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posted by janrinok on Monday March 03 2014, @11:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the no-that's-me-over-there dept.

Papas Fritas writes:

"Kyle Vanhemert reports that a group of researchers in Barcelona are using the Oculus Rift headset to let participants experience the creative process through someone else's eyes and in their latest experiment are letting men and women swap bodies. Two subjects are outfitted with headsets connected so that each participant sees a video stream from point-of-view cameras attached to the other person's rig. The participants are instructed to mimic each other's movements, wordlessly dictating the action in tandem like kids playing with a Ouija board. They start out moving their hands around and touching their arms and bellies, but they then shed clothes, graze their own bare skin, and look into their underwear to give their partner a sense of what it's like to look down and see equipment that's not usually there. The effect is profound says Philippe Bertrand. 'Deep inside you know it's not your body, but you feel like it is.' 'The discovery of 'mirror neurons' by Giacomo Rizzolatti has shown us that you can't conceive an 'I' without an 'us,' Bertrand explains. The group calls it 'The Machine To Be Another' and over the last several months, the group has found a diverse group of researchers interested in their 'embodiment experience platform,' from artists to therapists to anthropologists. Their latest project is focused on VR's potential for fields like gender studies and queer theory, but they're already formulating applications from artistic performances to neuro-rehabilitation. Other studies suggest the effectiveness of embodiment for reducing implicit racial bias. The Machine To Be Another 'aims to promote self understanding, empathy and tolerance among users' across the spectrum. It's basically highly conceptual performance art, though we could see the technology being used in educational settings to help broaden discussions on gender, race, disabilities, and aging."

 
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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Common Joe on Tuesday March 04 2014, @05:05AM

    by Common Joe (33) Subscriber Badge <common.joe.0101NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 04 2014, @05:05AM (#10445) Journal

    I see a lot of people snickering about the removal of clothes bit. I'll try to get this discussion rolling from a scientific point of view.

    I think this is fascinating. I'd be interested to try it with several friends of mine who are not the same race as me and I wish I could carry this into the real world to see life through their eyes.

    I've often wondered what makes a person "human". A person with a missing arm is still human. My friend who is a paraplegic is still human. In the end, a brain in a jar (which is a processor with the ability to store memory) is still human.... but that brain in a jar is missing something important: Input and output. Our ability to touch and smell and see something makes us profoundly who we are. I once met a person who was born without the ability to smell [wikipedia.org]. How can I have a conversation with a person about smell if he never experienced it? There is no common frame of reference that we can use. (Heck, I'm not even sure two people who see "green" are actually seeing the same thing.)

    My wife will never fully understand what it means to be a guy and I'll never understand what it means to be a woman... yet this experiment could (in theory) allow us to cross over temporarily with our visual sense. I find this a pretty fascinating experiment.

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