November 13, 2016

Game Lecture: Experience Machines - Real Virtual Reality a Philosophical Lecture by Stefano Gualeni

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We are kicking off the Game Lecture Series for the new academic year (2016-2017) with IDG's own Stefano Gualeni taking 'The Experience Machine' and moving it to the modern era -- where virtual worlds and virtual reality are... well... 'real'. The lecture is on Wednesday 16th of November 2016 at 7:00 pm, and is held at the Institute of Digital Games. As usual, this is a public lecture, so everyone is welcome to join!

The topic and summary of November's Game Lecture follows:

Experience Machines: Would you plug in?

'The Experience Machine' is a thought experiment that was proposed in the seventies by American Philosopher Robert Nozick. To quickly summarize Nozick's thought-provoking exercise, he hypothesized the existence of a device capable of feeding a human brain with artificial experiences that are indistinguishable from those that we can develop in relation with the actual world. With 'The Experience Machine', the American philosopher challenged us to envision having access to a device that could indefinitely supplant our everyday lifeworld with a virtual one designed to maximize our pleasure and satisfaction. By presenting us with the possibility of an experience machine, he invited reflections on whether the way we live our lives is solely driven by the pleasure principle or if there is something else that we value other than how we feel ‘from the inside’. If such a machine existed, he asked, "would you plug in?"

Problematizing and supplementing some of the interrogatives raised by 'The Experience Machine', Dr. Gualeni's contribution proposes a philosophical reflection on human experiences in the upcoming age of their 'technical reproducibility'. In it, virtual reality discloses new domains of self-discovery and self-construction.