forum musings (reply to Captn)

>Capitalism aggregates the wealth of billions of people into the hands of a relatively few entities which focus that wealth on achieving the next incremental advance in technology. This wealth tends to go to those entities which have demonstrated an ability to successfully achieve results, and it all happens VOLUNTARILY! <
This is a textbook example of how capitalism should work in theory, and one popularised by advocates of globalism. It is such a fine method of organising labour, it was also how Soviet communism was portrayed in State propaganda. After all, what did those old movies show? Happy workers out in the farms and in the factories, busily churning out useful products that would make a positive difference to the lives of the populace.
Of course, we now know the truth: That looming over this productivity was a top-heavy bureaucratic monster full of political cronyism and redundant paper-pushers, diverting wealth from the real economy and contributing nothing to it, indeed actually impeding it- the Politburo.
Unfortunately, we can now say much the same of modern global markets. Here too we see the real economy of goods and services being squeezed by a nonproductive entity. In this case, it is the banking and financial system (and the political system as well, of course), which has increasingly moved away from getting involved in anything that fits the romantic view of capitalism extolled by Captn and towards methods of simply moving money around, not producing anything of use to most people’s lives.
According to ‘Cancer Stage of Capitalism’, “The mutation in money investment and profit occurs when money capital is no longer a phase within the circuit of the production or distribution of goods or services, but is exclusively committed at every stage of its growth only to the multiplication of itself. Instead of any productive or distributive function in the metabolism of money through the medium of use-value to more money (M → C → M1), there is only the metabolism of money to more money without any conversion to use-value in the circuit (M→M1 →M2 →Mn).
For purposes of clarification and simplification, we will henceforth refer to this value sequence as: $→$1 →$n
“The defining principle of this investment mutation is that it is no longer bounded by any national base or interest or regulation, or by any other direct or indirect requirement to commit itself to any productive function beyond itself. It demands only to acquire maximally more money for money loaned or invested with no conversion into sustenance or service for any human, social or environmental life- organization in between…
New modes of mutating the metabolisms of exchange for use-value to the autonomous proliferation of money-demand are many and aberrant in form: turning bankrupt governments into social debt-collectors enforcing money lenders’ terms on progressively poorer public sectors; demanding ever more unconditional tax-breaks for foreign investment and debt over equity; massive diversion of bank credit to non-productive speculations instead of job-creating enterprises; globe-roaming attacks on national currencies by speculative buying and selling in multi-billion-dollar-profit accumulations which create no use-value and which cripple social and economic orders overnight; disaggregation of productive enterprises into broker-and- lawyer-dismantled assets-for-sale by leveraged buy-outs which pay for themselves by unproductive appropriation of the liquid capital of the bought firms; government deregulation of high-interest savings-and- loan banks so that their principals can expropriate up to $500 billion from taxpayers to pay for their speculative money-into-more-money diversions; reloading of the tax-obligations of banking and financial institutions and their investment customers onto the backs of productive members of society with less aggregate income to extract; rechannelling of citizens’ savings in major banks to continuous billion-dollar mergers and buy-outs with no productive gain; round-the-clock arbitrages and speculations on derivative market and currency values disconnected from any life or productive function; and steering of vast mutual and pension funds that now bear the privatized old-age security of the First World’s middle class into socially delinked money and stock speculation transactions”.
To say we volunteered for this nonproductive, parasitic monster is laughable. Of course we did not volunteer for it. Globalism may promote itself as being just what Adam Smith was thinking about when he wrote Wealth of Nations and imagined markets governed by an invisible hand turning rational self-interest into the common good. But in practice how the global market works is opposed to the free market in almost every way. The only ‘freedom’ it offers is the freedom of transnational corporations and banking cartels to act irresponsibly and have everybody else pay the price.
As I said before, the emergence of this nonproductive, wealth-taking monster was predictable from the basic logic of capitalism itself. Capitalism has two main motivations: To lower marginal costs as close to zero as possible, and to make as much profit for shareholders as possible. All else, (providing employment for people, building communities) is NOT the purpose of capitalism, though it will of course do these things if there is profit to be made or marginal costs to be lowered. It is inevitably the case that socialist economies will collapse, they are too-top heavy and centralised to be viable in the long-term. Once they collapse the populace is in a desperate situation. It is almost as if they are holding up a big banner saying ‘HELP US! GIVE US JOBS! WE WILL WORK 18 HOURS A DAY FOR TEN CENTS AN HOUR IF YOU COME!”. And, of course the capitalists here this cry. Workers in richer countries, requiring much higher wages to sustain their consumerist lifestyle, simply cannot compete against labour so cheap and arduous it is barely indistinguishable from slavery. And so the real economy of goods and services inevitably drains out of the country.
Of course, this is not all bad, for it is offering a step up for failed nations.
As for the developed nations, not only will their industries be moved abroad (or their workers replaced with cheaper, harder working immigrants) the endless pursuit of lower marginal costs and higher profits will seek out investments that use as little capital (in the form of materials and labour) as possible. This means they tend to move from C-£-C^n (in other words, making a commodity like a horse’s shoe or butchering a lamb, selling that commodity and making a profit, and investing the money earned to improve productivity, make more or better commodities and earn more profit and so on) to £-C-£^n (where the capitalist does hardly any of the actual work involved in the production of the commodity or the management of the staff, instead hiring employees to do all the work, possibly up to and including even the job of hiring itself), to the cancerous forms of money sequence £-£^2-£^n whereby money is moved around with no useful contribution invested at all, and all risk tranferred to the common people (socialism for the financial and political elite, capitalism for the rest).

Posted in forum thoughts, work jobs and all that | 2 Comments

Thoughts on what happened to capitalism.

(The following was a response to a comment posted on

Hiya James.

I have been trying to figure out how and why capitalism degenerated into the corrupt system now in place and I think I have identified a couple of causal factors.
Firstly, capitalism is driven to turning everything into a commodity to be sold for profit. For example, when genomes were being sequenced and cloned sheep created there was much controversy over whether the very recipe of life itself should be considered property of private companies or whether it was something that should not be possible to patent.
More to the point, the free market needs some minimal government in place to enforce private property rights. But remember: Capitalism seeks to turn everything into a commodity to be sold for competitive advantage. This means the State becomes, in time, just another commodity to be sold to whoever or more accurately, whatever has the most money to purchase it.
Secondly, capitalism tends to look for commodities that are cheap. The less capital you spend in setting up a wealth-making scheme, and the more wealth that scheme has a chance of making, the better. Therefore, there was always a built-in tendency for capitalism to move away from physical products that need actual resources and physical labour for their production, and towards those kinds of ‘middle-man’ services that play advisory and other supporting roles. Crucial, yes, but arguably less so than physical work that produces actual commodities we need to survive and raise standards of living. Thus industry shrunk and was moved around to wherever the commodity of labour could be hired for the cheapest price and exploited as ruthlessly as possible, while the service sector grew and grew. Also, combine the tendency to turn State power into a commodity to be bought for competitive advantage, and the tendency to seek out commodities that use as little capital (in the form of physical resources) as possible, and you get a system that will favour political entrepreneurship over market entrepreneurship. In other words, a system that favours those who rig the game for unfair monopolistic advantage over those who favour genuine market competition. The financial sector are masters of this game, thus it is in this ‘industry’ that we find the most successful parasites, taking wealth others created and giving it to those who contributed nothing to the real economy.
