Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution

November 30, 2010
Author:
Jim Blascovich, Jeremy Bailenson
Publisher:
William Morrow (4/5/2011)

Harper Collins | How far off is the science in the film Avatar? Do our brains know where “reality” ends and “virtual” begins? Where is technology leading us? Two leading authorities in the field of virtual reality answer these questions and more as they examine the possibilities and potential of emerging digital technologies to free our minds and change our understanding of what it means to be human. The authors know better than anyone else where technology is headed; they are Silicon Valley-based professors who run the world’s two best-known virtual reality laboratories. Stanford built the authors’ multi-million dollar lab just for Bailenson’s research. In these high-tech facilities, they have conducted the most cutting edge experiments on how humans interact with virtual environments. Jeremy Bailenson has been featured on PBS’s “Frontline,” on “The Today Show” and ABC News, in Discovery Channel documentaries, as well as in The New York Times, The Economist, Forbes, Wired, The Telegraph (UK), Time, and Newsweek.

Advances in our understanding of how the brain works, combined with the explosion of immersive digital technology, are revolutionizing our lives in ways most of us can’t imagine. A proposition as far-fetched as total “personality downloads” will soon be possible — meaning our great-grandchildren will be able to interact with us in the future in a virtual setting that will be indistinguishable from reality. Whether that prospect is exciting or frightening, it is very real — and may be possible in less than a decade.

In Infinite Reality, Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson — two of virtual reality’s most prominent and prolific authorities, and experts in the fields of cognitive and behavioral psychology — take us on a mind-bending journey through the world of virtual reality, exploring what emerging VR technologies and their applications say about us. Going beyond science and technology, Infinite Reality examines timeless philosophical questions of the self and concerns about the future of personal social interaction; probes our quest for knowledge, new experiences, and deeper perspectives; ponders how “virtual reality” is simply an extension, unbound, of humanity for better or worse; and reveals how its latest forms will soon be seamlessly integrated into our lives.