Body, soul and identity in a new ambience|
My current research is split up in two directions:
1. The development of virtual worlds and societies.
2. The development of virtual identities in the information technology, specially in the online environment.
First, I am supervising the research of the
Dutch Electronic Platform,
focussed to the public use of Second Life.
In the first report (October, 2005)
Second Life appears to be a large social experiment. Visitors form societies and make their own rules.
They find their own ways to maintain their standards and values. There are, just as there are in real life,
visitors who enjoy harassing others. Products are sold. Some objects can be copied at will; others are subject
to copyright rules. All sorts of social and economic problems which manifest themselves in real life do so in
Second Life as well.
Now a second research started, focussed to the upcoming participation of business companies in Second Life.
Secondly, as Adjunct Professor I support the mixed reality
research at KAIST in bleeding edge multimedia country South Korea.
At last, but not least my research to the legal aspects of virtual identities.
This research at the Strathclyde University Lawschool is focused to the thesis
"identity, law and behaviour in cyber world", a kind of integration of e-health and
cyberbehavior. Are we still the same identity when chips are in our body? when our
mind is living in the ambience of the cyberworld? in this case: unique identity and
rights in the physical world versus multiple identity in the cyber world. The battle
between human body oriented entity and multiple cyber oriented identities. More and
more, people are using different identities in their transactions. For instance: when
"sleepwalking" in cyber world and doing a weapon transaction as "James Bond"... what's
happening when the company takes this serious and delivers the ordered weapons? When
spending your last money in a virtual Libyan project? Or when using www.mylastemail.com
... who is responsible when something goes wrong, e.g. a virus is spread out or an
e-mail-receiver gets an fatal cardiac attack after reading that mail of a dead friend?
What will happening when an implanted chip changes the individual's behavior, perhaps
adapts the human's soul?
The youngest generations mostly know the lacks in the electronic systems,
used for the digital communication, and use those hints and kinks for
automatically ignoring the sender, or at least his/hers messages.
Now space and time have fallen away all traditional connections and
identities are suppressed on the Internet, both the individual and the
collective ones. New forms of anonymity, gender and identity switches are
cultivated on the World Wide Web, thus superseding the idea of a global
village. It was an adequate vision for the TV era, but is no longer suitable
for the new network systems. The younger generation makes customised SIM
cities. They mix the virtual and physical realities into a hybrid total
Time determines your boundaries, opportunities, cost, and
communication and is therefore a message, just like the medium. A message
that is on time, too early or too late is a message in itself. In effect it
means an essential expansion of Mc Luhan’s theory ‘the medium is the message
’. More and more human’s individual identity is copied to, sometimes
replaced by micro-PC’s, like safeword-tools, smartcards, handsets, ande
other micro-PC’s. De next generation micro-PC is your universal remote
control, but also your individual identity card, driver's licence, cash
card, credit card, smartcard, music player, mini-TV, library card, notebook
Apparently we find ourselves at the edge of science with a theme into which
broader and more in-depth research should be carried out to gain more
insight into the area of tension between (the behaviour of) man, technology
and society, en the effects of communication technology, which has been
changing at top speed in the past decades. The knowledge related to this
technology is spread among specific interscientific communities, such as
Human-Computer Interaction, Tele and Data communications, Computer Supported
Cooperative Work, Embedded chips in bodies, Ambience Technology and Artificial Intelligence.
And furthermore among
cognitive studies, (information) ergonomics, industrial psychology, group
dynamics, communication studies, anthropology, philosophy, health, social
psychology, organisational psychology, sociology and law (on account of
matters such as copyright, identity, privacy and digital government: in this
case private law, public law and international law, including tax law,
information law and right to vote). Optimum use of this knowledge is
hampered by the considerable fragmentation between the various sciences
which – in my experience – do not have much contact with one another.
Identity in Interreality
The actual topic of my next research will be ‘Identity in Interreality’,
with all necessary and desirable perspectives, in the context of the
architecture of a cyber culture. Interreality is the hybrid total experience
of the physical and virtual reality. The aim of this dissertation is an
exploration, a quest into developments in society that are decisive for the
place of new communication technologies, into questions and suppositions
that have arisen along the way, as well as into research that is being
conducted worldwide for years, leading to recommendations, if any. These
issues, the relationship with technology, society, health and innovation is further
worked out in my book Hum@n: chapter ‘Technology and quality of life’ (page 46).
In my explorations I have looked at the phenomenon of 'the virtual world' from
different sides, taking into account the various scientific perspectives,
such as social psychology, communication studies, economics, philosophy, and
ergonomics as well as the legal and technological knowledge areas, with some
emphasis on the electro technical (information and telecommunication) and
Manipulation of information takes more and more often place in the
mainframes than in the brainflames. It fits into the makeable world: you are
made, you make yourself, your time and your identity. But what is your
identity in interreality? Is it one of your digital ID’s in cyberworld? Is
it the SIM of your handy? Is it your safeword plus login? Or is it the
irisscan of your eyes? Is it your fingerprints? Your voice-characteristics?
Or the DNA of your body? How will change the human's soul when chips are implanted in someone's body? Do we have than a new embedded identity?
The virtual world, that has meanwhile come into being, can give a new impetus
to the telecommunication sector with wireless means of access, as long as we
now who the real customer is. But what to do when the customer dies and his
or hers programmed digital actions still continues …. Who is
responsible for these actions, summitted by a specific digital ID?
And how to manage virtual employees, like in Japan, living and working
somewhere in a room with internet connection, who accept all orders
by email and deliver by EDS, waiting afterwards for electronic payment of their fee... Future? It still happens!