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From Here To Singularity

"The time from here to Singularity depends sensitively on the particulars of what we humans do during the next decade (and even the next few years)."

Archive for September, 2007

Game designers are exploiting the players: Unethical Games

It’s hard to argue that video games are not capable of developing a dependency in their users. As I’ve posted before, the situation has grown so acute that 10 South Koreans — mostly teenagers and people in their twenties — died in 2005 from game addiction-related causes.

At a recent conference in Melbourne, Australia, Jonathan Blow, a prominent independent developer labeled modern games such as World of Warcraft unethical.

[The reward system used by many online games] is very easily turned into a Pavlovian or Skinnerian scheme,” he says. “It’s considered best practice: schedule rewards for your player so that they don’t get bored and give up on your game. That’s actually exploitation.”

Developers should provide activities that interest players “rather than stringing them along with little pieces of candy so that they’ll suffer through terrible game play, but keep playing because they gain levels or new items”, he says.

“I think a lot of modern game design is actually unethical, especially massively multiplayer games like World of Warcraft, because they are predicated on player exploitation,” Mr Blow says.

He believes players will naturally avoid boring tasks but developers “override that by plugging into their pleasure centres and giving them scheduled rewards and we convince them to pay us money and waste their lives in front of our game in this exploitative fashion”.

Link to article.

It may be relevant to trot out this old gem – The View From the Top – a post from a highly successful online gamer who, after a year of toiling away online, quit ‘cold turkey’ from the entire environment.

Don’t get me wrong, WoW did a lot of things right. At times it was a fun game that allowed me to keep in contact with friends who lived far away. More importantly it introduced me to some of the best real life friends I’ve ever met. However, it did take an undeniable toll on me and is taking a far greater one on many, many people when taken too far.

Wheelchair Controlled by sub vocalized speech

One step closer to mind reading – this wheel chair interprets sub-vocalized speech – in other words, your stream of internal self-talk, and turns it into movement.

I can see how this would be useful. I can also see how thinking “that pillock on my left is really annoying me.” might turn you to face them.

Physicists have ‘solved’ mystery of levitation

Not particularly singularity relevant, but neat nonetheless:

Levitation has been elevated from being pure science fiction to science fact, according to a study reported today by physicists.

Professor Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, have worked out a way of reversing this pheneomenon, known as the Casimir force, so that it repels instead of attracts.

Their discovery could ultimately lead to frictionless micro-machines with moving parts that levitate But they say that, in principle at least, the same effect could be used to levitate bigger objects too, even a person.

The Casimir force is a consequence of quantum mechanics, the theory that describes the world of atoms and subatomic particles that is not only the most successful theory of physics but also the most baffling.

Now, using a special lens of a kind that has already been built, Prof Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin report in the New Journal of Physics they can engineer the Casimir force to repel, rather than attact.

Physicists have ‘solved’ mystery of levitation – Telegraph

It’s here – 3d tv.

I’d say more, but my hands are hurting right now…