The Virtual Is Real – Just Watch Some Neurons or Roaches

For those who can’t seem to follow the music, money or physics, the key may be neurons or roaches:

Reeves: The human brian is not specialized to differentiate between virtual and real. Same neurons fire when an avatar smiles at you as when a real person smiles at you. Seriosity is looking at what happens when you create an opportunity to do serious things with virtual currency attached, such as sending email messages with virtual currency attached. The result? You open the email faster when currency is attached. Virtual money changes real behavior. » Blog Archive » Virtual Goods Summit: Why Virtual Goods Matter

Roaches it seems, behave like neurons:

“It turns out,” he says, “that roaches aren’t very discriminating” — they’ll accept anything of roughly the right size and smell. In the end, the engineers came up with little wheeled robots shaped like matchboxes and perfumed with eau de roach. They were programmed to have the same likes and dislikes as roaches — that is, to prefer crowds and darkness. When introduced to the real roaches, the robots fit right in — the gathering behavior of the horde was pretty much unchanged. Researchers then reprogrammed the robots to prefer a less-dark hiding place — unnatural for a roach. The insects and the infiltrators were put back into the enclosure, except this time one of their hiding places was more lightly tinted than the other: It was brighter inside. Again, all the roaches scurried around randomly for a while, but the robots eventually settled under the lighter, less shadowy disk — and the real cockroaches followed.


Time: Robot Roaches Do the Trick

As always, remember there is a cure for the Syndrome! 🙂


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