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Cyber-anthropology: a new study on human and technological co-evolution.

Author information

1
Cyber-Anthropology Research, Inc., Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA.

Abstract

For the first time cyber-anthropology is defined as a concept and a new field of study aimed at the analysis of person's reciprocal relations with the computer-generated (CG) world evolved as a result of technological progress. In the cyber-era, simulated reality has come to the point of becoming a force that has the potential to transform the human race. Digital beings such as virtual and embodied agents, although not a part of the natural human habitat, have become necessary elements of people's surroundings and life conditions. As a theoretical construct, Cyber-anthropology is concerned with the merger of natural and artificial worlds mediated by the human imagination, as well as compatibility between people and digital life they have created. As an empirical study, Cyber-anthropology deals with the psychophysiology and psychophysics, semantic and semiotics of human engagement with computer-generated reality that is viewed as a Complex Interactive System. Personal competence as a crucial element of any cyber-system underlines the importance of psychological culture in artificial world exploration. A newly developed concept of Psychological Culture is viewed as an essential part of Cyber-anthropology while concentrating on the following core issues: (1) ethical questions, such as whether or not technological tools can be employed to solve human problems; (2) moral consequences of bringing cutting edge technology into our every day life; (3) studies of individual differences regarding psychological competence of technology users through effective vs. ineffective, independent vs. addictive, and active vs. passive dichotomies. Psychological Culture is defined as the study of a person's competence associated with the use of modern technology and individual acceptability of technological innovations. Several crucial dilemmas arise when a human being is engaged in a simulated environment, and artificial agents inhabit a human world. The ultimate goal of Psychological Culture is to provide people with the knowledge necessary for adequate recognition of scientific innovations to overcome obstacles in the process of implementing technology to enhance human well being.

PMID:
16301776
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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