Humanity versus Virtual Reality

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Humanity versus Virtual Reality

. . . Aiding this process was a definition of information, formalized by Claude Shannon and Norbert Wiener, that conceptualized information as an entity distinct from the substrates carrying it. From this formulation, it was a small step to think of information as a kind of bodiless fluid that could flow between different substrates without loss of meaning or form. Writing nearly four decades after Turing, Hans Moravec proposed that human identity is essentially an informational pattern rather than an embodied enaction.

—N. Katherine Hayles, "How We Became Posthuman"

William Wordsworth was well aware of the effect of technology upon human beings. Of course he would have been speculating had he tried to predict what life would be like in the 21st century; he could not have predicted the internet, for example. As one reads contemporary literature, particularly that which deals with virtual reality or the cyber-punk genre, one begins to see the ways in which Wordsworth's romantic thinking has infiltrated writers' and artists' perception of reality and the human mind. In Wordsworth's The Prelude (1805), Book Twelfth, the poem of primary interest in this essay, Wordsworth questions and contemplates the relationship of the external world with the human mind and perception, which becomes a question about the human soul. Virtual reality and Wordsworth's romanticism have this in common: they are interested in the relationship of the human being with his environment. Virtual reality involves the sensory stimuli of a person in an artificial environment. For Wordsworth, that which gives meaning to the human experience is the environment that is as real and as genuine as the person interacting within the...

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...tities. That which gives us the energy to live and continue creating a society in which we want to live comes from something much larger than science. Reason and logic fail in giving humanity's quest for meaning an answer that is satisfactory and complete. The truth is not compiled or realized with an ordered inquiry; scientists will never find an equation for love. People must look beyond logic in order to realize the extent and the meaning of life.

Works Cited

Hayles, Katherine N. Prologue. How We Became Posthuman. Chicago:

University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Stephenson, Neal. The Diamond Age. Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. New York: Bantam Spectra, 1995.

Wordsworth, William. "Book Twelfth." The Prelude. 1805. The Prelude: 1799, 1805, 1850. Eds. Jonathan Wordsworth, M.H. Abrams, and Stephen Gill. New York: WW Norton & Company, 1979. 436-456.
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