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Where This Takes Us

Haptics may be the presumptive technology of science fiction because we believe that the wall that divides us from our computers is really pretty thin; we fully expect to merge with them in ways we haven't yet gotten used to. And tied up with this thinning of the barrier is the belief that we will be able to not just see the world through their eyes, but also respond to tactile nuance as they do—and, perhaps more important, as they urge us to do.

All this seems to be having a strange impact on us artistically and culturally. On a site for The Cultural Studies Association of Austrailasia, a call for papers urges writers to explore haptics with an eye to just how science affects aesthetics. The organizers wonder, "With the development of notions of virtual space, what has happened to our understanding of the body, the mind, and corporeal space?"

In other words, our views of reality obviously influence the virtual worlds that we create, but how does virtual reality affect how we read our own current time-space log? With the addition of virtual touch, what new knowledge do we gain from our environment, and how will it change our mythology?

When we can feel the artificial juice on our lips, will we be able to taste the apple? I don't know, but I, for one, am ready to bite.

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