Avatar-based compassion training

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Virtual reality helps people to comfort and accept themselves

Self-compassion can be learned using avatars in an immersive virtual reality, finds new research led by UCL. This innovative approach reduced self-criticism and increased self-compassion and feelings of contentment in naturally self-critical individuals. The scientists behind the MRC-funded study say it could be applied to treat a range of clinical conditions including depression. The team of psychologists and computer scientists from UCL, University of Barcelona and University of Derby designed a method to improve people’s compassion to themselves, by creating a unique self-to-self situation using avatars and computer gaming technology. Virtual reality has previously been used to treat psychological disorders including phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder but this research focused on a new application for promoting emotional well-being. ….[READ]

Is AI dangerous?

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Summit Europe: Artificial Intelligence Evolving From Disappointing to Disruptive

Neil Jacobstein, Singularity University’s co-chair in AI and Robotics, has been thinking about artificial intelligence for a long time, and at a recent talk at Summit Europe, he wanted to get a few things straight. There’s AI, and then there’s AI. Elon Musk recently tweeted this about Nick Bostrom’s book, Superintelligence: “We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.” AI has long been a slippery term, its definition in near-constant flux. Ray Kurzweil has said AI is used to describe human capabilities just out of reach for computers—but when they master these skills, like playing chess, we no longer call it AI. These days we use the term to describe machine learning algorithms, computer programs that autonomously learn by interacting with large sets of data. But we also use it to describe the theoretical superintelligent computers of the future. ….[READ]

Immersive sex

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The Big Future: What is the future of sex?

Sex is central to human life and has been from the very start, but the act and its aftermath aren’t exactly perfect. Despite the technological advancements that have taken place over the course of the last century, people who don’t want STIs or children still have to jump through a number of hoops to get to the good stuff. So in this week’s Big Future, we look at how those hoops might one day improve — or disappear altogether. Battling STIs means making sexual barriers more fun. Antibiotic resistant STIs are likely to become an even bigger problem in the future, which means that we’re going to have to find ways to make sexual barriers more fun to use. ….[READ]

Is there no market for Google Glass?

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Whatever happened to Google Glass? It’s now selling on eBay for as little as half the list price

After two years of popping up at high-profile events sporting Google Glass, the gadget that transforms eyeglasses into spy-movie worthy technology, Google co-founder Sergey Brin sauntered bare-faced into a Silicon Valley red-carpet event on Sunday. He’d left his pair in the car, Brin told a reporter. The Googler, who heads up the top-secret lab which developed Glass, has hardly given up on the product — he recently wore his pair to the beach. But Brin’s timing is not propitious, coming as many developers and early Glass users are losing interest in the much-hyped, $1,500 test version of the product: a camera, processor and stamp-sized computer screen mounted to the edge of eyeglass frames. Google Inc itself has pushed back the Glass roll out to the mass market. ….[READ]

When will virtual reality become mainstream?

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How tech giants from Facebook Inc to Samsung Electronics Co are trying to win the virtual reality game

From visiting a beach in Hawaii while never leaving New York, test driving a luxury car before it’s on the road or battling dragons in an alternate world, virtual reality can now create immersive experiences which were once lofty promises. And spurned by innovations that have made it easier to offer virtual reality to consumers, companies such as Facebook Inc., Google Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. are all clamouring to make their own mark in this space. The flurry of activity in this space has been driven by technological advances, such as cheaper and smaller motion sensors and the ubiquitous and powerful smartphone, which can be dropped into a headset to easily become a virtual-reality screen, says James McQuivey, a media analyst with Forrester Research. ….[READ]

The illusion of staying in a virtual sphere

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How to live for a month in virtual reality

Next year, artist Mark Farid wants to give up a month of his life to virtual reality. If a crowdfunding campaign succeeds, he’ll spend 28 days in a gallery, wearing a VR headset and a pair of noise-canceling headphones. For the duration of the show, all he’ll experience will be video and audio captured by a complete stranger, going about their daily life. When they eat, he’ll eat. When they sleep, he’ll sleep. As much as modern technology permits, he will let his individual identity evaporate. This isn’t escapism. He’s not trying to live as a famous actor, or a star athlete, or someone from a vastly different culture or time period. Spending minutes in virtual reality can be uncomfortable, let alone days. …..[READ]

Virtual Reality Through the Years

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Virtual Reality Fails Its Way to Success

Of all the praise heaped upon Oculus, the virtual-reality company that Facebook acquired for $2 billion earlier this year, perhaps the most significant has been this: non-nauseating. I can testify to that after my visit last month to the groovy downtown Manhattan offices of Relevent, a marketing agency that has created a virtual-reality demo for HBO to help promote its hit series “Game of Thrones.” Without much small talk, Ian Cleary, Relevent’s vice president of “innovation and ideation,” escorted me into a steampunk cage the size of a phone booth, made of iron and wood. He fitted me with headphones and the Oculus Rift, as the company’s flagship product is called, a blocky set of black maxigoggles with an internal screen positioned inches from the eyes. ….[READ]