To understand how is it possible for ‘ machine-generated immersive reality’ (a.k.a Virtual Reality) to get insights into a person’s perception of Reality, let us understand the meaning of ‘Reality’.
The dictionary definition of reality is “the state of things as they actually exist.”
The difficulty lies in understanding how an individual determines if something actually exists and is real …
This is because our ‘reality’ is based on the interplay of various complex factors, such as -
1. Perception: The first gateway to our understanding of reality is through perception i.e., if we can see, touch, smell, hear or taste something, then it is real for us.
If it so do we consider micro-organisms in the air and water around us real? We cannot perceive them through our sense organs but we consider the threat of infection by contaminated water ‘real’ enough to purchase bottled water every time we travel.
Or take the case of dinosaurs. We say they were real, that is, they existed, though we cannot see them now.
So, why do we call microbes or dinosaurs ‘real’ even though we cannot perceive them? The answer is simple — Because we KNOW microbes exist and dinosaurs did. This brings us to the second gateway to our understanding of reality.
2. Knowledge — So, perception backed by knowledge is reality. If it is so, our ‘reality’ changes over a period of time with the ‘change’ in our knowledge.
Let us examine our previous example of microbes and dinosaurs.
If we would have told our ancestors in the 15th century that the water we drink contains living organisms, before Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek saw a squirming amoeba under his microscope, they would have labeled us crazy
The perception of reality by a four-year-old is different from an adult as their knowledge levels are different. You will not judge a four-year-old who thinks dragons are real but will judge a forty-year-old who says the same!
This brings us to the third gateway to our understanding of reality -
3. Proof of Knowledge — When Mendel discovered genes by cross-breeding pea plants in his church’s garden, he had not ‘seen’ genes or chromosomes under a microscope. Neither was there a pre-existing knowledge or concept. But he is known as the father of genetics because the models he created to prove how characteristics get passed on from one generation to another or skip generations hold true even today. Many concepts of science (gravity, energy, etc.) cannot be perceived but the models or experiments built to prove their existence yield the same results irrespective of time, place or person conducting them, proving them to be real or true.
But even when knowledge is proven, it may not become a part of our reality, until it passes the final and the most difficult gateway of Acceptance.
4. Societal Acceptance — Galileo was famously persecuted by the Catholic church for advocating Heliocentrism (Earth revolves around the Sun) instead of Geocentrism (Sun revolves around the Earth). Today, it seems ridiculous, but in the 17th century, Galileo was punished for challenging the ‘reality’ believed by the majority of society.
When scientific societies and peer-reviewed journals accept a theory or research, it is considered to be a ‘stamp of societal approval’, without which no research is considered to be valid or true.
Similarly, a lot of our ‘reality’ depends on the socio-cultural belief systems and not truly on knowledge. The way we dress, talk, marry, raise kids and deal with the world around us is dictated by these socio-cultural norms which we adopt and they become the realities of our life.
Coming back to our original question — how do we understand how a person is determining his or her reality?
The answer is — Through his or her Responses
If we can simulate a real-life situation and capture our response to it, these responses can give an indication to all the parameters we discussed above -
- Our perception (sensory-motor inputs to our brain)
- Our knowledge (which determines our response)
- Our skills (which determines how we execute our response)
- Our conformance to acceptable or normal responses
Thus, if we have tests which assess the above four parameters of an individual, we can reliably reconstruct their perception of reality to some extent.
For example, if your organization needs a sales manager who can take risks, is adaptive and is a team player, the best way to test their skills, knowledge, perception is to check their responses to a high-risk game recreated on Virtual Reality.
PerspectAI is a Hyderabad based startup that creates contextual and non-contextual VR immersive environments to capture a person’s responses to perceived reality. This will help companies assess how a candidate they are hiring will behave in ‘Reality’.
To know more about VR game based assessments, click here.