Another thing that aided this wealth redistribution from genuine contributors to mere gamblers is that we tend to stick to outdated language. For example, nobody ever drives a car. Cars are machines, we operate them. Only animals can be driven. The phrase ‘to drive a car’ is a leftover from the time when a ‘car’ was a ‘carriage’ pulled by a horse.
What has this got to do with anything? Well, just think of the phrases commonly associated with banking. They are firms that ‘loan us money’, that offer safe havens to ‘deposit our money’ and later ‘withdraw’ it. None of these phrases properly describe what modern banks do. Usually, in order to loan somebody something you must first have it. I cannot loan you my Ferrari because I am not in possession of one. But banks can ‘loan’ money that they do not have, just by creating it out of thin air! And what about those phrases ‘deposit’ and ‘withdraw’? They make it sound like banks function as piggy banks do- somewhere to keep your money safe and to save your pennies so that they turn into pounds. But, actually, as soon as you hand over your money to the bank it becomes the legal property of that bank. It is no longer yours, strictly speaking. All you have is a guarantee from the bank and ultimately the government that you will be paid an equivalent sum on demand. As Edward G. Griffin pointed out, at the end of the day this promise comes in the form of ‘the State will repay you even if it has to take all your wealth in the form of taxes to do so’.
This obsolete language used in banking terminology comes from an earlier time when bank notes were just receipts issued for gold or some other valuable commodity deposited in vaults for safekeeping. It is not uncommon for us to stick to outdated phrases but in the case of the financial sector I feel this is used to disguise some pretty illegitimate market activity. Look at the terminology used by the financial sector. It is the financial ‘industry’, selling ‘products’ on the stock ‘market’. It all sounds like traditional market activity when what it really is, is a great big casino gambling with wealth others have created and protected from bad bets by that very political entrepreneurship scheming I mentioned earlier. It really pisses me off when politicians go on and on about the need to ‘grow the economy’ when the real economy of goods and services are increasingly being squeezed by parasites who expect massive rewards for their reckless speculation and to dump the consequences of their misbehaviour on everybody else. There was a time when growth in the economy would trickle down to those at the bottom and raise standards of living. That time is now largely over because we in our ignorance have let the free market be taken over by non-contributing forces driven not to make wealth but rather take it from those who do contribute to the real economy.
And., no this is not just the fault of the financial sector and not just the fault of government. It is a systemic issue that is more complex than that.

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June 23rd 2015 saw the release of the videogame Batman Arkham Knight. The third in a series of videogames by the company Rocksteady, its pedigree seemed to all but ensure it would be one of the best games of the year. A few months later, a game I had never heard of called Go Home was made freely available to PlayStation4 owners who had a PlayStationplus subscription. 
My hopes for Arkham Knight were high. I had thoroughly enjoyed the second installment of the series (Batman: Arkham City) and videoclips of Arkham Knight suggested a bigger, more polished experience. As for Go Home I had no idea if I would like it or not but as it was free I decided to at least give it a try. Surprise, surprise, it turned out to be the better game.
Batman: Arkham Knight betrays a gameplay attitude that hearkens back to the early days of videogaming. Before there were games consoles and home computers, a videogame’s natural home was the arcade. Today we are used to games that showboat with film-like musical scores, cutscenes of CG-movie quality and as much particle effects as the latest graphics cards can handle, but the miniscule power of 70s computer hardware meant that games designers had no choice but to strip the game down to one simple idea. Furthermore, since the game was designed to be played on a coin-operated arcade machine, there was a tendency to come up with a very difficult but compulsive challenge. These were not games designed to be completed, they were games that were meant to continue for as long as your skills matched the increasing difficulty or your pockets remained lined with coins for buying more ‘lives’.
These days games often tell a story and, as such, are meant to be completed. But that old-school view of making the game overly-difficult is still very much evident, as Arkham Knight made all too clear.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind a tough challenge. But there are times when I would rather be engaged in other ways. Immersed in a game’s environment, say, or playing because the story is so good and I want to follow it to its conclusion. In the case of Arkham Knight, its environment is astoundingly atmospheric, and the characters are brilliantly realised. I was more interested in the story and just having fun being the Dark Knight than having my gamer’s skills tested to the limit, so I decided to play on the easiest difficulty setting.
But, it wasn’t easy at all. You know a game is too hard when your fingers are cramping up from intensive button jabbing and the screen is still full of an absolute barrage of enemy assaults. Now, call me crazy, but to me ‘easy’ equates to something that is not difficult at all. It suggests a challenge that is a walk-in-the-park, a breeze, a piece of cake. It does not signify a rage-inducing challenge where your ass is being kicked from here to next week and you are seriously considering quitting the stupid game and playing something more relaxing.
Talking of which, Grow Home. In Arkham Knight you are Batman; in Grow Home you are B.O.B. B.O.B is ejected from his spaceship along with some pods with what looks like an emergency vehicle’s flashing light, and his mission is…well I did not know what the overall point was because I had got this game on a complete whim. Turns out that the main objective is to climb up the stem and branches of a massive plant called a Star Plant. It is but a sapling when you start, and whenever B.O.B manages to clamber up and crawl to the end of a branch, you can cause that branch to grow, holding on for dear life as you try and steer the growing limb toward floating rocks in the sky (if you have seen the movie Avatar, picture its floating mountains). As you connect the tips of branches to certain rocks, this causes the main stem to grow taller, enabling access to islands in the sky and, eventually, your own spaceship parked way, way up at the edge of space. Hence: Grow Home.
Grow Home uses a very different method of animation compared to Arkham Knight. That game relies on pre-canned animations triggered by button combinations. Grow Home, on the other hand, uses procedural animation, which basically means B.O.B’s movements are calculated on the fly, based on the environment he is interacting with. So whereas Arkham Knight requires you to execute a great number of button combinations, Grow Home relies on just the shoulder buttons to move his arms, the left thumbstick to make him walk, X to make him jump and triangle to activate or deactivate his parachute or hanglider (which, in keeping with the game’s botanic theme, are a giant dandelion seed and a leaf). 
The use of procedural animation means that B.O.B is able to climb up absolutely any surface in the game. Unlike most games these days, Grow Home has no difficulty settings. Rather, the game lets you use your own common sense in seeking out a challenge that suits your ambitions. If you want an easy time of it, seek a simple route up the plant. If you want a challenge, why not attempt death-defying leaps from one branch to another, in between climbing precariously up the twisting stem and the imposing rockfaces of the floating islands?
I met with failure multiple times playing both Grow Home and Arkham Knight, and they both taught important lessons about failure in videogames. Turns out it is never frustrating when you can clearly see you made an error. I often mistimed my leap or lost my grip while making my climb in Grow Home, but I never felt like it was not my fault. On the other hand, there were times in Arkham Knight where I knew exactly what needed to be done, but the game controls would not let me do it. For example, while playing as Harley Quinn I wanted to quickly climb into a space in the floor in order to avoid approaching enemies. But, no, Harley insisted on executing flashy cartwheels instead, at least until a thug introduced his fist to her face. 
See, this is what happens when you have multi-button combinations. You have to press those buttons in exactly the right way or else the game interprets your intention to jump into a hiding place as a desire to perform acrobatics. The need to do things in exactly the right way was once a bane of videogames. I expect most fans of Tomb Raider can recall the frustration of wanting Lara to operate a switch which was within easy reach, only to have her refuse to do so because she was not in the exact position the game demanded. Fortunately, these problems have been largely ironed out and you really don’t expect a triple-A videogame to have controls which leave you feeling like your character is a stubborn little so-and-so that will not do as it’s told. But there were times when Arkham Knight was like that.
Another thing that helps you carry on in the face of repeated failure is encouragement. This can be positive encouragement. Grow Home adopts this approach, in the form of ‘M.O.M’, who is never seen but urges B.O.B on with motherly encouragement whenever he falls too far and smashes to bits. Or, it can be negative encouragement in the form of taunts at your incompetence. This is the approach Arkham Knight takes. “I expected better from you, Batman. You disappoint me!”. Yeah, well, should have given me controls that allow me to make Batman do what he is supposed to do, shouldn’t you?
Like I said, I played Grow Home without knowing a thing about it. This included its star, B.O.B. What was his overall mission? What abilities did he have? I did not know. For me, the entire game was a process of discovery. Under my control, B.O.B was a baby discovering how to control his limbs. The procedural animation would sometimes cause B.O.B’s body to contort into comedic positions, further emphasising this impression I had of B.OB as not quite in control of himself. Accomplishment of little tasks seemed like big achievements. ‘Aha, if I move my limbs like THIS, I can reach the top of this small cliff’. Bit by bit, B.O.B and I figured out what our robotic body could do, what purpose items around us could be put to, and our confidence in our abilities grew. By the time the plant had been grown tall enough to reach the spaceship parked high in orbit, B.O.B was trusting himself to make suicidal jumps from one limb to another, controlling his glide and hitting his target with pinpoint accuracy.
As for Batman, I knew all about him. Everybody knows who Batman is. Batman is supercool. Batman does not find things difficult. Batman has a mind that is more than a match for the most devious puzzles set by The Riddler. Batman has fighting skills that outclass any adversary. Batman is not the kind of guy who attempts to drive his batmobile off a ramp and land on the roof of the adjacent building, only to mess it up and fall upside down among the garbage cans. Well, certainly the Batman of the comics, the cartoons and the films would never make such a stupid mistake. But the Batman of Arkham Knight frequently did.
I sometimes think that the people you would think would be best suited to videogames are actually not that suited at all. James Bond should make for a brilliant videogame character, right? I mean, he shoots guns, he has knows how to handle himself in a fist-fight. His driving skills are top-notch. His day job involves travelling to exotic locations and dishing out instant justice to any bad guys that he encounters. He is like a male version of Lara Croft.
So, you would think videogames based on James Bond would be a surefire hit. But while many would rate ‘Goldeneye’ on the Nintendo64 as one of the best games ever made, I think it is fair to say that most Bond games have been something of a disappointment. And, if you stop and think about it, some conventions of the James Bond franchise do not fit well with videogame convention at all. For example, traditionally the opening sequence of a Bond film is an action set-piece involving extraordinary stuntwork. It is usually among the most exciting moments in a film jam-packed with implausible action. But a videogame’s introductory level is typically a training level which gently guides the player through the basics. “Press directional up to aim gun, Bond!’. Bond knows how to use his gun. Such basic instructions are not something a man of action such as he should need to be told. But the gameplayer might.
When you base a videogame around a familiar character the number one priority is that you should feel like that character when playing the game. To be fair, Arkham Knight does offer plenty of moments where you really feel like Batman. Silently gliding through the rain-soaked skies of Arkham City’s permanent night, using high-tech equipment to solve crimes, taking on groups of thugs and saving a hostage with a flurry of unarmed combat. Yes, this is what being the Caped Crusader is like. But then it all goes wrong. If Scarecrow knows Batman’s mind so well, why did he have driverless tanks patrolling Arkham City? Had he put human drivers in such tanks, Batman’s moral code (which forbids killing anyone) would have ruled out blowing up them up, and he could not have saved the day (or, rather, the night). Why am I spending so much time using the batmobile like a tank and blowing things up, anyway? This is not what Batman does. I am feeling frustrated stuck on this difficult part of the game. Batman should not find anything too difficult.
Arkham Knight had all the shine and sparkle one expects of a triple-A modern videogame. It looks great, it sounds great. The acting in the game is top-notch (especially Mark Hamil’s Joker). Videogame mechanics are put to great use in telling a story in a way no other media can emulate. There was enough entertainment to ensure I struggled on to the end of the main objective, despite those frequent difficulty spikes and failing because the game controls would not let me do what needed to be done when I needed to do it (damn you, Harley, get in that grate!). But for all it has going for it (and it has a lot going for it) Arkham Knight felt like an old game in next-gen games clothes. I felt like I was playing an arcade game of the seventies, fingers cramping up from intensive button mashing in order to make it past some near insurmountable challenge, and being taunted whenever my skills were not up to the test set by the game’s designers.
Grow Home has nowhere near as much polish as Arkham Knight but it felt more modern in its more relaxed attitude to gameplay. There was no ‘game over’, no races against the clock, no boss fights. B.O.B frequently fell and broke into a million pieces, but a new B.O.B was always ready to try again. This was an environment to play in, first and foremost. Its motivation came in the form of the joy of discovery, the pleasure of being able to do things one would not dare do in real life. B.O.B often seemed so small, clinging on as the plant twisted and climbed to dizzying heights. It was awe-inspiring despite the overly cartoony graphics. It was a game that wanted the player to have fun, not one which wanted to kick the player’s ass and make them feel angry. 
It was free and it was fun. More fun than Arkham Knight. 

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In the last week, a hundred million people devoted themselves to work of all kinds. Some of it was menial and repetitive; some of it required sophisticated analysis and team building. There were people buying and selling, people inventing, and people organizing, categorizing and diagnosing. Not too surprising, given that people have always worked. But the hundred million folks devoting their time to all this productivity were not being paid. They gave their time freely, and in many cases actually paid for the opportunity to do this work. They probably did not think of themselves as employees doing a job. You see, these were players interacting with videogames.
Somehow, videogame companies have pulled off an astounding trick. They have found a way to get us to work for no wages. It really is not at all uncommon to find people utterly absorbed in an activity in a game which, were it transposed to a work environment, they would surely walk away from if asked to do that job for no wages (and as for paying the boss good money to be allowed to do it, well!). For example, imagine there was a job at a sweet factory that entailed standing at a conveyer belt and sorting sweets, ones in a red wrapper into one box, those in blue wrappers in another box. Would you do that job for no pay? Yet that task is surely no less dull and repetitive than many of the things Minecraft has us do. Think of the endless digging through block after block, or the action of hitting an enemy with a sword over and over again.
