Virtual Co-Embodyment - Two People Control One Virtual Body
Here's a burning question that I'm sure you must think about: What factors influence the embodiment felt towards parts of our bodies controlled by others?
Researchers are working on the visual information necessary to allow two people to control one virtual body while co-embodied.
Researchers measured the senses of agency and ownership towards the two arms of the joint avatar and changes in skin conductance levels in response to visual stimuli threatening the two virtual arms. Dyad participants were asked to collaboratively reach one or two target objects appearing at random positions with the two arms of the joint avatar. The sense of agency, ownership, and skin conductance of participants were significantly higher towards the virtual arm under their control compared to the virtual arm controlled by their partner. Furthermore, the senses of agency and ownership towards the arm controlled by the partner were significantly higher when the participant dyads shared a common intention to reach a single target with both hands or when they were allowed to see their partner's target while reaching different targets with the two virtual hands, compared to when the partner's target was invisible (while having two different targets).
These results show that while embodiment towards partner-controlled limbs is lower compared to limbs under one's own control, visual information necessary to predict the partner's intentions can positively affect embodiment towards partner-controlled limbs during virtual co-embodiment.
Long-time Technovelgy reader Yossi (@ExoThinker) points out how similar this scenario is to the one proposed by Robert Sheckley in his 1995 short story The Day the Aliens Came, which he called composite living:
The presence of aliens among us was responsible for the next step in human development, the new interest in composite living. You got tired of the same old individualism after a while. Rimb and I thought it could be interesting to be part of something else. We wanted to join a creature like a medusa or Portuguese man of war. But we weren't sure how to go about it. And so we didn't know whether to be pleased or alarmed when we received our notification by mail of our election to an alien composite life-form. Becoming part of a composite was still unusual in those days.
Rimb and I had quite a discussion about it. We finally decided to go to the first meeting, which was free, and see what it was like.
This meeting was held at our local Unitarian Church, and there were almost two hundred people and aliens present. There was a lot of good-natured bewilderment for a while as to just what we were supposed to do. We were all novices at this and just couldn't believe that we were expected to form up a two hundred person composite without prior training.
At last someone in a scarlet blazer and carrying a loose-leaf binder showed up and told us that we were supposed to be forming five unit composites first, and that as soon as we had a few dozen of these and had gotten the hang of morphing and melding, we could proceed to the second level of composite beinghood.
Luckily the Unitarian Church had a big open space in the basement, and here is where we and our chimaeric partners fit ourselves together.
There was good-natured bewilderment at first as we tried to perform this process. Most of us had had no experience at fitting ourselves to other creatures, so we were unfamiliar with for example, the Englen, that organ of the Pseudontoics which fits securely into the human left ear.
Still, with help from our expert (the guy in the scarlet blazer) who had volunteered to assist us, we soon formed up our first composite. And even though not everything was entirely right, since some organs can fit into very different types of human holes, it was still a thrill to see ourselves turning into a new creature with an individuality and self-awareness all of its own.
Star Trek fans may also remember the idea of composite life-forms, like the Pandronians, which would date from the late 1970's or 1980's.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/29/2022)