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A thought inspired by Monday’s Daf (page) in the Talmud, Gittin 41

A thought inspired by Monday’s Daf (page) in the Talmud, Gittin 41

Breaking things in Augmented Reality.

This post presents a philosophical idea inspired by the text of today’s Daf. The Daf is one page in the Talmud that tens of thousands of people study each day. I explain the connection to the text in a comment below. My purpose is to show that there are underlying philosophical assumptions in the Talmud that can have great significance for anybody today trying to understand our complex reality.

Augmented reality is the reality we create on top of the physical world we see. Today, there are technology companies that are working to create goggles that will combine the real world with computer-generated content in a natural way. However, augmented reality has a long history that goes back perhaps to the time when humans first learned to speak.

Items such as chairs, bricks, trees, and people are part of physical reality. However, we augment this reality with a constructed reality that includes elements like feelings, ownership, rights, and freedom of movement through specific spaces.

In fact, the distinction may be more complex and nuanced, since, for example, seeing the chair as a “chair” and not just “rearranged wood” is part of our augmentation, but for the purpose of this post, such complexities will be ignored. Assume the world divides neatly into physical reality and augmented, human-generated reality.

Objects in physical reality can be broken or damaged. In some cases, we might be able to mend some damaged objects, but there are many examples of objects that, once broken, have this property of remaining broken. Also, in general, the objects of physical reality can be replaced with equivalent or better objects of the same type. Of course, some physical objects, such as people, are unique. However, all objects are unique, and therefore a special uniqueness must be considered as part of the augmented reality we impose on physical objects.

We tend to view much of Augmented Reality as less permanent: for example, if I take something from you and deny your ownership, when I give you back the object with my apologies, the damage to your ownership is restored. On the other hand, entities in Augmented Reality are often not easily replaceable in the same way that physical objects are.

However, there are entities in Augmented Reality that are both irreplaceable and, if damaged, cannot be completely restored. Examples of these might include hurt feelings, damaged trust, or squandered unique moments. We have to be particularly careful when these two aspects of Augmented Reality come together.

submitted by /u/eliyah23rd
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