Videogame companies have found a way to make dull work so compelling, people will pay to be allowed to do it. They have had to do this, of course, because they are in the business of selling a product that requires interaction. Whenever you play a videogame you are required to do something, and if the game designers did not ensure that activity was fun and engaging, nobody would buy their product. In the workplace, though, there is no need to ensure employees are having fun. People earn wages to live, and that provides motivation enough to persuade folks to stack shelves, wait tables, manage stores and so on. When it comes to what is expected of an employee, things like ‘working efficiently’ and ‘working hard’ no doubt rank highly among many a boss. But ‘having fun’? I suspect a lot of companies would consider play and fun and games to be counterproductive in the workplace.
Traditionally, we have tended to adopt a protestant ethic in our attitudes to our jobs, probably because of its influence on industrial-age views of time and work. Of all employees, it is those who ‘work hard’ who are most highly praised, even though it was those who worked smart and used knowledge and technology to reduce the amount of physical and mental work required of us, that did most to raise standards of living. But if we continue to place a high emphasis on rewarding hard work, while continuing to dismiss play and games as mere frivolity, we could well be in trouble, for in the future we will be in competition with a rival workforce that would far outperform us in terms of the amount of work they can handle, and how efficiently they do their jobs.
Anyone who follows tech news is bound to have come across articles discussing robots and AI, and the impact they are likely to have on employment in the years to come. A combination of cheaper, more capable sensors, greater computing capacity and more sophisticated algorithms is beginning to result in machines that can be relied on to do jobs that once required people.
Generally speaking, we can sort ‘work’ into three categories. It is either ‘transformative’, ‘transactional’ or ‘tacit’. Transformative work entails converting raw materials into a product of some kind: Vegetables and rabbit into a meal, metal, plastic and rubber into a car. It is obvious how machines can help productivity in transformative work, because we have all seen how useful mechanization can be in this area. Transactional work entails people interacting with people in fairly routine ways, following rules. Once those rules can be converted into algorithms that can be executed by computers, machines can interact with other people or other machines and do such work as well.
As computers become more and more powerful and capable of running larger and more complex sets of algorithms, we are likely to see more and more kinds of transactional work becoming automated. We are also likely to see more jobs disappearing in ‘transformative’ work, although some of that requires hand-eye coordination as yet unmatched by any robot, so I expect some tasks will still require people for some time to come. But the point is that robots are coming and people really cannot compete with such machines when it comes to working hard and efficiently. 
So that leaves tacit work, which is defined as tasks that are ambiguous and require experiential knowledge. Since they are not at all easy to codify into a set of rules, jobs that entail doing tacit work will be among the last to become automated. A robot that can do tacit work would need general intelligence, creativity, and common sense, and these have proven to be exceedingly difficult to program.
While you can command the things you want from transformative or transactional workers, such authoritarian tactics fail in the area of tacit knowledge. The only way to encourage effective work in this area is to create conditions that ensure tacit knowledge workers want to provide innovation, collaboration, and insight. In order to achieve this we will have to reconsider our assumptions about play.
When you look past play in terms of frivolity it becomes clear how important it really is. Perhaps the strongest evidence of its value comes from the observation of play throughout the animal kingdom. Lion cubs indulge in play fighting, dogs love to chase after thrown sticks, and dolphins seem to get a kick out of riding ships’ bow waves. In the case of the lion cubs, the value of their play is obvious: it is useful practice that evolved to help them develop the skills they will come to rely on as adults. When we play we are often mimicking, and that can be a useful aid in learning motor skills, and engaging in social relationships. 
The importance of play in childhood is not in doubt, but traditionally its value for adults has been largely dismissed. If somebody was asked to name the opposite of ‘work’ it’s a fair bet they would choose ‘play’. According to the old-school view, play is something irrelevant to serious work, and therefore a distraction that has no place in the world of business. The world of work is one where efficiency is everything, and if play is a waste of time for adults, by having too much fun it must follow that the business process must be negatively affected.
That was how play used to be appreciated in the adult world, but there is another perspective that defines play as ‘delight in serious work’, and recognises its importance in producing focused concentration, competitive behaviour, and community identity.
When it comes to focused concentration, one name stands out: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He was the psychologist that coined the term ‘flow’ to describe a state of being that occurs when one voluntarily tries to accomplish a difficult task for which one has the right skills. ‘Flow’ refers to a high level of engagement with a task, one where the mind is totally focused on the activity, excluding all else. The state of flow is more likely to be induced when experiences stretch abilities and when novelty and discovery are involved. ‘Flow’ is a good way of understanding how enjoyment is a precursor to involvement at work, as well as how games create motivation.
Being engaged and emotionally evolved in what one is doing has obvious benefits for work. It has a positive influence on productivity, can facilitate creativity and increase the likelihood of cooperation among people. Play is an important component of attention and involvement. Whether we are talking about play or work, feeling and thinking are closely related. Attention is increased when the brain’s emotional and memory systems communicate, and game play is most effective as a learning aid when it has features that activate emotional response in the form of arousal. Excitement enhances both performance and learning, and therefore one might expect traditional school classrooms, corporate training settings and other formal environments to be less ideal places to learn than informal environments such as playgrounds, living rooms, and videogames. Indeed, new studies do tilt an advantage toward such informal settings.
The author of ‘Homo Ludens’, Johan Huizinga, said that whenever people engage in a contest of skill, challenging oneself in comparison with others, such behaviour can be defined either as work or play. Huizinga has suggested that there is essentially no difference between playful contests and politics, law, art, and other activities that shape the essence of culture. Others, though, argue that there is more to play than power and that related concepts like potency or competency are more appropriate. Whatever the case, most people believe work to be some kind of contest, one in which players compete for such rewards as a higher salary or a more plush office.
The view of games as competitive power play should be balanced with the cooperative behaviour that is intrinsic to teamwork. Play can just as legitimately be thought of in terms of community identity. According to anthropological studies into group identity, engaging in play helps increase a feeling of belonging. Games are a way to confirm membership in a group and communicate that membership to others. Since play helps build effective teams, its use for business collaboration and innovation becomes clear. As Blascovich and Bailenson wrote:
“Games at work can create community identity…celebrating those within a group, and offering opportunities for confirmation and repair within the community”.
Play, then, is not just some trivial activity. It is what allows work to transcend a sense of time and place. It is organized, purposeful and influential, helps produce focused concentration, healthy competition and team cohesion. But because studies about work and play have traditionally been considered separately, there has been scant attempt to really unify the two. The arrival of powerful computers and the Internet helped blur the distinction between work and home. As VR has the scope to further blend such boundaries we should take the opportunity to bring work and play together. A good way to do that would be to study how videogames achieve the remarkable trick of making dull work so entertaining people pay to be allowed to do it.

A good place to begin would be to look more closely at features of ‘flow’ that contribute to a sense of enjoyment. It turns out that videogames are particularly suitable for generating such features. One thing that is required to induce ‘flow’ is exclusion of distractions. Even without fully immersing the player in virtual worlds like VR promises to one day do, videogames can use graphics and audio to pull gamers into the experience. Another feature of flow is that there are clear goals at every step. This is, of course, a mainstay of games. Not only should the goals be clear, there should also be immediate feedback. Whether it’s successful or not, each small step should provide information that keeps attention centered on corrective action. Videogame design achieves this with various cues that inform the player when a course of action is worth continuing and when it is better to try something else.
