Digital Mirror: The First Tech-Mediated Psychedelic

Digital Mirror: The First Tech-Mediated Psychedelic

Soon, there will be an app that will collect all of your digital exhaust. This will include everything that you have searched for, tweeted about or liked, every YouTube video watched, every Reddit upvote, and all the StumbleUpon rabbit holes that make up your digital persona. With algorithms like Watson coming online, where natural language is understood and processed, interfacing with your digital persona will be as personal as looking in the mirror. Only this mirror’s reflection is not dependent on who you are in that moment, but who you have been for the length of your digital life.

Amazon ImageThere currently is a free  program called Digital Mirror that analyzes your email and calendar to show who you pay attention to in your social circle. This includes which co-workers you usually ignore, which ones send a lot of  ’buck passing’ emails, and even what topics or users cause you to respond negatively. This program is geared to reflect who you are in the work environment.

What will it be like when you have a virtual avatar looking at you, teaching and learning from you and then responding back?

I feel this can be seen as a technologically mediated psychedelic. The experience would pull you so far out of context and conception of who you think you are that it could change you instantly and forever. One of the most valuable experience of my life was when I took my first psychedelic in the form of a mushroom. I remember seeing myself in the mirror, eyes dilated, colors amplified, with no feeling of intoxication, just a lucidity of introspection. It caused me to perceive myself in the reflection as I was, not as I told myself I would be when I had time, or the other number of  justifications that had resulted in the 350 pound man looking back at me in the mirror. The psychedelic experience gave me a perspective of reality. The clarity in the reflection allowed me to solidify concrete goals for who and what I would see in a mirror of the future. A year later I had lost 150 pounds and was competing in the Ironman triathlon.

Amazon ImageThis might sound a bit out there, but let’s look at some research from Stanford University’s virtual reality lab, where participants experienced what’s been called the Proteus Effect. With the latest in virtual reality technology, users were immersed in virtual environments. When confronted with a mirror the avatar represented in the reflection can be altered, and studies show that this dramatically changes the behaviors and attitudes given the avatar’s appearance. For example, if the avatar was taller, the user would negotiate more aggressively than the users who were given shorter avatars. It was found that the behavioral changes stemming from the virtual environment transferred to subsequent face-to-face interactions. This is only a graphical avatar and studies show how dramatic the effect can be on people who use virtual reality for therapy and such.

When we can see ourselves as we are, not clouded in hyperbole. We are empowered to reflect our best selves. I currently checked the mirror to assess biological hygiene, will I soon be able to check my digital mirror for the state of my mental hygiene? The shows I watch, the websites I visit, the blogs I read, all reflect what’s in my mind.

Future implication:  This “App” that allows you to interface and communicate with the sum of all your digital life, this digital mirror, or representation of everything that has ever been collected online about your persona.Will fundamentally change how we see ourselves. Honestly ask yourself.  What will it be like to interact with a mirror that knows everything about you?

 

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Kevin, who also goes by the moniker ‘Techno-Optimist’, is a philosopher, futurist, researcher, lecturer, and the Executive Director of SeriousWonder.com. He enjoys educating and speaking optimistically about the future and technology.

4 Comments

  1. I’m becoming more and more stoic about these things. Great article.

  2. Let me guess, its sponsored by the NSA

  3. Screw that. Sounds like the worst!
    Like a hit of scopolamine not Psiocybin!

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