The Virtual Life of People - How the Connected Population of the World Disconnects Us from Real Life Issues!
The Virtual Life of People
How the Connected Population
of the World Disconnects Us
from Real Life Issues
By Wayne S Pierce
We are living in an automated world, built by those that had no restrictions on what they wanted and seemingly endless resources and imagination. The age of the future is upon us! It is only through our connection with ourselves could we have ever possibly imagined a world of such wonder!
The first programmable computer was the Z1, created by Conrad Zuse in the mid-1930’s. That was before the Turing Machine in 1936. The first programmable computer was developed by Tommy Flowers and first demonstrated in 1943. From there the first digital computer, Antanasoff-Berry Computer, in 1937 and then the first computer which stored a program, the EDSAC, performed its first calculations in 1949.
So, you see, the computer has been around for a very long time, and probably was around much earlier than has been described as above. It is very important to understand that the computer, the very thing I’m using to type this, was created to make life easier, or more efficient. The question today, in 2016, is, “Why are we so attached to our electronics?”
Are We Living In A Virtual World?
To answer that question we have to ask when ‘virtual reality’ began. With all the technology we have today, from our ‘smartphones’ to the computers inside our vehicles, it is often asked why we have so much technology and why is it controlling us? There have been many ways that the technology that has been developed has helped us. But, it is that very same technology that has caused a lot of problems for various levels of the populace.
The earliest form of ‘virtual reality’ was developed back in 1957. The viewer would sit in a chair facing a screen. Stereoscopic images, which were images that gave the viewer the illusion of depth and also gave them the view of different angles. It was an enclosed booth with oscillating fans and speakers and there would be a way to emit odors into the booth. From that came to advent of human interaction within the virtual worlds. In the 1980’s Dr. Michael McGreevy developed projects for NASA as well as developing ‘human-computer interaction’.
Today most people are weary or intimidated by what is being done in the world of computing and virtual reality. So much so that, as the 1990’s came and went and now in the 2000’s, people are a little skittish about using the term ‘virtual reality’ and would prefer to identify that area as ‘virtual environments’. As this sounds better, the total immersion of oneself into this virtual environment can be quite addictive.
Y2K - The Year of the ‘bug’
It was December 31, 1999 and people were hearing about a complete ‘crash’ of the ‘internet’ and personal computers by a ‘bug’ that seemingly took shape throughout the world and was going to be ‘infecting’ computers worldwide and shut down everything on January 1, 2000. The day came and went and nothing happened. Everything didn’t shut down and none of the computers worldwide were affected.
This started the whole discussion of ‘worms’ or ‘trojan horse’ computer viruses and it hasn’t stopped since. Today, in August of 2016, there are still those out there developing malicious forms of computer viruses to disrupt the lives of every person on the planet. But, it didn’t start in 2000.
2016 - From the Desk to The Cloud
The first home computer (you’re using one now to read this) was developed in 1976 by Steve Jobs (yes, that Steve Jobs) and Steve Wozniak. That was the Apple I. A year before that there were ‘kits’, developed by Paul Allen and Bill Gates. They went on to form Microsoft. The personal computer ‘wars’ began. Since then both companies have had stellar sales and performed well beyond expectations of their particular investors. Both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates went on to be the faces and voices of their companies.
So, as of 2016, the question is still being asked, ‘What is cloud computing?’ The simple definition is that it is not in the sky outside. Ok, all jokes aside. The question is a serious one so, here’s what I know. The ‘cloud’, as it is called, means “. . . storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer's hard drive.” As the 21st Century continues, cloud computing will become more popular. With that, security measures will be more of a concern than ever before.
Virtual Environments and Cloud Computing and Security
Three things that stand out as a concern to most computer specialists as well as businesses and parents and schools; 1. SECURITY in the cloud. With the advent of the virtual environments (have you played Pokemon Go recently?) and the personal home computer security concerns, one might not be too excited by the idea that all of your information is ‘out there in the cloud’. This has raised more than one or two questions concerning security. 2. HACKING in the cloud. An article by Lucian Constantin, for IDG News Service, writes, “Researchers from security firm Imperva found that attackers could easily hijack user accounts for services from Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Box if they gain limited access to computers where such programs run—without actually stealing usernames and passwords.” This is a major concern for a lot of people that depend on having their information on the cloud. 3. VIRUSES on the cloud. Much like in real life, when people get sick, so do computers. It’s usually the result of ‘hackers’ and what they put out into the world of the internet. From “An Overview of the Security Concerns in Enterprising Cloud Computing”, in the International Journal of Network Security & Its Applications, Vol. 3, No. 1, January 2011, the authors state, “With the increasing popularity of enterprise cloud computing and its public connectivity via the internet it is the next frontier for viruses, worms, hackers and cyber-terrorists to start probing and attacking. Many enterprises are seriously looking into cloud computing to save cost, in the not too distance future cloud computing adoption rate will skyrocket and cloud computing vulnerability to viruses, worms, hackers and cyber attacks will increase because organized criminals, terrorist and hostile nations would see this as a new frontier to try to steal private information, disrupt services and course harm to the enterprise cloud computing network. Cloud computing security risk incident has happened when Google a major cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) provider had its systems attacked and hacked; the cyber-forensics has been traced to the attacks coming from China (Markoff, Barboza, 2010).”
What does this say about the virtual environments that people seem to want to venture into as they continue to be connected to the internet? Where is the security concerns when it comes to home computers being continually infused into the so-called ‘matrix’?
