February 16, 2007

"Reality" depends on Maya

or "Why you cannot create a camera in-world in Second Life"

It all began with a simple desire, to know who was visiting my Mahamaya Temple in SecondLife and the first step was very simple. I created a phantom, nearly-invisible, trip-wire around my teleport point and sent out an email to my blog whenever someone passed through it and this helped me track who all were visiting the Temple. But then I got ambitious and decided to see if I could create an in-world camera that would take a snap of the individual instead of just sending the email.

I thought that it would be easy but it is not. The more I thought about it, the more difficult it seemed to be until I realised that it is IMPOSSIBLE .. and here is why.

Objects in SL are represented as pieces of data and it is the SecondLife client software that assembles this data and gives it a visual representation. So if I had to create an in-world camera, then I would have to use LSL to create an full fledged SecondLife client itself !!! Whew !!! that is orders of magnitude more difficult than writing LSL code to do a host of normal things like driving a vehicle or creating a flying bee.

Which brings me to the larger philosophical question .. does the existence of reality depend on the existence of a consciousness to percieve the reality ?

I do not know about real life but if we draw an analogy we can state that the SecondLife client is the equivalent of Maya ( or illusion) that assembles the view or perception. Without this Maya ( or the SecondLife client) there is no Reality or at least the perception of Reality.

The act of seeing or perceiving is the cause for the existence of the object of perception .. and this concept blows the mind.

Sartre had said, I think, therefore I am. I would say, I perceive, therefore the world exists.

There is one chink in my argument and it goes like this. Even if the SecondLife client was not around to perceive the artefact in SecondLife, the artefact would still exist in the SecondLife asset server as a binary digits, or digital representation of the object.

So in Real Life, the Reality could be in a form that is signifantly different from the way we see it ... and we see it the way we do because of a Viewer that is placed between it and us .. and that is what the Advaitin would say is Maya.

When this Maya is removed, what remains is something quite different .. and I dont know what that is. But that is in Real Life.

In SecondLife, if we equate the SecondLife client to Maya and if the Maya is removed, then there are no artefacts, only a stream of digital bits.

In Real Life the big challenge is to know the equivalent of the digital bits. Is that Brahman ? the supreme consciousness ... Perhaps it is.

In Second Life the big challenge is to create a in-world viewer, the SecondLife client written in LSL, with which I can -- without being present in-world, see what the world looks like from the Inside.


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