Futures of Reality. Virtual, Augmented, Synthetic

Author(s): Wellner, Galit

This article starts with Nozick's thought experiment of the experience machine and examines how the negative stance towards such a machine has changed so that virtual reality (VR) technologies and the recently announced metaverse are considered as positive developments. Three genealogical steps are identified: postmodernism through Baudrillard's notion of simulacra; posthumanism as defined by Hayles and her observations regarding the move from the presence/ absence dichotomy to pattern/noise dialectic; and Ihde's postphenomenology, including later theoretical developments that assign intentionality to technologies, especially augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI). This analysis suggests that the metaverse cannot be classified as VR or AR but instead can be framed as "reverse AR" in which real people meet in an imagined space. The genealogy can help us frame metaverse's challenges from deep fake to free will. Nozik's critique regarding the lack of free will in the experience machine returns today as relevant and acute.

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Preferred Citation
Wellner, Galit: Futures of Reality. Virtual, Augmented, Synthetic. In: Navigationen - Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturwissenschaften, Jg. 23 (2023), Nr. 2, S. 156-166. DOI:
 author = {Wellner, Galit},
 title = {Futures of Reality. Virtual, Augmented, Synthetic},
 year = 2023,
 doi = "\url{}",
 volume = 23,
 address = {Siegen},
 journal = {Navigationen - Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturwissenschaften},
 number = 2,
 pages = {156--166},
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