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Freeing Experience

     How can one experience and interact with reality in the form and manner of one's choosing?

     To answer this question, I explore the latest in prosthetics, robotics, computer programs, virtual reality, motion capture, brain machine interfaces, biological manipulation, and, I think most importantly, the fundamental nature of being.

     I understand that Legend he Griffonbard and Xodiac the Dragote made some great advances in prosthetics lately . . . some wonderful heads, the use of ABS and PVC by heat moulding them into shapes, they moved from pneumatics to servos to power some truly impressive wings, and Legend's got a sweet digitigrade leg project that imitates the function of a kneeling chair as part of the design.

     In programs, Well of Souls functions as a series of two dimensional environments in which players can pose and text chat as two dimensional characters, and create and share their own music, quests, worlds, objects and avatars dynamically.

     Everquest, developed by Verant Interactive, and published by Sony, involves a cluster of nigh identical three dimensional virtual worlds. Players interact as one of a small number of possible preset humanoid characters with whatever fraction of EQ's ~ 500 000 subscribers play on their particular world. Together, or if one picks the right preset character, alone if you want, they meet a large variety of computer controlled characters, following a script that branches depending on player actions, and kill and loot as many of these characters as they can in a form of combat that compares the statistics of the different entities to determine the winner.

     Besides the usual round of humans-in-various-sizes, from dwarf to ogre, Everquest currently contains playable lizardperson races, and will soon have a playable catperson race this December.

     A proliferation of free servers hosting games that normally cost 10 USA$/month to play, such as Meridian 59, Ultima Online, and Everquest sheds some hope of open source and thereby more and better development and handling and these games. Additionally, it might encourage regular development and improvement of these worlds more in line with Asheron's Call's monthly updates and events. Turbine Software develops Asheron's Call, and Microsoft publishes it. Origin Software developed and published Ultima Online, and 3DO did the same for Meridian 59, now officially defunct. As an example of the above, I point the reader to The Alter Realm which hosts Ultima Online for free.

     Horizons: Empires of Istaria, developed by Artifact Entertainment and funded in large part by online gaming leader NC Soft ( Click here for their English site ), promises similar gameplay to Everquest, along with a broader focus on money, trade skills like blacksmithing, and more extravagant ways to interact with the world involved in the choice of particular preset characters. NC Soft I call the leader as they currently bathe in the money of 2 000 000 subscribers for their game that plays much like Everquest in two dimensions, Lineage: The Blood Pledge .

     Horizons' design document, as well as their current progress, boasts the the game will contain playable merpeople, butterfly winged humans, angels, demons, felinoids, saurians, insectoids, vampires and dragons among a number of other imaginative species. It goes into beta in 2001 December, and planned release looks like 2002 Summer.

     Bioware plans the release of Neverwinter Nights, a peer to peer version of massively multiplayer online games like Lineage, using Bioware's architecture for roleplaying games based on Wizards of The Coast's Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition, such as Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment with a vast, powerful world-creating toolset, in December as well. I spoke to the lead developers at E^3 this year, and they informed me that after initial release, they planned to include toolsets for full customization of in-game models and tilesets.

     Legend also made a program called Face Me while at the now-liquidated Eplanet, which enables live videoconferencing in which a desired character's facial features and voice get mapped onto your features and voice dynamically in a 2-8 person chat environment. This program currently languishes under patent by Intel, which doesn't even seem to know they have the patent, let alone plans to do anything with it.

     Fully wireless motion captures remains possible, as well as suspension rigs to enable full motion capture without worrying about obstructions. Motion capture via video cam was released in a restricted implementation by Intel as a result of some work Legend was involved in at Eplanet. Motion trackers keep going down in price and size and increasing in function, thanks in large part due to innovations of Mass.-based Intersense.

     VR headgear languishes in mass production due to low demand, pricing around 100 US$ to 200 US$ for consumer products such as those offered by Sony remain rather low in resolution (1024 x 768 commercial), visual acuity, apeture (30degrees for most, 60degrees for the out of production Kaisers) , depth of field, and all remain wired and rather cumbersome.

     Retinal imagers, which project images directly onto the retina, remain in specialized (research, military, wealthy, and big budget corporate) applications, and maximum resolutions yet produced go to about 1900 lengthwise. They remain about the size of the average #2 pencil eraser.

     Wireless hookups go to broad commercial application soon with the bluetooth technology, though decent, though not widely adopted standards already exist.

     Brain machine interfaces are getting better, though still used only in research and military - no interface jack needed, solenoid arrays taking the form of little sticky 1" diameter cloth circles you place 2 or more at a time on your temples, with an electroencephalogram (EEG) taking readings remotely or wired, allow for noninvasive interfaces.

     Currently all brain-machine interface devices require personalized training of about 40 hours in order to use a robotic arm, less for less complicated devices, more for more complicated devices - standardization and quicker learning software is being researched at a few institutions like UC Berkeley and MIT, no known corporate researchers.

     Shock D acts a lot like ecstasy in producing euphoric sensations in a person via an interface device similar to that mentioned above, with the little cloth circles wired to a CD player with discs with particular wave recordings on them.

     Biological manipulation remains the field with the most work to be done. DNA having been shown to not code for a complete organism, digital algorithms for the production of life remain little less difficult than they were before. Many research and corporate groups contain research into human cloning and stem cells, primarily for disease treatment applications. Hybridization is very, if somewhat quietly, popular in the agricultural industry, with most of the exploited animals and plants undergoing vast programs of direct genetic enhancement in most industrialized countries.

     "To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is . . . you must begin by knowing that have already arrived . . . The trick was to know that [your] true nature live[s] . . . everywhere at once across space and time.." -- said by Chiang, in _Jonathan Livingston Seagull_, by Richard Bach

     "Your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip . . . is nothing more than your thought itself, in a form you can see. Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body, too. . . ." -- said by J. L. Seagull, in _Jonathan Livingston Seagull_, by Richard Bach

     In 1924, Prince Louis-Victor de Broglie, a French scientist, proved that all particles actually possess a wave aspect, which explained how light can act as a wave even though it does consist of particles, called photons.

     Consist with the ideas from J.L.S., during the 1990s, new work on entanglement - what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance", in which particles of energy/matter predictably interact with each other regardless of how far apart they are, or, seem to exist everywhere at once - resulted in viable uses of instanteous communication, instantaneous computation, and teleportation. People long observed the photon as a distinct example of a component of our reality existing in at least two states at the same time, equally - particle and wave, as de Broglie showed all matter does.

     In 1997, Nicholas Gisin and colleagues at the University of Geneva used entangled photons to enable simple - but instantaneous - communication over a distance of seven miles. Many have since repeated this experiment in many different situations, with many different distances and other such variables.

     This data, combined with the simple, common, cheap materials involved in the construction of such devices, makes wide-spread instantaneous communication very viable. In fact, a high school student in a high school science lab conducted the original experiments highlighting the photon's simultaneous existence throughout space, and subsequently in verification and repetition by researchers throughout the world, all matter and energy's simultaneous existence throughout space and time. Common enough, that so-called teleportation is taught in undergraduate physics courses throughout the world now.

     Any one else have any news to add, or ideas? How can we attain practical, working knowledge of these ideas?

All media on this site: Copyright Stars' Pyre and Sol 3 Sentient Milieu, 2001. Antipatent pending. Use these texts freely. Please credit the original author with reasonable visibility.