Kabuni
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Kabuni

Embodiment (#wtf)

In the world of VR, XR, MR, AR, one thing is for certain — we are currently standing on the edge of a precipice of exponential societal change.

Remember 1995? (well, some of us do) More specifically — do you remember the state of the internet in 1995? Was that the year you got an email address? Was that the year you said “double-u, double-u -What????” —

One thing economists and futurists can agree on is that VR, AR, XR, MR (I think there’s a pirate joke in there somewhere….) and all of the existing technology is in its infancy, – specifically in regards to offering a commercially viable product that will be adopted by the masses.

But it’s coming. The proof is in the pudding — #Zuckerberg is actively, or should I say aggressively, intent on defining the future of metaverse. #rebrandfacebook????

In my thesis research thus far, there is a lot of talk about the brain, and rightly so — neuroscience, neurodynamics, neuropathy – anything “neuro” is extremely interesting — not only that — it clearly holds the key to answering so many questions — the intricacies of our neural networks, how we, as humans, function, how we engage with our world, how we learn, how we communicate — a plethora of intrigue and interest. Our brains, and holy moly my own brain #gratitude, is an intricate neural network that is an absolutely mind-blowing, gosh darn, no other word does it justice, miracle.

I’m fascinated — absolutely. I’m digging in, I’m researching everything I possibly can. I’m a f*cking maniacal sponge when it comes to learning about the relationship between virtual reality and -neuroplasticity, neurodiversity, motor neuron diseases, pain management, military first responders, industrial training, cognitive behavioral therapies, mental health, wellbeing, mindfulness, health, education, art, and culture. Heck, I’m doing a Ph.D. on the psychological and physiological impact of experienced virtual reality.

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) vs. Brain-Computer Interaction (BCI) is a vital investigation and field of interest. How our minds interact with technology is one of the most exciting aspects of being human today. On a daily basis, my synapses are being blown open by a new online platform, new technology, and new engagement with media content. But I’m also aware that my brain is being manipulated, the psychological impact is being researched and used against us.

But my argument here is not about whether or not we should engage in social media or technology. That conversation is done. BUT, if we think of social media platforms on a macro level — if we consider social media — “as the current state of technology “ (thanks #GaryVee) — then 2021, is a stepping stone to something more, a dot on the existence of humans on this planet and now – we are simply another dot on the co-existence of humans and machines on this planet.

Looking back we can see the dots clearly — if only we could see where the current dot is taking us.

And this brings us back to ….. the metaverse.

Do I want to be an avatar? Maybe. I’m not sure yet.

Do I want a digital twin? Yes, I think I do.

Do I want to engage with NFTs? — play around with tokens, coins, alternate currencies? I’m still not sure, (side note: I do think there’s something beyond the current state of NFTs and blockchain that I’m more interested in…)

Do I want to be part of this, yet to be defined, metaverse? Yep.

Do I want to allow my digital twin to thrive in communities I’ve never dreamed of?

Do I want to contribute to this future world that my children’s children will be active members of?

Absolutely, resoundingly YES I DO!

The problem is — I put on a HMD, and certainly when I engage on desktop platforms like Breakout (where I recently joined a panel discussion with #MatthewBall, apparently a Metaverse VC God — remind me who said so?, and #GenePark of the Washington Post), and dare I say anything like #fornite #facebook/horizonworkroom or any standard app on #Oculus — my body disappears. or even worse, it’s replaced by something completely awkward and disconcerting.

But, what about the body? What about MY body? (Stay with me here….)

I know, I know what some of you more enlightened people are thinking — — and yes, I agree that the body doesn’t exist in the way that I perceive it without my mind. Good ol’ #Deepak #Chopra tells me that my body is fleeting, temporary, visceral, and even transformable — that I can change it, heal it, within the process of cellular regeneration, and that my spirit/soul is infinite, while my mind is a communication network/pathway for the body and soul while I inhabit this physical reality.

And absolutely, I’m an advocate for mindset paradigm shifts #thematrix

And undoubtedly, the power of positive thinking is one of our most valuable tools as we navigate our way through the ups and downs of life.

But, what I do know, is that our body, ok, ok, ok — for sure my own body (how it is feeling, being, living), is directly related to how I experience this moment. right now. right here. in the present. and somehow, we know that this is part of the key to happiness. Experiencing the now. fully and completely. #thepowerofnow

So — what about MY body?

That’s what I’m interested in. And when I say interested, I mean I am willing to sacrifice blood, sweat, and tears of my own – and my loved ones to answer.

When I move my body, in the physical world, it means something. When we enter the Virtual World and we move our body — we begin to describe the connection of body as avatar (and vice versa) as — embodiment. (The three basic aspects of virtual reality are considered to be — 1. immersion 2. presence 3. embodiment.)

Embodiment — it’s not talked about enough.

So, I will. I’m setting my intention here- more more more — embodiment — -more investigation into how the experience of embodiment affects integration into the virtual world, more importance placed on mind/body connection in the virtual world. The power of VR is not necessarily to produce a faithful reproduction of the current reality but rather that it offers the possibility to step outside of the normal bounds of reality and realize goals in completely new and unexpected ways. Perhaps one of these is the maladies of mind/body disconnection (damn you #Descartes).

I’m also fully aware that technology available to us right not is not quite capable of this, yet. A reminder that we are on a precipice — as we design the potential future of humanity — let’s not leave our physical bodies behind again.

One thing science/medicine/ knows for sure is that when our physical body is ignored — on a soul connection-level — our mental health suffers and then, unfortunately, our personal world suffers — and on an existential level, the world suffers (it shouldn’t be so hard to be “mindful” — my opinion is that apps like Headspace should NOT need to exist, but alas, they do #boo).

And I’m not some woo-woo wacko coming at y’all like — let’s hold hands and do some chanting together #respecttheyogis —

I’ll also make it clear that am I NOT a sex predator hunting down my next sexual fantasy and seeking kinky pleasure in the metaverse (I’m sure there’s plenty of those, God help us all).

I am just a simple human who knows that the metaverse will be the end of us if we don’t start with healthy building blocks (or roblox) and healthy, whole people

#dothefuckingwork

Thanks for reading xo

Nina

Does this conversation make you uncomfortable? Am I crazy for thinking this way? Who am I to suggest this? Well, who are any of us…..

What do you think? Tell me your truth in the comments below.

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Nina Jane Patel

Nina Jane Patel

Co-founder + VP of Metaverse Research — Kabuni | Seeing Possibilities | Creative Futurist | Embodied Technology | Psychotherapist | Doctoral Research