Virtual Environments and Virtual Humans
At first, the concept of being a part of a virtual environment is exciting, almost breathtaking. Then, as we look further into this concept, the fear that we won’t be who we are swirls throughout our minds. Then, as if we didn’t have anything else to fear, we wonder about our own presence and control over our environment. Not only does that cause us alarm, or should, we cannot ignore the fact that at some point in the past someone developed the idea that we could, if possible, have our consciousness ‘uploaded’ into a computer and we could live forever within a virtual world.
This concept has had some far reaching effects on humanity. But, I am getting ahead of myself a little. So, let’s begin by looking at what is called ‘telecommuting’. What is that, exactly? Wikipedia describes ‘telecommuting’ as “. . . a work arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central place of work. A person who telecommutes is known as a "telecommuter," "teleworker," and sometimes as a "home-sourced," or "work-at-home" employee.” With this idea firmly planted into the psyche of the everyday ‘work-a-day’ people in society, who think, “Wow! I don’t have to go into work anymore. I can just stay home and work.”, this was certainly going to be a millstone around the necks of corporate America. So, apparently, shortly after the advent of this idea, computer programmers were called upon to develop ways for people to stay at home and work. Telecommuting was born!
“And now for something completely different!” You’ve heard those words before, I’m sure. But, have you ever imagined that the ‘something-completely-different’ would entail a creation of man's imagination so ‘out there’ that it would engulf the entire world? The vast unlimited advancement of technology within the virtual community, that even the brightest of all minds would question, and the unlimited life one could have, is seen as the ultimate life one would ever desire. The end result of man’s integration into machine would allow man to live forever. Even mortal man strives to live forever, but, as computing technology and processor speeds increase, and now that cloud technology is continuing to grow, man has another avenue to travel on in his efforts to increase his lifespan.
In February of 2011, a Russian entrepreneur by the name of Dmitry Itskov developed, with the help of other specialists in various technological fields, the 2045 Initiative. As they say on their website, as of 17 July 2012, about the 2045 Initiative “. . . The main goals of the 2045 Initiative: the creation and realization of a new strategy for the development of humanity which meets global civilization challenges; the creation of optimal conditions promoting the spiritual enlightenment of humanity; and the realization of a new futuristic reality based on 5 principles: high spirituality, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies.” The ultimate goal, if you research this subject and their website, is to create virtual humans, which allow people to ‘upload’ their ‘being’, their consciousness, into what they refer to as an ‘avatar’. With that, people can live forever in a virtual world.
Virtual worlds and environments are very popular with ‘gamers’ and others who are interested in these types of things. Most of the time people spend hours and tons of money within these worlds. It’s not just for kids anymore. Adults are investing time and lots of money in creating vast worlds within these virtual environments. If you do a search for ‘virtual worlds’ there are a plethora of sites out there on the internet that cater to virtual existence.
What is the fascination with being ‘plugged’ into the world of virtual reality and fantasy? Who benefits from the overall infusion of human-computer interface? What evidence is there that shows the detrimental effects of being fully and completely immersed in a world where your own physical presence does not exist? This and many other questions have been asked and there seems to be plenty of answers from various people in the world of virtual technologies. A little research and investigation will help people answer those questions.
Disconnecting from The Grid
The internet is a wonderous thing. It’s fascinating, to sit at a terminal and just gather information from a multitudes of areas around the world. It’s a whole lot different than sitting at a desk with reference books from the library all over the place. Remember when you were in school many years ago (for those over a certain age) and sitting in your room doing your homework and having all kinds of books all over the place? Remember how you crammed for tests and finals and all that at the very last minute? Well, the internet has been the best friend to the most reluctant of us all. Everything we do now is assisted by whatever information we gather from the netherworld of the interwebs. And, now, in the 21st Century, we cannot even imagine ourselves ever being without it.
The vast amount of information that is out there can be in our hands, in our minds, in our life within milliseconds. Unlike many years ago when it took days or months to research anything to write about. It is apparent that we have become not only obsessed with the ‘internet of things’ but we have aligned ourselves with the technology that supports the internet. It seems, as we wake each day, our plans revolve around ‘connecting’ with others, through all the applications we can download on our personal communication devices. It will always be crucial for people, of a certain age, to remember and engage in what is called ‘discussion’ or ‘conversations’. You know, that thing we use to do before we connected ourselves to the tether of electronics and to the internet?
The big question is, ‘Can we disconnect?’ I know people that have, who have gone out and make the time to get away from their home computers, who leave their cell phones at home, or who just get away for a few days to live with nature, camping, fishing, etc. All those things that people use to do; What happend? Our world was definitely changed when the first personal computer came into our homes many years ago. It wasn’t that long ago, either. As of this year, it has only be about Forty years that a piece of electronic hardware entered our homes and changed our lives forever. Think about that one when you’re outside playing with your kids or throwing the ball around for your dog.
If humanity is to continue to engage himself within this life with others, one might consider setting aside the electronics and the technology and just talk with one another. There’s not enough of that and goodness knows we should get back to that. Now, with the technology behind everything we do, which can be good or bad, we must decide what it is we want. Do we want everything we do to be ‘tracked’? Or, do we want everything we say to be ‘heard’? Or, do we want every single piece of our personal information to be out there ‘on the cloud’?
Many have said it is important to know your limitations. This is good, considering that we are more compulsive toward the ‘new and improved’ and we balk and scoff at anything that is ‘outdated’ and ‘old and run down’. Chances are, when a person looks back at what they had, before biting into the forbidden fruit of technology, one will see that ‘old school’ is not so bad. The ‘new school’ is suppressive and monotone, and the ‘old school’ is viable and steadfast. Which works better for you? What would you do when all of the electronic technology that we have come to know suddenly fails and it all goes away? It’s something to think about. And, when you find the answers for yourself, I’m sure you’ll tell someone, won’t you?
~Wayne S Pierce~
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Copyright (c) 2016 Wayne S Pierce