'The Experience Machine' is a famous thought experiment that was proposed in the seventies by American philosopher Robert Nozick. To quickly summarize Nozick's thought-provoking exercise, he hypothesized the existence of a device capable of stimulating a human brain with sensory inputs that are indistinguishable from those we experience during our actual, everyday existence.
In 'The Experience Machine', Nozick challenges us to envision the possibility of having access to a technology that could indefinitely supplant our everyday lifeworld with a virtual one designed to maximize our pleasure and satisfaction. By presenting us with that possibility, Nozick invited us to question whether the way we live our lives is solely driven by the pleasure principle or if there is something else that we value about our actual existence other than how we feel 'from the inside'.
If such a machine existed, and you were given the choice to plug in indefinitely... Would you?
In this talk, Stefano Gualeni looks at 'The Experience Machine' from a videogame-design perspective, and proposes a philosophical reflection on human experiences in the upcoming age of their 'technical reproducibility'.
The contents of this talk are part of an edited volume titled EXPERIENCE MACHINES: The Philosophy of Virtual Worlds (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017)
Additional reading (after the lecture): Gualeni, S. (2016) 'The Experience Machine: Existential Reflections of Virtual Worlds'. In the Journal of Virtual World Research, Vol. 9, n. 3. ISSN: 1941-8477 – available online at: http://stefano.gua-le-ni.com/papers/2016%2012%20-%20The%20Experience%20Machine.pdf
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Associate Professor Stefano Gualeni - Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta