Have you heard about CB2?

No, not the more affordable Crate & Barrel store, but the child like robot.

I saw it on the news the other night and it reminded me of Turkle’s discussion of Rodney Brook’s Cog.  CB2 is capable of watching faces and other actions and is currently learning to walk.  Not only does this thing look scary, but it’s odd to think that we can teach a robot to talk and perform other actions.  Also, as “Trix” stated in a comment on the story:

As interesting as this is…did people not learn from films like AI and I, Robot? Nothing good can come from clever robot people, they will always turn on you…. Plus its freaky looking!

Clearly, “Trix” is friends with the person who posted the top answer to the question about computers taking over the world, our friend “wild man of Borneo.”  OR maybe Trix is the wild man of Borneo and Trix is just another one of his alter egos that s/he portrays online.  Turkle’s discussion of virtual reality and the roles people play online versus their real life roles reminded me of analyzing dreams.  You know, your desire to stay in control of a situation is why you had that dream about flying last night.  Your desire to learn to fly is why you portray yourself as an airline pilot in one of your online worlds…or something like that.

Through virtual reality they [computers] enable us to spend more of our time in our dreams.

So is virtual reality just an extension of our dream state?  Or is it more like a lucid dream where we control what happens next and at the same time realize it’s “just a dream.”

I enjoyed Turkle’s discussion of using the virtual world as an extension of the real world.  Her story about Ava was inspiring to think that virtual reality could help someone feel comfortable with themselves in a way that most other softwares, technologies or even counseling could.

We don’t have to reject life on the screen, but we don’t have to treat it as an alternative life either. We can use it as a space for growth.

This goes back again to online classes and students opening up more online than they do face to face.  You might have a student who is virtually silent in the classroom but is one of the “loudest voices” in your online forums or communities.  It’s great that these types of interactions can allow people to open up in way that they otherwise would not.


2 responses to “Have you heard about CB2?

  1. While some virtual worlds could be an extension of dreams, it sort of depends on how you define “virtual world.” If we’re talking about online gaming, I can see the connection. But if people do not pay attention to what they are doing on social networking sites, messages boards, etc., it can definitely come back to haunt them. I guess it depends entirely on how much personal information they divulge in the first place. If you’re playing Second Life, and your virtual self does remain separate from your real self, then I guess it could be looked at as a dream state.

  2. Andy Cavanaugh

    Hi, Erin,

    You mentioned students opening up more online than they do face to face.

    When online classes started to become popular in the late 90s, some thought that students for whom English was not a native language would benefit from them. Such students often require more “wait time” to say things in a f2f class and sometimes are not very successful in contributing to class discussion if others in the class dominate the discussion. It was considered that in the online class they could construct their responses and post right along with everyone else.

    I am not at all sure that happened. At UMUC, we have sections designated for non-native speakers of English. They are called X sections. The X sections sometimes don’t get many students. Non-native speakers, it seems, prefer to take online courses with native speakers.

    Anyway, language and one’s comfort with it has something to do with one’s ability to open up online.



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