Virtual Identities: Inhabiting the Net


Session Title:

  • Body (Spacescapes)

Presentation Title:

  • Virtual Identities: Inhabiting the Net



  • Abstract

    Virtual Identity (VI) is a new phenomenon in the media society of the Western or industrialized world. VI is like brains, age or physical body – everyone has it. Commercial companies and public administration have created personal data files of all of us, including our level of education, credit card numbers and so on. At the moment both the commercial and the administrational data keepers sell our personal info to the market, a pile of raw info of the potential consumer. Our identity and personality have been commercialized.  But in the Net we can tailor our VI as we wish. Typical Net identity hacking is to try to emulate the opposite sex than the user is in real life. The Gibsonian cyberspace does not exist yet, but it has been realized by pilots and projects like Abbeye de Cluny, DOOM, Habitat, SIMNET, Virtual Art Museum and Virtual City. When cyberspace will come into existence, it will provide a whole new medium to express our thoughts with 3D visualization – a little like the 2D cave paintings for the ancient humans. In cyberspace, you will be able to send 3D animations/pictures instead of the very gesture-restricted email. As inhabitants of the cyberspace, we have to remember that digital space can not satisfy our physical needs for food, drinks, sleep or personal hygiene. Other forms of ‘life’ will habitat the cyberspace more efficiently. Agents, butlers and personal digital assistants (PDA) are personal, profiled programs, which ‘learn’ the routines of the human user and after learning it will do tasks autonomously. The robot researchers of MIT leaped on to the next generation in the 1980’s, inventing that a robot needn’t make preprogrammed tasks – it is
    enough for it just to survive. This means that if the efficient computer program ‘wants’ to survive it might reject its original task-making and ‘decide’ to behave unexpectedly. In the Net history we have the example of R.T. Morris and his worm of 1988. And this was a mere coding mistake, to begin with. ‘When all the phones in the world ring at the same time, you know I’m alive.’ What if the purpose of human life is just a step towards the evolution of a-life and other true habitants of the cyberspace.