Merger of action and awareness, a tight coupling of thinking and behaviour, is another core feature of flow. A well-designed gaming interface can deliver this feature. Properly designed, the action of using a tool becomes so intuitive users see ‘through’ it and focus instead on the task in hand. The physical task may entail some repetitive action like repeatedly pressing buttons, but in the gamer’s mind he or she is trying to outrun a pack of velociraptors.
Perhaps the most important feature of enjoyment in flow is the balance between challenge and skill. Achieving this requires the creation of just enough uncertainty about accomplishment for attention to be required, but not so much that the state of flow is interrupted. ‘Flow’ is found in those experiences that are on the boundary of what is possible given your current abilities. Videogames have long used difficulty settings that let players determine how hard a challenge will be. As sensors and computers get better at capturing and understanding psychological cues and biometric data, videogames will evolve to have adaptive difficulty settings, dynamically lowering or raising the bar to maintain that perfect balance between challenge and skill.
Looking back over these features, we can see that many of them share something in common. In one way or another, they are all about feedback and reward. Oftentimes, when a job fails to engage it is due to some deficiency in the feedback/ reward system. Sometimes work is too easy. Where MMOGs are concerned, easy work can be embedded into quests and storylines that are part of a larger narrative within a multilevel game. If the convergence of gaming and work through VR allows similar tricks to work in business, workers would be more engaged, which would lead to more enthusiasm for the job, and higher productivity. Work can also be too hard, maybe because the learning curve is too steep, or because evaluating and celebrating each intermediate step is not easy enough. As we learn to ‘gamify’ jobs, the techniques of good game design could become useful guides for fixing poor work design.
Csikszentmihalyi wrote about some of the elements that interfere with job satisfaction in ‘Good Business’. Enthusiasm for one’s work suffers when there is uncertainty with respect to individual goals, when there is a mismatch between skills and challenges and when people lack sufficient control over their work. Strategies for resolving some of these issues include using machines to do the mechanical and transactional parts of a job out of the way, but if we are interested in making work engaging enough to induce flow, care will have to be taken to ensure that extracting inefficiencies from work will not result in jobs that are even more boring or tedious. Games can clearly help here, as they embed a lot of experience in providing satisfying levels of complexity and aspiration over timescales of seconds, minutes, hours, and maybe even months and years in the case of MMORPGs and online worlds.
One thing many business share in common with games would be reward incentives that indicate important differences and reputations. In videogames these can include ways of customising one’s avatar with better and fancier armour, say, or accessories that signal to other players that you have accomplished such and such or are adept at so and so. Businesses too sometimes use various insignia to signal reputation, such as pins and plaques or differing office sizes. But rewards in business differ from games in terms of their often being markers that are unreliable and imprecisely linked to information about expertise, project successes and other aspects of reputation. Also, in business, such insignia are awarded maybe years after whatever accomplishments might have merited their reward. In videogames, such rewards are awarded in realtime, and have shared definitions that make it easy for fellow players to put together teams with the right set of complementary skills.
It is also easier to trust reputational markers in videogames because the skills required to merit them are objectively calculated by the computer, which is keeping track of everybody’s stats and displaying the results for all to see. Leadership in business tends to be predetermined by a resume of past accomplishments, and office politics can influence who climbs up the hierarchy. It is hard to think of any system that automatically produces as much relevant, valid and transparent data as an MMOG does. An argument could be made that videogames are a rare example of environments where promises of a meritocracy are truly kept.
There is, however, one way to cheat the system, and that is to buy a character that has already been levelled up. In countries like South Korea, sweatshop labourers no longer sit at sewing machines, manufacturing cheap clothes. They sit at computers, grinding through levels and improving the stats of avatars that are bought by people who prefer not to do such work.
It’s not necessarily the case, then, that an avatar who displays insignia broadcasting certain skills and accomplishments belongs to a person who has such abilities. However, this form of cheating is corrected by the relaxed view of risk and the related accelerated pace in games. In business, leaders often only execute a course of action after carefully debating opinions. For gamers, failure is a learning aid for strategizing about the next attempt rather than a career killer. Failure is an expected feature of play, at least on occasion, and games make it easier to get past mistakes because the player never has to wait long to retry or attempt an alternative approach.
In games, then, trial and error, weighing odds under uncertainty under often chaotic conditions, is the norm. This trial and error and relaxed view of risk extends to leadership and other team roles. The quick and organized pace of play changes leadership from an identity to a task, because gamers see no permanence in any role: Unlike in real life, where leaders are often identified and trained for roles that may last for years, leaders in games are chosen or volunteer in minutes and the relaxed view of risk means it’s easier to have people step up and prove they are as good as their avatar would have others believe. Bryon Reeves and J. Leighton Read wrote in ‘Total Engagement’:
“There’s an expectation in games that someone will step up to offer temporary leadership if things go awry. What if work groups were more dynamic, allowing for continual changes as a group developed, including the opportunity for self-nomination?”. 
So, videogames have developed review and reward mechanisms that make goals clear, reduce ambiguity, provide lots of opportunity to advance and encourage an attitude that plans will often fail but what is more important is to try, register the feedback, and try again with a modified course of action. But most videogames- certainly MMORPGs- have more than just good trial and error mechanics to explain how they make dull work exciting. They also have well-crafted narratives.
Arguably, the human species could be described as a storytelling animal. Given their ancient relationship with us, we would expect stories to provide important psychological advantages. This is indeed the case. Stories aid us in thinking, in developing social expertise, and are an important part of emotional experience.
In the case of aiding us in thinking, people find it much easier to remember information that is presented in narrative format, rather than merely stacked one fact on another. A common method used by champion recollectors is to make up a story around whatever they are memorizing (the sequence of a stack of cards, say). Narratives are important in games because they aid memory, and that helps give gamers a greater sense of control over the information they are gathering. Narratives help guide action and are useful in organizing such things as character roles and group action. Narratives help players figure out what their relationship is to other players and how what they are currently doing fits into the larger picture.
Narratives also have a place in business. When business case studies are presented as stories, placed in the context of events sequenced with a beginning, middle and end, along with some tension over how things resolve, audiences become more engaged, placing themselves in the same negative space. This is one of the psychological responses to narrative at work. All good stories rely on uncertainty as a way of creating excitement and tension that both sustains and involvement and focuses the mind on resolution and release. The natural response people have to excitement is to attempt to reduce it, especially in the case of excitement whose source is conflict. This natural response to excitement is critical to the engagement of stories.
It’s already fairly common to use narratives in business planning and management, but this most often consists of a narrative to guide a single training session or somebody’s motivational pitch. The grander narratives built into MMORPGs hints at a more complex alignment of game and business narratives. A compelling sense of purpose is the most important ingredient frequently missing from management. If we look at MMORPGs, though, then in the words of Bryon Reeves and J. Leighton Read:
“Player time is structured along a vector of aspiration and accomplishment that is part of a larger narrative that ties the process together. There is much that modern enterprise can learn from this”.
Another thing to bare in mind is that game designs leave room for more complex evolving networks of player behaviour. Such networks could be useful in businesses looking for more connectedness between employees in large organizations that allow many degrees of freedom between a worker and actual customers.
