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Virtual Reality and Drugs — Yes, You Should Get High Before Using VR

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    Yes, you really should get stoned before using VR.

    [See the full post at: Virtual Reality and Drugs — Yes, You Should Get High Before Using VR]

    Maria Korolov

    Virtual reality is a new medium.

    Whether you should get high or not while using it TOTALLY depends on the content.

    For example, if you’re in VR in order to learn how to fix an airplane engine, then you probably should be sober — just as if you were reading the manual on paper, or watching a video of how to do it.

    On the other hand, if you’re experiencing something purely for entertainment, then your state of mind is up to you. Just as it would be if you were, say, playing traditional video games, or watching SpongeBob Squarepants, or reading Shakespeare.

    Similarly, if you’re going into a virtual reality social world (like Second Life, for example, which now supports the Oculus Rift), you could do it sober and participate in events that raise money for charity, or help build a virtual college campus, or you could go in drunk and hit the virtual bars and nightclubs.

    You can’t judge all of virtual reality, the medium, by a few high-profile entertainment experiences, no more than you would judge print books by Burrough’s “Naked Lunch” — or movies by “Naked Lunch” for that matter, either.

    Is it addictive? Yes, in the sense that any medium is “addictive.” I love to read books and a few generations back they might have called me a book addict because I read so many books and would sometimes rather read a book than interact with people.

    Two generations ago, people might have worried about my addiction to television because there was that time I couldn’t stop watching Battlestar Galactica even to go to sleep. (That was a weird few days! But man that show is great!)

    Last generation, my parents might have been worried about my video game or Internet addiction. And yes, to an outside observer, it might look like I have a problem — I’m online for the entire work day, then come home and go back online, and if I’m away from my computer I’ve got my smartphone on which I check my email and play games when in line, in waiting rooms .. anytime I’ve got a few minutes to kill. Creepy, right? But I get paid for it now, so suddenly it’s okay — I’m not an addict, I’m a workaholic. And I’ll get bored with that stupid 2048 game eventually. I’m already tired of Facebook.

    Next, we’re going to worry about virtual reality addiction, at least while it’s new. After it becomes old hat, we’ll no longer be talking about “virtual reality” as if it was one big thing. We’ll be complaining about the long hours we have to spend at our virtual offices, or talking about the latest virtual version of Grand Theft Auto, or watching virtual movies, or hanging out in Virtual Facebook World, or secretly downloading virtual porn.


    Sorry, I’m not an advocate of drug abuse, and disagree that VR is a good excuse to use drugs. If you are an addict you don’t really need an excuse anyway…

    To publish and article that encourages drug abuse as this appears to do, seems irresponsible to me.

    The comparison of VR to LSD is not a valid one (and no, I’ve never tried LSD), and VR is not an extension of drug induced effects any more than television has been.

    It seems to me that one purpose of transhumanism should be to identify which directions are actually harmful to human beings and will lead to our destruction. One can readily make the case that a population addicted to herion or LSD would likely collapse. Perhaps certain applications of VR would also do that, or, as Asimov illustrated, possible offshoot cultures that include life extension and robot prevalence might cause a civilization to decay and slowly die.

    My two cents…


    THanks for the feedback, I’m definitely interested in other points of view.

    THings might collapse or stagnate or….


    My view is that what it is, is up to us. And focusing on such negative outcomes misses the mark.

    As far as the article itself…

    The science pretty much stands on its on as far as VR and cannabis. Cannabis reduces simulator sickness and enhances the illusion of VR. Anecdotally there is a long history of experiments like this and some more recent ones as well linked from the article which seem to confirm these ideas.

    I’ve provided some I hope humorous history and backed it up with scientific reasons that support the notion. Novel ideas related to this might point to new virtual environment simulation methods or improved interfaces. Now whether you should use this knowledge or use VR or drugs would be a personal decision. I have no opinion. But there it is, I am reporting some true history and the science confirms VR is enhanced by cannabis. There is at least one claim it is a good problem solving interface under the influence of LSD as well, and further exploration of this claim might fit into an existing research program at Stanford. You don’t have to support the research.

    My view: Chemically enhanced interface systems might have utility for specific creative, scientific or personal transformative purposes. It doesn’t have to be escapist, it can be crazy beautiful and drop dead useful at the same time.


    Thanks for the response and for the opportunity to provide some additional random but possibly interesting musings.

    My personal policy on drugs is that if you are over 21, have all of the information and have the means to support yourself while you are destroying your brain, then go for it. Unfortunately, all of the problem drug users I’ve ever talked to started when they were an early teenager, so by definition, they were addicted without their informed consent. This is why my response above was strong. There are certain things that just can’t work…

    Another note, when I was much younger, I studied jazz piano and used to visit the club where my mentor, a well known player, played with his three piece combo. Other players would sit in with the group, often after having smoked marijuana. My mentor noted that they did that because they thought it made them play better. But he mentor had heard them both high and sober. They played better sober, their own perception to the contrary.

    Interesting link on Paradise-engineering, in a lot of ways hits the nail on the head. Humans beings are wired from an evolutionary perspective (this is straight evolutionary psych, a la Tooby and Cosmides) to strive, compete and care according to the instincts that have helped them survive since species inception. Blissully pursuing anything usually leads to boredom and abandonment, unless there is a goal of somekind involved (recognition, affections of the opposite sex, acquisition of resources, etc).

    My experience in traveling the world and experiencing 30-40 different cultures is that if there is not enough strife for human instincts to overcome, people will actively create it. If there is too much strife, people will still find ways to enjoy life anyway. So any paradise would have to take this into account.

    Yet another note, the article mentions “wirehead rodents.” I’m an avid fan of SF and note that the Ringworld novels talk about wireheads (human) who basically shut down while they are attached. Additionally the “tasp” an instrument that provides instant bliss for a short period of time, is considered the most brutal of weapons since it makes a slave of those affected enough times. Might want to work that possible scenario into your utopian/distopian scenarios.

    If you change human instinct then you have to ask, are we really talking about humans anymore? Further, if you take these survival instincts away, even in the light of more advanced technology, do you still have a survivable species? After all if a species doesn’t care enough if it lives, it will eventually die out. Perhaps this is the fate of all species…

    Final note on reaching any kind of utopia, even if it were possible and a plan existed, just remember this (and you know its true): “Being smart and knowledgeable” and “being popular and influential” are two completely different skill sets…


    Thanks again for the further comments and feedback. The reason I write and post somewhat controversial articles from time to time is precisely to encourage thinking and conversation about these topics.

    I think the article correctly states the case and supports what you are saying. Cannabis by itself doesn’t enhance musical performances, it might however enhance the listener’s experience of them. The listener is just sitting there, not trying to engage in a complex skill or physical procedure.

    With that said, I do think that cannabis does enhance some skills for example I know many incredible software engineers that are huge smokers. Now would they be better programmers if they didn’t smoke? Possibly, but possibly also they wouldn’t want to do it! And BTW there is no evidence in my experience as a software manager that smokers create more bugs or errors in their code. Quite the opposite actually; the best coders were the biggest stoners. IME.

    Finally, as far as “no longer being human”, it would be my view that this has already happened. We’re all transhumans now unless you live in the remote Amazonian jungle or somewhere similarly remote, there really is no such thing as an unenhanced “human” at all. For example, almost everyone on Earth today is enhanced through vaccination, medical care, and digital media technologies.Even the poorest humans are no longer strictly or merely “human”. It is also important to point out that the term isn’t really well defined in the first place.

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