5 years ago

The Internet of Realities

We all live in different realities and perceive the reality surrounding us differently. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. But is it only beauty, which is in the eye of the beholder?

We see the world surrounding us filtered through our own perceptions, influenced by our beliefs, preconceptions, upbringing, attitude, and interpretation. Just as the inkblot of a Rorschach test, which is nothing but an inkblot and has no intrinsic meaning itself until our perception gives it a meaning and relevance to our own lives. We integrate our current perceptions with our past experiences and future expectations.

In recent years a whole new, exponentially growing, layer of information has been added to the already complicated reality we witness everyday. The reality surrounding us is not just what we see with our own eyes and experience with all our senses, but increasingly that what gets fed to us 24/7 from each and every nook and cranny of our planet via an increasing amount of digital channels, which perpetrate the ‘real’ Reality that is out there in front of our physical bodies.

We have always seen the world surrounding us differently than the guy/girl next to us. After all, we can never truly see with somebody else’s eyes. Nowadays we don’t even seem to have a clue what the person next to us is looking at while their mind is scanning the endless digital horizon where the sun is simultaneously setting and rising in each and every timezone.

So the realities we all experience are continuously drifting further and further away, while algorithms seem to understand the reality of our best friends and family better than we do ourselves. And because of the so called ‘Filter Bubble’ the internet/social media/Google show us only that which already enforces our already existing beliefs and/or image of Reality: an invisible to the eye, but real technological wall boxing in our image of Reality.

There’s so much information floating around that we have to increasingly rely on outside sources instead of on what we witness first hand. We all know the game where you sit with a group of people around a table, and then the first person whispers a sentence into the next person’s ear, who then whispers it to the next one, etc. It seems that nowadays we live in a giant technological billion people version of that game.

We need experts to dig just like archaelogists through the endless information rubble to find the true gems of truth. It’s already difficult enough to trust our own eyes, so can we truly trust someone else’s eyes? Where do we draw the line between Fake and Fact, if we have to trust facts in this digital overdose presented to us by so called experts, because we are not capable of digging up those facts ourselves anymore?

“There are no facts, only interpretations” said Nietzsche more than a hundred years ago. Was that a fact, or his interpretation back then? Is his statement becoming a fact nowadays in times of Fake News?

And what if, already in the near future, this exponentially growing digital overdose will become too complicated for the human mind to sift through and get a grasp of it? What if we need Artificial Intelligence to help us make sense of Reality? Will it all be in the AI of the beholder?

At Burning Man we are going to explore Reality, solely based on what those who can see beyond our box will tell us, while we ourselves are physically fenced off inside a big black box. How will the walls of our box filter the information which is entering our Reality? Is our box a metaphor for the black box all of us already seem to have around our own heads? Can we still penetrate those digitally enforced walls of the other person’s box to look inside and see what they see?

Nowadays, there is such an information-overload, that we are not capable of processing even a tiny bit of it. We focus on what interests us and check out and read about just those aspects of life, hardly scanning the rest of our surrounding information territory. We extrapolate the information from areas known to us to cover the unknown and form in this way our image of the reality we live in. So each of us lives in his/her own reality. The Internet’s Filter Bubble has led all those individual boxes of reality to drift and float further and further away, widening the gap in-between them. It seems we increasingly live in different realities, while all of them are real.

The Internet of Realities seems to be here already!