Beaming: James Cameron may have been onto something with “Avatar”

A family dressed as the avatars

Photo Source: Federico Campoli (CC BY-NC-SA)

Last week we saw the parallels between ourselves and superheroes as seen in “the Avengers.” However, it appears as though we may soon have more in common with Academy Award winning “Avatar” instead.

According to BBC News, the European Commission is funding a project to

“investigate how a person can visit a remote location via the internet and feel fully immersed in the new environment…[where] the visitor may be embodied as an avatar or a robot, interacting with real people.”

At this year’s Coachella, an extremely realistic hologram of the deceased Tupac came back to join Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre in a mind-blowing performance that few words can explain. Soon after, jokes were made about Coachella 2013’s “all-ghost” lineup. But with also deceased Freddie Mercury set to make a similar virtual appearance in London next Monday, it seems as if this I’m-here-but-not-really-here technology is indeed here—and here to stay.

The article describes how teleconferencing, overseas relationships, education, and the medical field would be transformed by this advancement in augmented reality that has already successfully “beamed” people from Barcelona to London. However, it also raises concerns about the heightened risk of deception and crime, especially in the areas of sexual harassment and identity theft. Just like how you will be able to craft your avatar’s appearance however way you please, (OMG gurl, blue skin really brings out your eyes!) there will be virtually (pun unintended) nothing you can do from stopping a hacker with all your personal information from generating and posing as you in avatar form.

So do the pros of this promising new technology outweigh the cons? Or vice versa? You tell us.

Will it allow us to better align our true selves to our online alter egos? Or will we instead be compromising our information and our privacy? Will it allow us to connect better with our world and our community? Or rather will we be, as in Sherry Turkle’s Ted talk, more “connected, but alone?”

We want to know what you think. In the meantime, for prepatory purposes, I’ll be painting myself blue.

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