We can now put together the component parts of the structure that enables games to encourage people to work for free, or even pay to be allowed to work. Games provide narratives that inspire purpose. They provide environments where every action is imbued with meaning as part of a valid goal, and they provide relevant and timely feedback that guides skills appropriately matched to important challenges. In short, as Bryon Reeves and J. Leighton Read put it, “games do a better job than sophisticated corporations of creating purposeful environments where action is imbued with meaning as part of a valid goal”.

We saw earlier how advances in automation are likely to wipe out jobs that involve transformational and transactional work, but that tacit work requires creative and social skills that are formidably hard to code into computers. The difficulty in designing machines to perform tacit work suggests it’s not something that can be commanded, and this is indeed the case. You can’t command the things you want from tacit knowledge workers, instead you have to create the conditions that encourage innovation, collaboration and insight. This is best achieved when people enter workplaces that allow serious interactions to parallel playful ones, and so we should expect the most successful businesses of the future to take advantage of computing and VR tech to redesign work to be more like a videogame. The truth of this becomes pretty obvious when you consider just how much time and devotion people freely give to videogaming. Businesses would consider employees as dedicated to their jobs an invaluable asset. In games we typically find extraordinary teamwork, complementary roles that require coordinated action, elaborate data analysis and strategy and, perhaps most important of all, decision-making and leadership behaviour that is quick to happen, has transparent consequences and is awarded in a way that gets closer to a true meritocracy than perhaps any other experience. VR will make it easier to mashup home, work, and playful environments, and the engagement that gamers regularly experience would lead to tremendous increases in productivity for businesses that successfully ‘gamify’ the workplace.
The drive to ‘gamify’ work will come from people who have experience with games and recognise that serious work and the acquisition of useful skills can indeed come from play. The more people videogames can appeal to, the more the knowledge of their potential to drive productivity will spread. So, probably the most important condition for bringing about this change is for the gamer demographic to become as wide as possible. 
There was a time when ‘inclusive’ was just about the last word anyone would use to describe videogaming. Once upon a time, games systems were considered by most to be very different to consumer electronics like the TV or stereo. It would be expected that the whole family would use those devices, but as for the games console that would appeal only to the young son. Videogames were once considered to be kid’s toys that girls and adults would not or should not find appealing in the slightest.
Nowadays games consoles like the PS4 are designed to sit alongside consumer electronics and marketed as such, rather than as just toys. Mobile gaming and innovations like the Wii controller are bringing gaming to a much greater audience than just little boys, or at least trying to. Most console manufacturers now advertise their products as hubs of social activity that can appeal to anyone. VR can help here, because it has potential to enable us to interact with computer-generated worlds in highly intuitive ways, worlds that could be highly social.
What helped this transformation is that the gamer generation matured. People of the past who grew up never knowing homes without a TV or radio became the people who were brought up in homes where videogames were ubiquitous. The kids who played on their Segas and Nintendos became adults who play on their Xboxes and smartphones. 
In the past, when videogames were considered to be nothing but toys for little boys, it would have been just unthinkable that you could secure a job on the basis of what accomplishments you had achieved during gameplay. No boss would employ somebody who said they deserved a job because they achieved a high-score on such and such game. And no prospective employee would think to put their game achievements along with their work history and educational background on their CV.
But once you can safely assume that your boss plays videogames and that it’s likely he or she recognises that real work and valuable skills are part and parcel of gameplay, it would make a lot more sense to cite appropriate game skills among the reasons why you are right for the job. Since this requires nothing but a change of attitudes (from videogames as mere distraction to videogames as training grounds for employable skills) it is likely to be the earliest changes along the way to merging play with work.
Do players really acquire useful, employable skills during gameplay? Yes. Today we have videogames that require players to perform work like identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events; estimating the quantifiable characteristics of products, events or information; judging the qualities of things, services or people; evaluating information to determine compliance with standards; making decisions and solving problems; developing objectives and strategies; scheduling work and activities and establishing and maintaining personal relationships. And that is just a small sample of all the technical, interpersonal and creative skills that people develop as they strive to meet the challenges laid down by modern games.
It’s quite likely that most players are not aware that they are engaged in work while at play, because the sheer fun of what they are doing makes it seem far removed from work as it has been traditionally defined. The more an experience becomes explicitly educational, the more it becomes about developing compartmentalized skills. What we most want to encourage in a world where tacit work is the main source of employment is experiential learning rather than intentional training. Experiential learning is a bottom-up process that relies heavily on environments that reduce the cost of failure while retaining useful lessons from experience. In MMOGs, it’s typical to try and retry challenges repeatedly in a variety of ways until the right blend of skills, talents, and actions required to succeed are discovered and perfected. This kind of learning trains people to be more flexible in their thinking and more sensitive to social cues, which is precisely what future work will require as other kinds of work are taken over by robots.
There are two lessons that games are teaching us here: That videogame environments can encourage experiential learning which can translate into employable skills and that learning and working can be fun and engaging. The gamer generation has grown up knowing that it’s perfectly possible to offer a sense of purpose and aspiration to workers in the context of tasks that are often dull and repetitive. Their experience of gaming will shape their expectations of what jobs should offer. Why should future workers settle for work experiences that do not provide timely feedback allowing people to know how they are doing and how to improve? That do not provide socially-rich interactions occurring over multiple scales of time and space? That do not let people rise up the ranks based on merit? After all, for years they will have worked in game environments that achieve all that and more. Why would entrepreneurs not take advantage of VR to reconfigure workplaces into playful environments that encourage the kinds of skills future work will require of people?
It was Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who said we should “make certain that organizational behaviour does not deprive workers of the enjoyment that comes naturally from being able to to do one’s best”. As the future of human work will be about engaging workers more than commanding them, the most successful businesses will be those that allow for experiential learning. As Bryon Reeves and J. Leighton Read put it:
“Ultimately, the entire workplace may be transformed by 3D environments and game mechanics…The metrics by which the new systems evaluated will be efficiency and productivity. But the mechanism responsible for success will be straight out of entertainment: I’m having more fun”.
So there we are. VR can be entertaining. It can also help us to reconfigure workplaces into playful environments that encourage the blossoming of tacit skills which will become increasingly useful as more algorithmic work is taken over by automation.
Now, if only they could make wearing VR gear look a bit less dorky…

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So you have completed your augmented-reality education, graduated from your virtual university and now you are ready to enter the job market. But what kinds of work will await you in a world where computer-generated fantasies blend seamlessly with reality?
Predicting the future of work is tricky, because there are many technologies that could conceivably dramatically change the job landscape. What kind of work will exist when biotech equipment evolves into convenient desktop devices? When robotics and AI have automated a large percentage of jobs? When IT and communications technologies have further deepened our ability to overcome distance and work together while apart?
In this part, I shall describe a few ways in which businesses are already using VR, and then present a way in which it might be used to change the way we think about work.
VR is not exactly a new thing in the world of work. Of all the VR systems out there, the one people are most familiar with is probably the flight simulator. Flight simulators consist of an enclosed unit whose interior matches the cockpit of an airplane. The unit itself is mounted on hydraulics that can move the unit so as to accurately recreate the movements an aircraft can make. As the pilot operates the controls, force-feedback provides realistic tactile sensations, and the view outside the window (which are actually monitors) shows a virtual landscape rendered to display precisely what you would see at that point in time. All of this combines to produce a simulation of flying that is so accurate they can be used for ‘zero flight time’ training, meaning commercial pilots complete all of their training in simulators, with no need to fly the real thing until their first commercial flight.
