July 14, 2017

BOOK: Experience Machines

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Experience Machines: The Philosophy of Virtual Worlds is a book edited by Mark Silcox that relates American Philosopher Robert Nozick’s 'experience machine' argument to virtual worlds.

The book is highly relevant to the philosophy of computer games, and IDG faculty member Stefano Gualeni is one of its contributors.

About Stefano's book chapter:
More than forty years after the original formulation of Nozick’s thought experiment – it would be paradoxical to think about those machines as if they were still imaginary, inscrutable gizmos, rather than the concrete aspiration of consumer-technology companies. In this context – a context in which the virtual worlds of videogames are already established as a prominent form of cultural mediation and meaning-making – I will try to supplement Nozick’s reflections and to further elaborate on his thought experiment.

A draft of the chapter is available here.

About Nozick's Experience Machine:
In his classic work Anarchy, State and Utopia, Robert Nozick asked his readers to imagine being permanently plugged into a 'machine that would give you any experience you desired'. He speculated that, in spite of the many obvious attractions of such a prospect, most people would choose against passing the rest of their lives under the influence of this type of invention. Nozick thought (and many have since agreed) that this simple thought experiment had profound implications for how we think about ethics, political justice, and the significance of technology in our everyday lives.