to Cyberspace? • Aesthetic attraction • Home for our souls • Social interaction • Thirst for knowledge (Erotic attraction to Eros) • We long for escapism – Escape reality • Escape from our physical prison • Escapism is common in many cultures • Cyberspace will be the ultimate drug Amnon Carmel
  12. 12. A Higher Realm Of Reality? “The surrogate life in cyberspace makes flesh feel like a prison, a fall from grace, a descent into a dark confusing reality. From the pit of life in the body, the virtual life looks like the virtuous life.” (Michael Heim) Amnon Carmel
  13. 13. Plato And The „ Ideas ‟ • Plato claims that there is a higher realm of reality • In this reality all „true‟ forms (Ideas) appear • Our reality is a dull shadow of the Ideas • We cannot relay on our senses, only on Plato logic, math and ideas 348–347 BC Amnon Carmel
  14. 14. Allegory of the Cave • Thought Experiment Written by Plato in „The Republic‟ (380 BCE) • Imagine a group of prisoners in a cave • Captors display shadows on a wall • Prisoners believe that this is the reality • One of them escapes and experience the „real world‟ • He tries to free his friends but they don‟t believe him and reject freedom • Moral: We must not rely on our senses There is a hierarchy of realities We might be blind in the face of the ‘real’ reality Amnon Carmel
  15. 15. Hierarchy of Realities • Similar to Plato„s “Ideas”, Cyberspace can be seen as a different form of reality • Cyberspace creates an illusion for the senses and the mind (a.k.a. Virtual Reality) • Cyberspace is viewed by most people as a lower form of reality • Yet Cyberspace can be seen as a higher level of mental reality – Hyperreality • Mental freedom is key to understand the attraction to cyberspace • Our world fails to compete with cyberspace Amnon Carmel
  16. 16. Preferred Reality • Being in Paris is better than watching a documentary • But what about a 3D IMAX movie? / Virtual Reality? / „Real VR‟? • Where is the border line between preferred realities? Amnon Carmel
  17. 17. Post-Avatar Depression “When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed ... gray. It was like my whole life, everything I've done and worked for, lost its meaning,” “It just seems so ... meaningless. I still don't really see any reason to keep ... doing things at all. I live in a dying world.” (User named „Eltu‟ in the "Avatar" forum page) Amnon Carmel
  18. 18. Rene Descartes Scepticism • Tried to set a base for science • The apple basket allegory • Takes Scepticism to the extreme • One cannot rely on our senses • We can rely only on the Cogito (not even on math!) • “Cogito Ergo Sum” René Descartes 1596 - 1650 Amnon Carmel
  19. 19. The Cogito In Cyberspace • Cyberspace provides a home for our Cogito • Our Cogito is free to roam in cyberspace • Our senses are fooled by a digital illusionist demon • All knowledge is in doubt including physics and mathematics Amnon Carmel
  20. 20. Is Cyberspace Our Salvation? Amnon Carmel
  21. 21. Is Cyberspace Our Demise? Amnon Carmel
  22. 22. Is Cyberspace Moral? “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied... And if the... pig, (is) of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question.” [John Stuart Mill] John Stuart Mill Amnon Carmel
  23. 23. Summary • Cyberspace provides gradual progression towards „Real VR‟ • Cyberspace could be seen as a higher realm of reality for the mind • Cyberspace provides amazing benefits yet also holds horrific dangers • We need to prepare ourselves for the coming technologies in order to have a better tomorrow • “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” (Native American Proverb) Amnon Carmel
  24. 24. Questions? Amnon Carmel Amnon Carmel