The automobile industry has also been a user of VR. As you may well imagine, there are dramatic savings to be made when one moves from building physical prototypes to playing around with virtual vehicles. Ford’s Vice President of Engineering reckoned that VR saves six months in product development time. The Ford VR centre is an arm of the company’s product development division. At IEEE VR 2009, Ford VR’s manager- Elizabeth Baron- described several ways in which VR has been used to help design and test automobiles. All vehicle manufacturers have to deal with ‘human scaling’ which basically means fitting cars to people, taking into consideration specifications such as interior size, seat ratio, and the placement of the steering wheel, pedals and other components. Obviously, using trial and error to get human scaling right is very much cheaper when done in VR, and it also allows one to do things that would not be possible in the physical world. For example, Ford VR’s centre was able to test whether a particular sun visor would block glare for drivers of different heights by repositioning the Sun. 
Perhaps the greatest potential for cost-savings lies in that form of market research known as test stores. A test store is, as its name suggests, a mock-up of a supermarket or some other store which companies use for focus testing. One such company that uses VR test stores is the Fortune 500 corporation Kimberly Clark. Kimberly Clark uses virtual stores to design and test product placement, layouts, displays, and other aspects of a store that can affect shopper preferences. When it comes to market data collection, VR proves very effective because it can capture so much useful information. It can record exactly where customers walk, where they are looking, what they pick up and what they purchase. Once VR headsets become commercially available, companies that use virtual test stores will have a preferable alternative to traditional methods of finding focus groups. The way this is usually done is that market researchers will go to a mall or some other place where people congregate, single out those who appear to fit the demographic of interest, and put together a sample group of ten or so people. But once VR becomes widespread, there will potentially be a much larger pool of consumers, one that’s more closely representative of the actual population of interest. Furthermore these consumers could be sampled randomly, which would help to ensure statistics gathered are more accurate.
It it were a physical test-store that was being built, it would of course be impractical to construct more than a few. But VR test stores impose no such constraints, making it possible in principle to design products and stores individually tailored to every consumer. Shopping malls of the future might be the result of thousands of variations sampled by millions of focus groups. 
As we shop in the stores of the future, it is possible that we will be served by assistants that use VR to give them superpowers. We saw in the part on education how VR can augment a teacher’s ability to engage with an audience, and it can also be used to make salespeople more effective. We may one day be served by avatars employing the ‘Chameleon Effect’. This was a term coined by social psychologist Tanya Chartland, following experiments that demonstrated researchers tasked with conducting interviews preferred actors who (unbeknown to the researchers) mimicked their gestures.
Blascovich and Bailenson also conducted experiments in the effectiveness of mimicry, this time using agents rather than actors (an agent is an avatar controlled by an AI rather than a human). In one condition, the agent mirrored the head movements of participants about four seconds after they occurred. In the other condition, the agents’ head movements were not repeats of the participants’. Less than three percent of participants were aware that they were being mimicked, and the mimicking agents were rated as being more persuasive, credible, and trustworthy. Blascovich and Bailenson commented, “a virtual car sales agent might be programmed to mimic potential car buyers’ movements in a digital showroom. A human salesperson could do this as well, if they took time to learn the same acting techniques the interviewees used in Chartland’s experiments. But avatars and agents can do something which no human can, and that is mimic several people at once. This would be achieved in a similar way to how a virtual lecture hall can allow many people to sit in the same seat: the user’s computer rendering the avatar or agent tailors the viewpoint so they interact with a salesperson uniquely tailored to be persuasive to them.
Before people try out for a job, perhaps people will hone their interview techniques in virtual settings? The company SiMmersion provides one such virtual interview room, along with ‘Molly’, an agent that can draw from a script of hundreds of standard interview questions. The replies she receives influences her moods, with good choices making her more encouraging, and poor ones making her more blunt and abrupt. The interview can be set to several different difficulty levels, allowing the challenge to rise as one’s skills in interviewing increase. In a virtual setup like this, mistakes that could cost one a potential job become useful guides for improvement. Par for the course with VR, the system is recording everything so it can be replayed for review purposes, and Molly can be personalized to suit individual educational backgrounds, work histories, and other personal details.
Maybe one day, it will become standard practice to conduct interviews with AI-powered avatars. But there is a possibility that VR will do a lot more to change the nature of jobs. Currently, the word most closely associated with ‘job’ is ‘work’, but in the future it may be ‘play’.

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Schooling stands to benefit greatly from virtual reality. Given what was said about the effectiveness in reducing the costs of treating phobias in VR, one might conclude that the same thing would be true of doing education in VR. It is no doubt true that, once physical buildings are replaced with virtual classrooms and lecture halls, substantial reductions in the cost of providing venues for education would be possible. But the benefits go much further than simply saving money.
When education is tied to physical buildings, there is always a limit to how many people can attend. Only a certain number of students can be packed into a physical classroom or lecture hall, which is why access to the best schools and universities is a competition for a limited number of places. But a virtual classroom or lecture hall could comfortably accommodate student numbers of a size that would be totally unmanageable in a physical space. Hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of pupils could easily fit into a virtual classroom.
The idea of a classroom of a million students may bring to mind an image of a comically oversized room, with the poor students at the back looking across a vast sea of fellow students to the tiny speck that is the teacher, far, far away at the other end. But, of course, we can always negate this problem by using VR’s ability to bend reality. In a physical lecture hall there is a ‘sweet spot’. It is in the centre of the room, a few rows in front of the podium. Those that occupy this sweet spot learn what is being taught better than those positioned elsewhere. Obviously, in a physical hall or classroom only a few can occupy this ideal position, but as we saw in the example of sharing the same space as an expert instructor, in VR everybody’s POV can be rendered to ensure they occupy the best seat.
If there were a vast lecture hall of a million students, it would not only be those learning who would struggle. The teacher, too, would find it very hard to effectively deliver a lecture to so many people. Dozens of eye-contact experiments have shown that when a teacher looks at a student, that increases the chances of the student learning what is being taught. A well-trained lecturer will take care to spread his or her gaze around the audience rather than focus on some while ignoring others. But when you are dealing with an audience of a hundred or more, spreading your attention evenly means that, on average, each student has eye contact with the teacher for only one percent (or less) of the time.
A teacher’s avatar, though, can devote its full attention to every single person simultaneously. How? By tailoring the information being sent to each student’s computer that is rendering the avatar they are learning from. From the perspective of student A, it is as if he has the best seat in the room and has plenty of eye-contact with the teacher, while simultaneously students B, C and so on have precisely the same experience. Blascovich and Bailenson have tested whether lectures given by teacher avatars with ‘augmented gaze’ really can teach more effectively and found that, as a group, whose attendees whose lecturer had the ‘magic’ ability to devote his or her full attention to many individuals simultaneously retained more information compared to those learning from an avatar with no such ability. It may also be worth noting that not a single student has ever detected that the attention they were receiving was not genuine.
