In an address to the VRX conference in San Francisco, noted game developer and tech wizard, Jesse Schell predicted that over 8 million VR gamer headsets will be sold in 2016. Facebook purchased Oculus Rift, presumably laying the groundwork for a future where friends and family will interact in rich virtual spaces. All the major players, including Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, Google and an HTC and Valve partnership are jostling for the consumer headset market.
Experimenting with VR in his classes as part of a project piloted by Seattle-based foundry10, a privately funded research organization that creates partnerships with educators to implement, research and explore the various intersections of emerging technologies and learning, including VR..
As an educational tool, VR might prove transformative. Google Expeditions allows students to take over 100 virtual journeys from ancient Rome to the surface of Mars. It might also have a big impact on social emotional learning (SEL), as VR’s unique ability to produce empathy recently led Wired magazine to explore its potential as “the ultimate empathy machine”. Addressing a persistent anxiety, Suter used Samsung Gear’s Public Speaking Simulator to successfully prepare a few nervous students for class presentations, reporting they felt “much more calm” during the live delivery.
In a recently published article, researchers Michael Madary and Thomas K. Metzinger from Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany review a series of ethical considerations when implementing VR. The illusion of embodiment may provide VR’s greatest value to education, but also lies at the heart of its ethical implementation. Madary and Metzinger believe that VR is not just an evolution from television and video game screens, but a revolution that will have an enormous social impact. In their paper, they claim that:
VR technology will eventually change not only our general image of humanity but also our understanding of deeply entrenched notions, such as “conscious experience,” “selfhood,” “authenticity,” or “realness.”
It’s important to remember that many current VR uses in schools, like Google Expeditions, are not interactive VR, but simply 360-degree video experiences. In these cases, students experience immersive 3D pictures or panoramas, but do not deeply interact with the content. The illusion of embodiment is a product of interactive content and motion tracking, where users can alter and affect their environment and engage with others who share their virtual space. Headsets like the Vive and Occulus Rift fall under this latter category, but it won’t be long before most, if not all, consumer oriented VR technology will be completely immersive and interactive.
1. Long-Term Effects and Prolonged Exposure
2. The Impact of Environment on Agency and Behavior
3. Aggravating Preexisting Psychological or Emotional Issues
4. (Un)Reality and Diminished Real World Interactions
Truth and Power, the final episode of which airs tonight on Pivot. Directed by Brian Knappenberger.
Knappenberger, who directed the feature-length documentary The Internet’s Own Boy, about the late Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz.
Social Media Has Helped Activists Reclaim the Narrative
it’s not just activists who are benefiting from new technologies. Knappenberger spends nearly half the series carefully explaining the myriad ways governments and corporations use digital tools to surveil social movements. From examining the cell-phone tracking technologies used by law enforcement to uncovering how repressive regimes work with American tech companies to thwart social movements, the series offers up a smart meditation on the threat of digital surveillance on political dissent
It’s a problem Knappenberger illustrates in the “Activists or Terrorists” episode, where he unpacks how “Ag-gag” laws were passed under pressure from corporate lobbying and have made it illegal to film or photograph inside any animal farm without consent of the facility’s owner.
“Prisoners for Sale,” the seventh episode, explores the story of two inmates-turned-journalists who started an independent publication to document systemic failures of the prison industrial complex.
More on technology and civil disobedience in this IMS blog
FBI quietly changes its privacy rules for accessing NSA data on Americans
Classified revisions accepted by secret Fisa court affect NSA data involving Americans’ international emails, texts and phone calls
The FBI has quietly revised its privacy rules for searching data involving Americans’ international communications that was collected by the National Security Agency, US officials have confirmed to the Guardian.
In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA and FBI dragnet surveillance, many Americans are concerned that their rights to privacy and intellectual freedom are under threat. But librarians are perfectly positioned to help our communities develop strategies to protect themselves against unwanted surveillance. In this webinar, Alison Macrina and April Glaser of the Library Freedom Project will talk about the landscape of surveillance, the work of the LFP, and some tips and tools librarians can use to resist pervasive surveillance in the digital age.
About the Presenters:
Alison Macrina is a librarian, privacy rights activist, and the founder and director of the Library Freedom Project, an initiative which aims to make real the promise of intellectual freedom in libraries by teaching librarians and their local communities about surveillance threats, privacy rights and law, and privacy-protecting technology tools to help safeguard digital freedoms. Alison is passionate about connecting surveillance issues to larger global struggles for justice, demystifying privacy and security technologies for ordinary users, and resisting an internet controlled by a handful of intelligence agencies and giant multinational corporations. When she’s not doing any of that, she’s reading.
April Glaser is a writer and an activist with the Library Freedom Project. She currently works as a mobilization specialist at Greenpeace USA, where she focuses on ending oil extraction in the Arctic. Prior to Greenpeace, April was at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, organizing around the net neutrality campaign and EFF’s grassroots programming. April also previously worked with the Prometheus Radio Project, where her efforts helped propel the passage of the Local Community Radio Act, the largest expansion of community radio in U.S. history. She lives in Oakland, California and continues to work with local organizations on a range of digital rights issues.
Can’t make it to the live show? That’s okay. The session will be recorded and available on the Carterette Series Webinars site for later viewing.