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The Cyborg, the Self and the

John Waterworth
Dept of Informatics, Umeå University, Sweden
Cyborg, Self and Other
What’s this got to do wth presence?
• Presence is a feeling
• The result of a psychological mechanism
• Differentiates internal from external:
the Self from the Other

What’s the role of technology?

• As part of Self
• As part of Other
• questions
• suggestions
• examples
• and then ..... more questions
Are we not men?
• ”We are Devo”
– De-evolving beings?
• What is a cyborg?
– A body that is part machine, or
– A self that is part machine
– Is there a difference?
• Are we cyborgs?
– If Yes .. then
– Where is the line between self and other?
Something is happening
• What?
– Is happening?
• Where?
– In the world, or in my mind?
– If in the world ...
• To/by whom?
– Am I acting in the world, or are you?
(ref: Becchio and Bertone)
Can you tickle yourself?
• No?
– Why not?
• Yes?
– Is it your self who is tickling yourself?
– Or are you yourself tickling your self?
– Is there a difference?
• Are we all the same in this respect?
• Could you make a self-tickling machine?
(ref: Bentall)
Emotion, Presence and Reality Judgement

Questions of survival:
• Is this happening in the world around me, or
only in my mind?
(answered by how present I feel in external environment)
• Is this likely to be true or is it fiction?
(answered on the basis of a reality judgment)
• Do I need to avoid this, and how urgently?
(answered by an emotionalexperience/reaction)
The answers to these questions affect each other
Three layers of presence

• Proto presence
– Me versus not-me
• Proprioception
• Core presence
– Me in the 3D world
• Perception
• Extended presence
– The significance to me of what happens
• Conception (ref: Damasio,
Riva and Waterworth)
Presence in Media
• Conceptual Media (Extended)
– novels, radio programmes, etc..
• Perceptual Media (Core)
– photographs, paintings, cinema, etc..
• Prioprioceptive Media (Proto)
– immersive VR, motorised games, etc.

• Media schemata
– Cultural changes
– Personal changes
– Personal differences
• The need for biofeedback
• What is detected is emotion, not presence

(ref: Ijsselsteijn)
Three layers of presence in media

•Emotions operate at all three layers

–orientation and intensity, selective attention, remembered associations
Being-in-the-world: presence
and time perception
External world Internal world
focus focus

Low working Watching the sun set Daydreaming

memory load (High presence/ (Low presence/
slow time) slow time)

High working Climbing a difficult Solving a logical

rock face puzzle
memory load
(High presence/ (Low presence/

fast time) fast time)

Effect of personality
Tendency to

Low Presence High Presence

Old Young
Awareness of themes Awareness of perceptual details
Sensory deprivation Rich sensory stimulation
Introversion Extroversion
Depression Mania
Sedatives, alcohol Stimulants, psychedelics
High error on vigilance Low error on vigilance tasks
Infrequent sampling Frequent stimulus sampling
Long reaction times Short reaction times
Ideological bias Experiential bias
3 Mood Devices addressing mental health problems:
stress, anxiety, depression

constructing ”vital narratives”

presence absence

mood device emotion mood reflective
(VE, sound, vision, responses thought
tactile stimulation)
Physiological/postural feedback

exploring moods by navigating/interacting in virtual space

(3 examplesÆ)
Exploring moods: the Exploratorium
The Body Joystick (economical wireless vest)
Navigation by leaning the body and breathing
(measures spine orientation and upper chest size)



A narrative (a game)

Visual and auditory effects - For mental and physical rehabilitation

Moving around, flying, falling

The Exploratorium: Effect on mood



(calm) (excited)



inferno 5,5




3,5 Valence
Different zones elicit different emotions 3,0 Arousal
Moving between zones changes mood Paradiso Purgatorio Inferno
Relaxation Island
Portable content: Immersive VR, home TV, mobile phone
Interaction by seashell (+ body joystick for biofeedback)
The Achievement Room
counteracting depression in immobilised patients

Audience of avatars react to performance.

Adaptable to other instruments and to only singing

The guitar
wireless interaction device
Main findings
• For a sense of achievement, there must be real
– No joy without pain
• The more real the experience, the more the 3 layers
come into play
– Mismatches cause distress
• Core presence is NOT affected by reality judgements
– But extended presence is
• Core presence is enhanced by negative emotion
• Easy attribution of emotion enhances extended
• Positive emotions generally reduce presence
(ref: Russell)
Altered being-in-the-world:
The reality helmet
-Psychedelic altered reality (or altered body) machine
- NOT virtual or augmented reality
- Cross modal transfer (camera input Æ stereo sound
2 microphones Æ visual display)
- Surprisingly popular with the over 85s

• People have no evolved mechanisms that can

distinguish the real from the virtual
• They have interacting faculties which separate:
– the external from the internal
– the plausible from the implausible
– the pleasant from the unpleasant
• These are the mechanisms behind our feelings
during interactive media experiences
• They have evolved to preserve the self
Back to the questions ...
• Who is a cyborg?
• When are you a cyborg?
• What is you and what is other?
• How important is your body to your sense
of self?
• Without information technology (media) we
are not human
• But ....
– Conceptual media versus ..
– Perceptual and proprioceptive media
• Conceptual media part of self?
– Needs conscious ”effort of access”
– i.e Mental (re)construction
More Comments
• Without the other, there is no self
• Attention may be more on the self or the other
• Focusing on the other gives a strong sense of
• The boundary of self is variable, within and beyond
the body.

• Insofar as attentional access is consciously effortless,

the technology is part of the self
• Currently, conceptual technology cannot be accessed
without conscious effort
In conclusion
• We are all cyborgs
• But not all IT is part of the self
• To be part of the self, technology must be create
an external other of which it is not a part
• Without conscious ”effort of access”
• In other words:
– We are cyborgs insofar as we use
technology that produces (core) presence