VR can not only be used to give teacher’s avatars superpowers of attention, but also to help the person behind the avatar lecture more effectively. The hardware tracks where your gaze is being directed and therefore, and can therefore in principle alert you should you be ignoring sections of the audience for too long. Blascovich and Bailenson achieved this with an algorithm that caused students to literally start fading from view if they were being ignored. Using this visual aid, teachers ignored those attendees at the far edges of the room for ten percent of the time. This was a substantial improvement compared to teachers who did not have their behaviour brought to their attention by a visual aid: They ignored people on the periphery for approximately forty percent of the time. What is perhaps most encouraging is the followup study lead by Peter Mundy who studies autism at the University of California Davis. When autistic children attended virtual classes which used ‘fading classmates’, they looked others in the eyes in a similar manner to non autistic children.
Another academic, Albert “Skip” Rizzo (who is a psychologist and researcher at the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of California) uses the data gathered by the tracking technology of VR to identify children with ADHD. “Skip” created a virtual elementary-school classroom in which several distracting events occur during a lesson. Children with ADHD exhibit head and gaze movements quite different to those without the condition (their gaze wanders frequently, whereas people without ADHD mostly focus on the teacher). With VR tracking tech monitoring movements and highlighting behaviour, it takes only a few minutes to diagnose pupils with ADHD.
The ability of VR to track and record every action, utterance and gesture made by a student could potentially be used to provide useful information pertaining to how well he is she is learning lessons. No teacher could possibly subject a person’s facial expressions, tone of voice and micro expressions to the level of scrutiny that VR tech can, and if the student were to find themselves being examined so closely it would probably negatively affect their concentration. But VR tech can collect orders of magnitude more informative data points compared to standard midterm and final exams and do so in a completely discrete way. Using such data, it would be possible to determine with much greater precision what aspects of a lesson somebody is having difficulty with. People do not all share the same learning styles and it would probably be very much easier to tailor virtual classrooms to complement individual’s’ specific strengths and weaknesses compared to physical classrooms.
So far, we have been discussing classrooms in VR, but it would hardly be using VR to its full potential if all students did was attend virtual classrooms and lectures. With VR, history lessons need not just consist of listening to an avatar lecture about life in Tudor England, but actually experiencing it for oneself by spending time in the court of King Henry VIII or a hamlet from that period, designed to be as authentic as our best historians and archeologists can make it. Students learning about biology could be shrunk to cellular or molecular level and take a ‘fantastic voyage’ through a body, witnessing events like cell-division, again represented as accurately as our best scientific knowledge will allow.
The potential for VR to make use of learning methods beyond the traditional classroom was highlighted by Chris Dede at Harvard, who has created several VR learning scenarios. One of these, River City, required students to figure out why people were getting sick. Discovering the cause entailed talking with townsfolk, hospital staff, university scientists and other virtual inhabitants, and sharing the information gathered with fellow students. According to Dede, when students have first-hand experiences provided by being immersed in a virtual town with a disease outbreak, they reach a much more full understanding of the relationships among causes and effects compared to traditional classroom settings. One reason why is that students find the virtual experience much more immersive and engaging.
A branch of psychology known as ’embodied cognition’ takes the perspective that knowledge is aided by peripheral bodily actions such as postures and gestures. To give one example of this phenomenon, Professor Michael Spivey at Cornell determined that a set pattern of eye-movements focused learners’ attention more efficiently and this aided them in solving a particularly difficult brain teaser. If we go with the assumption that VR tech will one day interface directly with the brain and body, during any learning task avatars’ peripheral movements could be purposefully controlled with the human learners feeling those movements as if they were actually performing them. According to Blascovich and Bailenson, “if repetition of movements is crucial, then learning could be improved automatically and unconsciously. Learning could take place… even during naps, because the machine is controlling one’s motor movements”.

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QUOTE Maritme Admiralty Law is what is known as the law of the water. It is superceded by civil law and only applies to those that willingly contract themselves into it. The definition of Admiralty Law is a body of private international law governing the relationships between private entities which operate vessles on the oceans….Maritime Admiralty Law was originally created to govern ships, docking in foreign nations, for the import ot export of products and resources. It dealt with banking and merchant affiars, not civil affairs. When a product is taken off of a ship and bought into a foreign land, that nation takes custody of the resource and accounts for it with a certificate. That certificate marks the birthdate of that product in the custody of the respective nation.
Think of why it’s supposedly required to have a birth certificate in the first place. The Barran’s Dictionary of Banking Terms defines a certificate as a paper establishing an ownership claim….Maritime Admiralty Law is Banking Law and the law of Maritime Admiralty says that you, because you came out of your mother’s water, are a Maritime Admiralty Product. This is why the ship is sitting in its berth and is tied to the dock and the captain has to give a certificate of manifest to the port authorities. Because money is changing hands. This is why, when you were born, you had to have a birth certificate. You are a Maritime Admiralty Product….another product to be bought and sold. The British Crown through International Banking owns your physical body….You are a stock in a Maritime Admiralty Banking Scheme where you make money for banks…A Birth Certificate is actually a share. You are held as collatoral to secure the debt which your government owes to international bankers”.
QUOTE People are used as collatoral with other nations because the US is bankrupt. The US declared bankruptcy on March 9 1933. At this point, the US began taking out loans from from a private non-government affiliated corporation called the Federal Reserve. With no money to pay back the loans, the US began using citizens as collatoral. All birth and marriage certificates are literally warehouse receipts….This Admiralty Law changes the meaning of the word ‘person’ from a natural living person to a corporation…Only all capital letters can be dealt with by banks and governments.
QUOTE the standard Rule of Law governing the use of English Grammar states that the correct Capitalization of Proper Names must begin with a capital letter, and the rest of the name must be spelled in smaller case letters. At Law, this lets others know you are an entity created by God, and not an entity created by man. Now, there are entities created by man, Corporations for example. Corporations are known as “persons” created by the government. They are created on a piece of paper and brought into existence by the government. To differentiate between those created by God and those created by the government, those created by the government have their names spelled in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. This lets others know that this entity does not have a body, soul, and spirit like man has, but that this is a fictitious entity created for the purpose of making a profit
‘Birth’ certificate, ‘capital’ letters…How interesting that the methods of modern slavery are hiding in plain sight in the very words we use every day. The creation of fiat currency commences when governments issue treasury bonds. CLUE NUMBER ONE. ‘Bond’ is short for bondage. Treasury bonds are basically IOUs, they are the national debt that future generations are expected to pay for through taxing their labour. All official documents have our names in CAPITAL letters. CLUE NUMBER TWO. ‘Capital’ is an asset owned by a person or organization. ‘Birth Certificate’. CLUE NUMBER THREE. Many of our commonly used phrases and sayings come from maritime origins. ‘Letting the cat out of the bag’. ‘Swinging the lead’. ‘A Square Meal’. ‘BIRTH (BERTH) CERTIFICATE’ originates from the fact that, under Maritime Admiralty Law, you, or rather your capacity to work (ie your labour power) is COLLATORAL WHICH IS TO BE USED TO SECURE THE DEBT WHICH YOUR GOVERNMENT OWES TO INTERNATIONAL BANKERS”.

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